The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) and What Works for Children's Social Care (WWCSC) merged in December 2022 and are now Foundations, the What Works Centre for Children & Families. You can visit our new website here.
This website will remain live for now but is not being updated. Here you can find research and work we carried out as EIF before the new organisation was formally launched in June 2023.
Early intervention means identifying and providing effective early support to children and young people who are at risk of poor outcomes.
Effective early intervention works to prevent problems occurring, or to tackle them head-on when they do, before problems get worse. It also helps to foster a whole set of personal strengths and skills that prepare a child for adult life.
Early intervention focuses on supporting children’s physical, cognitive, behavioural, and social and emotional development. This is where it can make the biggest difference and has the potential to provide benefits throughout a person’s life.
EIF is an independent charity focused on promoting and enabling an evidence-based approach to early intervention.
- We make the case for effective early intervention, to ensure it is prioritised and invested in at both the national and local level.
- We conduct research, bringing together and synthesising the evidence from scientific studies, tests and evaluations of early intervention programmes and practices, and the expertise and experiences of people working in early intervention.
- We publish reports to disseminate the findings, conclusions and recommendations from our research, and produce resources to translate this research into practical guidance and tools.
- We work with government and all levels of the early intervention sector to ensure this evidence is used in decisions about how early intervention is supported and implemented, from national policy to local strategy to frontline practice.
Our work focuses on the developmental issues that can arise during a child’s life, from birth to the age of 18, including their physical, cognitive, behavioural and social and emotional development. As a result, our work covers a wide range of policy and service areas, including health, education, families and policing.
EIF works with local partners to extend the reach and impact of effective early intervention approaches. Since the organisation was established in 2013 we have worked with early intervention decision-makers, commissioners, service providers and practitioners in over 140 local places, including 85 in 2021/22.
Our work in local areas has given us an in-depth understanding of the challenges of trying to deliver early intervention in a difficult financial climate, and the kinds of evidence-based information that decision-makers and practitioners need.
We have supported local areas in different ways, by providing access to the latest evidence, expert advice and opportunities to share experiences with areas facing similar challenges. We have also served as a ‘critical friend’ for local areas that are developing their early intervention strategies and approaches. And we have provided direct support through national programmes and initiatives, for example on family hubs, reducing parental conflict, and speech and language development.
- We are not a funding organisation: we are not able to provide funding in any form, for early intervention provision, evaluation or research. Organisations which may be able to provide information on funding include the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which runs Funding Central, the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action, the Institute of Fundraising, and the Directory of Social Change.
- We are not a service provider: we don’t work directly with children, young people or families to provide early intervention or any other services. We work upstream, with the public services, voluntary and charity organisations, programme developers, local authorities, health bodies and government agencies who do work to support people through early intervention.
- We cannot provide ad-hoc support: we aren’t able to provide one-to-one advice to individual local authorities, services or organisations, outside of the work we’re doing to support local areas through existing projects and the national programmes we are involved in. See ‘Our work with local areas’ above for how to hear about new opportunities for collaboration or support, and check out our reports and resources for free information and practical tools on planning and implementing early intervention locally.
- We do not evaluate early intervention programmes or practices ourselves. However, we do work with those who commission or conduct trials, to promote rigorous methods and reporting, and to encourage and support more evaluation of early intervention in the UK. Evidence based on trials and evaluations forms a crucial part of our research, and of the findings, recommendations and guidance we develop.
- We cannot provide individual advice about a child or family that you feel would benefit from extra support. To find out more about services which may be available in your area, you should contact your local council, GP or health visitor.
As a small charity working on some big issues, working in partnership with other organisations is a crucial part of our strategy. By collaborating with like-minded partners, we can share our information and resources with more people, access a wider range of experiences and expertise, and put evidence-based early intervention at the heart of other organisations’ work.
Current or recent partnerships include our role as a founding partner of the Youth Endowment Fund, and work with fellow What Works centres the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and What Works for Children’s Social Care. In other examples, we have collaborated with the Anna Freud Centre on mental health and family hubs; with PEDAL at the University of Cambridge, on early years practice; and with Action for Children, on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We are always keen to hear about new opportunities for collaboration. If you would like to discuss working together, please get in touch at email@example.com.
As a charity, EIF receives funding from a range of sources, including grants and contracts, from government, trusts and foundations.
Currently, EIF receives around 90% of its funding from government departments and agencies, including the Department for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office. This reflects our role as a What Works Centre and enables us to meet the needs and priorities of government, act as a strategic partner to government programmes, influence national policy decisions affecting children and families, and work with local areas.
Current or recent non-governmental funders include the Nuffield Foundation and Youth Endowment Fund.
September 2008: Graham Allen MP and Iain Duncan Smith MP co-write Early Intervention: good parents, great kids, better citizens, published by the Centre for Social Justice and the Smith Institute.
July 2010: The Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, asks Graham Allen to chair an independent review of early intervention to report back to the government.
January 2011: The first report of Graham Allen’s review, Early Intervention: the next steps, is published. This report recommended that an independent Early Intervention Foundation should be established, with a role to include:
- supporting local people, communities and agencies
- leading and motivating the expansion of early intervention
- evaluating early intervention policies based on a rigorous methodology and a strong evidence base
- developing the capacity to attract private and public investment to early intervention.
July 2011: The second report of Graham Allen’s review, Early Intervention: Smart investment, massive savings, is published.
February 2013: Start-up funding for the Early Intervention Foundation is secured.
July 2013: EIF becomes an independent charity, under the leadership of founding chair Graham Allen and chief executive Carey Oppenheim. Our charitable aims are to: (a) advance education; (b) promote health; (c) relieve poverty; through in particular, disseminating evidence concerning best practices in early interventions to improve social and emotional capabilities of babies, children and young people in these fields.
September 2016: EIF moves from its original home at Local Government House, Smith Square, to 10 Salamanca Place, Vauxhall.
August 2017: Dr Jo Casebourne takes over as chief executive of EIF.
July 2018: EIF publishes its strategy for 2018–2023, focusing on a three-part model:
- Making the case for early intervention
- Generating evidence
- Using evidence to change policy and practice
October 2018: EIF publishes Realising the potential of early intervention, reasserting the case for prioritising and investing in effective early intervention, and setting out a plan of action at national and local level.
January 2019: EIF publishes its impact framework, establishing our approach to understanding and measuring our impact through increasing the prioritisation of and investment in early intervention.
March 2019: EIF is announced is one of three founding partners, with Impetus and Social Investment Business, of the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF), a £200 million investment over 10 years by the Home Office in tackling the risks associated with young people becoming involved in violent behaviour and crime.
March 2020 onwards: Like every country, the UK undergoes huge social and economic changes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Alongside the public health crisis, the pandemic highlights and increases need for support across issues such as mental health, family stress and domestic abuse. EIF publishes a series of reports detailing the early impact of the pandemic on local services.
May 2021: EIF publishes Supporting evidence-use in policy and practice, setting out our approach to promoting the use of evidence through engaging with end-user audiences in the development of our research, and to developing ‘knowledge mobilisation’ plans that are rooted in an understanding of context and behaviour.
September 2021: EIF moves to Albany House, Westminster, joining a group of What Works Centres and other evidence-driven organisations in the Evidence Quarter.
September 2021: EIF publishes its Equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, setting out our commitment to being an inclusive employer and our efforts to understand, highlight and address social inequalities through our work.