Members from eight political parties have come together to lobby Government to put better measures in place to support perinatal mental health and stronger attachment between babies and their parents in the updated 1001 Critical Days Manifesto, which was originally launched in 2013.
The new manifesto states that around 26 per cent of babies (198,000) in the UK are estimated to be living within complex family situations of heighted risk where there are problems such as substance misuse, mental illness or domestic violence, while 36 per cent of serious case reviews involve a baby under the age of one.
Evidence published earlier this year by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for 1001 Critical Days in the report, Building Great Britons, identified the cost of poor perinatal mental health and child neglect as more than £23bn a year.
APPG chairman and former children’s minister, Tim Loughton MP, said that the Government has done a good job of dealing with the problems of dysfunctional families through the Troubled Families Programme but a ‘pre-Troubles Families Programme’ is now needed, which deals with the causes of poor attachment and the resulting diminished life chances that flow from that.
He said, ‘It really is false economy not to be dealing with this earlier and I am glad that ministers are at last waking up to the fact that this is a problem which can be dealt with at relatively modest cost if we have a coherent programme that can get stuck in early.’
The aim of the manifesto is for every baby to receive sensitive, appropriate and responsive care from their main caregivers in the first years of life with more proactive help from the NHS, health visitors, children’s centres and other public bodies engaged in a joined-up preventative strategy.
Early years training organisation NEYTcO welcomed the manifesto but said that without commitment and support from all parties, decision makers, professionals, business, parents and the wider society, we are enabling a ‘terrible legacy passing from one generation to the next’.
The Anna Freud Centre strongly supports the 1001 Critical Days Initiative.
Tessa Baradon, head of programme of infant and early years services and PIP manager, said, ‘The baby’s earliest relationship with his parents or caregivers are the most significant he is likely to have and are likely to be formative of his personality, health, friendships, work patters over the course of his life...We have a long tradition of innovative work in early child development and bring this to the joint effort on behalf of our babies, parents and society.’
The original 1001 Critical Days Manifesto was spearheaded by Northamptonshire South MP Andrea Leadsom who originally set up the APPG to raise the profile of these crucial early years’ issues. She is now Minister of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
- Download the updated 1001 Critcal Days