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Early intervention commission announced by government

The government has announced an independent commission into early intervention to ensure that children with multiple disadvantages get the best start in life. Children’s minister Sarah Teather and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith said the commission will be chaired by MP and co-author of a report on early intervention Graham Allen and will report in January 2011. Ms Teather said: “No child’s future should be predetermined by the decisions or mistakes of his or her parents, and I firmly believe every child should have the chance to succeed, regardless of their background. Intervening earlier with troubled families can not only prevent children and their parents falling into a cycle of deprivation, antisocial behaviour and poverty but can save thousands if not millions of pounds in the longer term.” “This review demonstrates the importance the government places on improving early intervention. We want to learn from the areas already pioneering a successful approach to tackling troubled families early and build on local good practice,” she added.

The commission will look at early intervention and recommend the best models, advising on how they could be extended across the country. It will also look at how schemes could be funded, including through non-government streams. In January the commission will report on best practice and publish another document on funding by May 2011. The enquiry is being commissioned as one of the first pieces of work to be submitted to the Social Justice Cabinet Committee, which is chaired by Mr Duncan Smith. Nushra Mansuri, joint BASW manager (England), said it needed to be asked where the funding for the work would come from, if not from government. “There is hard evidence out there that this is not boding well for the third sector who are doing some excellent, pioneering work but who end up being the first casualty with cuts,” Ms Mansuri said.“If the government is not going to fund this, it makes you question how committed it is.” She also pointed out that the Munro review has been asked to look at early intervention. “Education minister Michael Gove set out three areas for Munro to look at and early intervention is one of those strands.

Her call for evidence on this area ends today just after this commission has been announced.” “This commission will be broader and wider than the Munro review which is in the context of child protection but it doesn’t come across as joined-up thinking and the government is not putting their money where their mouth is,” she said.