It’s a significant step that children are mentioned in the Queen’s speech to the Houses of Parliament:

“Measures will be brought forward to ensure that children have the best start in life, prioritising their early years. My Ministers will address lost learning during the pandemic and ensure every child has a high quality education and is able to fulfil their potential.”

We welcome this significant commitment from the Government set out in today’s Queen’s speech. We have more evidence than any other generation that investment in the earliest years of life is the smartest of all investments – this is not hypothetical. There is no time to waste, our youngest citizens have been overlooked for too long. We look forward to working with the Government to strengthen the health visiting service which forms an important part of the solution which will be crucial to ensure that every child really does fulfil their potential.

Improving early years services from pregnancy to age 5

The new Best start in life knowledge hub from PHE brings together information and evidence in one place to help commissioners, providers and professionals in commissioning for better outcomes during pregnancy and in the early years.

It supports Public Health England’s national priority of ensuring every child has the best start in life: every woman experiencing a healthy pregnancy; every child ready to learn at 2; every child ready for school at 5; and a reduction in child obesity.

The hub provides easy access to key resources, including government policy, guidelines and guidance, reports, data, evidence summaries and examples of what works in practice. You can search or browse resources by topics such as healthy pregnancy; good health and development; healthy weight; speech, language and communication; relationships and resilience; and safe from harm.

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Public Health England (PHE) wants to increase the proportion of children ready to learn at 2 and ready for school at 5.

This new resource for health professionals and local authorities is about investing in early years services from pregnancy to age 2.  It focuses on giving every child the best start in life and specifically the crucial period from pregnancy to the age of two.

Dr Cheryll Adams said: ” This is a very helpful review of what matters to ensuring the best outcomes for infants from pre-conception care to age 2.  I recommend that all health visitors read it and share it widely.”

The earliest experiences, starting in the womb, shape a baby’s brain development. During the first two years of life the brain displays a remarkable capacity to absorb information and adapt to its surroundings.

Investing in the early years can help to address health inequalities that disadvantage some from the very beginning of their lives.

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Health visiting and the future for the Healthy Child Programme was the subject of a presentation by Dr Cheryll Adams, Executive Director of the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), at today’s Westminster Health Forum – Improving children and young people’s health outcomes: Integration, public health and policy priorities.

Dr Cheryll Adams addressing the Westminster Health Forum

Dr Cheryll Adams addressing the Westminster Health Forum

Held in Whitehall, London, delegates met to consider next steps for improving service delivery for children and young people, and the role of NHS England, Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities in promoting positive wellbeing.

There was also a discussion on the early impact of new funding for child and adolescent mental health services, and progress made by Public Health England in ensuring every child has the best start in life as one of seven priorities outlined in their five year strategy.