MPs to review family support for a child's first 1001 days

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A cross-Government working group is being set up to review how to improve the support available to families from before a child is born up to the age of two.

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Andrea Leadsom MP, who will chair the working group, marking Infant Mental Health Awareness Week last month

Theresa May has asked  Andrea Leadsom MP, the leader of the House of Commons, to chair the working group that will seek to identify gaps in provision and make recommendations on how co-ordination across Government departments could be improved.

The review will build on recent Government policy in this area, including the 15 and 30 hours of funded childcare, NHS England’s Maternity Transformation Programme and expansion of provision for perinatal mental health care.

Other members of the cross-party working group will be the children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi, the chief secretary to the Treasury Elizabeth Truss, the minister for family support, housing and child maintenance Justin Tomlinson, the minister for mental health and inequalities Jackie Doyle-Price, and the minister for local Government Rishi Sunak.

Andrea Leadsom MP said, ‘I am delighted the Prime Minister has asked me to explore what more the Government can do to ensure we act early to help every child get the best possible start in life.

‘The vital importance of supporting the first 1,001 days from conception to the age of two has been a long-standing passion of mine. A baby’s earliest experiences determine their lifelong emotional health, so a secure early start can protect young people from later mental health problems and contribute significantly to reducing major social harms.

‘I am greatly looking forward to exploring with ministerial colleagues what more the Government can do to improve the cradle-to-grave effects that result from better outcomes in this critical period of our lives.’

In an interview with The Sunday Times yesterday about the working group, Ms Leadsom said she was planning to set-up 'one-stop shops nationwide for advice on pregnancy and babies, with psychotherapy services for those who cannot cope'.

Previewing the advice on offer, she went on to say that parents should not rely on TV to keep children occupied. She advised they turn off the TV and spend more time cuddling their baby.

Going forward, Ms Leadsom told the newspaper she wants to ensure local authorities have a 'duty to create a perinatal strategy' so 'Sure Start becomes a vehicle for huge injection of support, both for prevention of harm and to provide support for parents who just want to know when to wean their baby.'

She said her aim is to 'move birth registrations to the centres to allow helpers to assess each family and introduce them to the services on offer.'

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