Dr Eunice Lumsden, head of early years education at the University of Northampton, was commenting on figures published for the first time that show that there has been a ‘huge’ rise in the number of newborns who are subject to care proceedings.
The data from the University of Lancaster and funded by the Nuffield Foundation shows that 2,018 babies were taken into care in 2013, compared with 802 in 2008.
A total of 13,248 newborn babies were taken into care between 2007 and 2014.
Separately, the Prime Minister will say today that failing children’s services face takeover by charities and other organisations, if they do not improve after six months of being judged inadequate by Ofsted.
The best councils, child protection experts and others would form independent trusts to take over the worst children’s services departments.
A small number of children’s services, such as Doncaster and Slough, have already been taken over by trusts.
Dr Lumsden said, ‘You have to look beyond the figures of 2,000 children coming into the care system. What happens to those children? The need to be able to form close attachments.’
EYTs are best placed to provide the link between health and social care to safeguard children in their earliest years, she said.
They could play a crucial role as they are ‘the only profession that has to meet a standard of safeguarding children from birth to five. Social workers have to meet a standard across the age range.’
But she said that EYTs are not ‘getting paid enough, or respected’ for the work they do.
Dr Lumsden also believes that the Government should appoint a ‘czar’ to oversee the Government’s policy in the same way that there has been for adoption and social care.
She said that it was time to seize the moment and that the current debate ‘reinforces the need for a holistic approach. The data is so great that you need somebody to be the champion for policy makers for early childhood,’ she told Nursery World. ‘We need to support Government to connect the dots nationally and locally.’
She also called for the appointment of a minister to have ‘total responsibility for families’, working across Government.
‘The role would have to embrace public health, early learning and social care.’
She added, ‘ How could we do this differently? We have enough evidence that shows that early intervention works, but the situation is getting worse. These agendas need to be joined up. While they are held by different departments we are not having the high level of debate that really makes a difference.’
Dr Lumsden is the early years academic co-ordinator for the 1001 Critical Days Campaign, which is being re-launched today (14 December).
The Conservative MP Tim Loughton will be leading a parliamentary debate on Thursday on the 1001 Critical Days report.