Yesterday, the House of Commons Petitions Committee published the Government’s response to the Committee’s first report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on new parents. The response is available here.

The Committee’s report focused on the additional pressures that COVID-19 and the pandemic response have brought for new and expectant parents, and called for: strengthened perinatal mental health services; increased in-person visits by health visitors to new parents; a review of monitoring and enforcement activity relating to employers’ health and safety obligations to new parents; legislation on extended redundancy protections for new and expectant mothers; and a review into the funding and affordability of childcare

The Government’s response states:

“We understand that the pandemic and the pandemic response have involved a significant amount of upheaval for new parents, including through changes or delays to services, and national lockdowns presenting barriers to support and care from friends and relatives. The first 1,001 days from conception to the age of two are critical: they set the foundations for an individual’s cognitive, emotional and physical development through the early years and growing up well. We continue to support giving every child the best start in life, including through building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. In October 2021, an additional £500 million was announced through the Budget for Start for Life and family help services [this includes £200m for the Supporting Families Programme for children of all ages]. This represents an important step in implementing the vision set out in The Best Start for Life: a Vision for the 1,001 critical days, published by the Early Years Healthy Development Review led by Dame Andrea Leadsom.”

At the iHV, we support the Petitions Committee’s conclusion that, whilst this investment is an important first step and a welcome commitment to the ‘First 1,001 Days’, this does not go far enough. The Committee’s response states:

“We welcome the long-term vision of the Government’s Best Start for Life review, but to date COVID-19 recovery funding aimed at children aged under 2 appears to have been unjustifiably neglected compared to the funding made available for older children. As we emerge from the pandemic, the Government must ensure it invests proportionately in the infrastructure which supports these families.”

The iHV is working closely with the Parent-Infant Foundation and many other leading organisations who are calling on the Government for a fully funded COVID-19 recovery plan for babies, young children and families.

Alison Morton, iHV Executive Director commented:

“There is no denying that the impact of the pandemic on babies, young children and families has been wide ranging, and disproportionately affects those who were already disadvantaged. Whilst the Government’s recent commitment of £300m for the Start for Life Offer is a welcomed step in the right direction, it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough to address the scale of unmet need and intensity of support required.

“Left unaddressed, the burden of vulnerability and early adversity is cumulative and may last a lifetime for some children. But, in a world of seemingly intractable challenges, there is hope – meaningful prevention, early intervention and care promises better health and wellbeing across generations. Inequalities are not inevitable; they are within our gift to change if we have the will and the means to tackle them.

“We therefore join with others in calling for a clear COVID-19 recovery plan for babies, young children and families at the scale of intensity required, and with the investment needed, to put this right. This includes tackling the workforce ‘elephant in the room’. The current workforce shortages in health visiting have been ignored for far too long, and their impact is being felt across the health and social care system and by parents who face the brunt of short-sighted policy making. We need more health visitors, and we need to start rebuilding this vital infrastructure of support for families now.”

We are grateful to the support of more than 700 leading children’s organisations who have supported our call for investment in health visiting. The Parent-Infant Foundation has highlighted three areas where they feel that the Government’s response is insufficient:

  • The Government is diminishing the impact of the pandemic on our babies
  • Disparities in recovery funding are inconsistent with Government’s own acknowledgement of the importance of the first 1001 days
  • More must be done to strengthen our health visiting services.




If you missed yesterday’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Conception to Age Two meeting held online, you can watch it on the link below.

Yesterday’s APPG meeting was chaired by Tim Loughton MP, and the topic was ‘Midwives, Health Visitors and Family Hubs’. Alison Morton, Executive Director iHV, gave evidence on the challenges and opportunities facing health visiting – you can listen to Alison at 1:10:52 until 1:23:00.

Wow, what an amazing couple of days at the #iHVEBP2021 conference, “Looking ahead to a fairer future” held on 21st & 22nd September!

Over the last two days almost 400 delegates from across the UK joined together to reflect, recharge and look ahead to a fairer future at the 6th iHV Evidence Based Practice Conference which was held virtually.

