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Why does early intervention matter?


13 May 2020

All children deserve the best possible start in life. Too many children face the kind of disadvantage that affects their development and threatens their future health and happiness. Early intervention can play a part in offering these children and their families the support they need to reach their potential. Find out more about why it's good for children and families, and for society as a whole.

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Why does early intervention matter?

Too many children face the kind of challenges or disadvantages that can affect their development and threaten their future wellbeing, health and happiness.

And failing to intervene at an early stage can lead to a range of negative consequences in the future. For example, there’s a link between behavioural problems in childhood and lower qualifications and earnings later in life. Poor social and emotional skills as a child are linked to academic struggles, poor mental health and relationship problems as an adult. These problems are likely to be more serious more damaging and more difficult to address once a person reaches adolescence or adulthood.

But these outcomes are not set in stone. Experiencing challenges or disadvantages early in life doesn’t have to dictate a child’s wellbeing and opportunities as they grow up. Early intervention can support four important aspects of children’s development: physical, cognitive, behavioural, and social and emotional. Short-term improvements in these four areas can lead to benefits throughout childhood and later life, including improved physical health, improved mental health and wellbeing, better academic results and job prospects, improved behaviour, and a reduced risk of criminal involvement.

Leaving problems unresolved in childhood doesn’t only impact on the lives of individuals and families but on all of us as a society as well. Effective early intervention can help to reduce the amount of support a person needs during their lifetime and relieve the pressure on our vital public services. Over time, it can help to build communities that are more resilient and more supportive places for children and young people to grow up.

Preventing problems from arising in the first place or working to reduce their impact on people’s lives is good for all of us.