Investing in the futures of our children

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National research

Research on getting children off to a better start

We aim to help families get children off to the best possible start, delivering a wide and lasting benefit to society. Our work aligns with several major national reviews, including:

  • Our children deserve better: prevention pays, Annual report of the Chief Medical Officer (2012) is based on examining the life stages individuals experience up to the age of 25. It highlights the need for a combination of universal (prevention) and targeted (early intervention) approaches, and the scientific and economic evidence for this.
  • The Foundation Years: preventing poor children becoming poor adults (2010), an independent review by Frank Field on poverty and life chances. It found overwhelming evidence that children’s life chances are predictable from their first five years of life. Maternal health, responsive parenting and opportunities for child development, as well as good health services and children centres, are key to breaking the poverty cycle.
  • Early intervention: the next steps (2011), an independent report by Graham Allen. It highlights the need for working with families in children’s early years to promote social and emotional development to improve mental and physical health, educational attainment and employment opportunities. It recommends a review of evidence for early interventions.

Links to further research, information and insights that our programme draws on, and which will inform its evaluation:

  • Born in Bradford website (Born in Bradford) – a long-term study of more than 13,000 children born in Bradford, tracking their health and development
  • The science within: what matters for child outcomes in the early years PDF report (Social Research Unit, Dartington, for A Better Start) – provides evidence from various fields to illustrate how adversity in a child’s home and environment translate into poorer outcomes in nutrition, language and social and emotional development
  • What works in improving child outcomes in the early years PDF report (Social Research Unit, Dartington, for A Better Start) – provides an evidence based review of activities that are aimed at improving nutritional, socio-emotional and language outcomes for children from conception to three years.
  • Volunteering and early child outcomes PDF report (Parents 1st, for A Better Start, 2016) – evidence review exploring if and how volunteering, peer support and ‘community champions’ projects can support the threeA Better Start child development outcomes
  • Preventonomics: an introduction PowerPoint (London School of Economics, for A Better Start, 2016) – presentation giving an introduction to the ‘preventonomics’ approach LSE will take to carry out an economic evaluation of A Better Start