The virtual world quickly became filled with a shared passion and energy to make a difference and improve outcomes for babies, young children and families. We heard from local, national, and international expert speakers, including parents, who shared best practice examples, brought constructive challenge and shared innovative solutions. We were also the first to hear some of the latest research into health visiting that is driving change in policy and practice.  The conference was themed around reducing inequalities and sharing learning from the pandemic. We also took some time to reflect and think about how we can look ahead to the future with a shared ambition to build a fairer society.

Despite health visitors’ best efforts to reach as many families as possible, the conference also highlighted the challenges that the health visiting profession in England faces, following years of cuts and a postcode lottery of support. Our mission at the iHV is to drive positive change using the data – and from the data it is clear that health visitors in many areas are struggling with unmanageable caseloads, increasing complexity and need, and health visiting numbers at an all-time low. The iHV is working in collaboration with the Parent-Infant Foundation and the First 1001 Days Movement to set out a case for investment to deliver the Start for Life vision, including money for health visiting in the Spending Review.

Sally Hogg (Head of Policy and campaigning for the Parent-Infant Foundation and Co-ordinator and Chair of the First 1001 Days Movement) ended our conference with a call to find the inner warrior in all of us! Sally launched the #InvestInHealthVisiting #TurnOfftheTaps campaign which is calling for the Government to invest in health visiting.

Sally Hogg said:

“We are investing billions in overstretched health and social care services, which are flooded with growing need. It’s time for a different approach. It’s time to turn off the taps and stop mopping the floor and think about how health visitors can save the NHS.”

We have compiled some highlights from Sally’s speech, so if you missed it you can catch up and find your inner warrior and join us with this campaign. Together we are stronger!


 Alison Morton, Executive Director iHV, commented:

“I am delighted that so many organisations and individuals have joined alongside the iHV, as part of the First 1001 Days Movement, calling for investment to deliver the Government’s Start for Life Vision and increase the number of health visitors. We hear daily how the NHS is flooded with growing need – now is the time to #TurnOffTheTaps . The evidence is clear that investing in the earliest years of a child’s life is the smartest of all investments – we don’t need any more evidence for this. It is time to stop admiring the problem and invest in the infrastructure of support that will actually make the difference. We urge all health visitors to join this campaign and speak out about the vital work that they are doing. We would also like to thank all of our partners for their unwavering support.”


New research, published last Saturday by the Parent-Infant Foundation, shows significant gaps in mental health provision for babies and toddlers.

The findings, from a survey of nearly 300 NHS children and young people’s mental health professionals, also show significant gaps in knowledge, experience and confidence across the workforce. 

Key findings include:

  • Only 36% of respondents reported that, within children and young people’s mental health services in their area, there are mental health services that can work effectively with babies and toddlers aged 0-2.
  • Only 52% of respondents said their local NHS children and young people’s mental health service took referrals for children aged two and under. Many of these respondents told us that, while this was the referral criteria on paper, in reality, the service was not working with young children.
  • Only 9% of respondents felt there was “sufficient provision available for babies and toddlers whose mental health was at risk” in their area.
  • During their pre-qualification training, 26% of respondents had not been trained to work with 0–2-year-olds. 48% had not had experience of working with this age group during their training.

To ensure that ALL children across the UK can access appropriate mental health provision, if and when they need it, there is a collective call for:

  1. Policy and investment from national governments to increase the provision of infant mental health services.
  2. A drive within the NHS to hold commissioners and providers to account for offering a truly 0-25 mental health service.
  3. A workforce development strategy to ensure there are trained professionals with the specialised skills required to deliver these critical services.

Take the #IncludingInfants Pledge

As part of #IMHAW21, there is a call for everyone to adopt the language of “infant, children and young people’s mental health”.

Children and young people’s mental health should describe the mental health of all children from 0-18 and beyond, but often the needs of babies and toddlers under two get forgotten.

Changing our language to talk about “infant, children and young people’s mental health” is a simple but powerful way to drive change.

We believe that small changes in language could catalyse wider changes in attitudes, understanding and eventually in policy and service provision.

Through making this pledge, you are committing to talk about “infant, children and and young people’s mental health” wherever appropriate and to include infants in more of your discussions, thinking and action to improve children’s mental health.

To find out more and take the pledge go to:

If you take the pledge you will receive some exclusive social media assets which you can share in your work space or via your social media to show your commitment.