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Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families: evidence

An evidence resource on family disadvantage and its impact on children

This evidence resource accompanies the Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families publication. It provides an overview of key milestones of child developmentfrom pre-conception to early adulthood, and sets out how child development is influenced by multiple disadvantages affecting workless families. The resource has been developed as a prototype in conjunction with Professor Gordon Harold, with valuable inputs from Ruth Sellers, Amelia Smith and Victoria Simcock(School of Psychology, University of Sussex).

The key value of the resource is that it shows (i) how child development can be influenced by multiple disadvantages affecting families, (ii) how disadvantages can accumulate over the life course, and (iii) how disadvantages can be interrelated(for example, parental worklessnessmay be associated with parental conflict as well as poor parental mental health).

The purpose of the evidence resource is to chart key milestones for children across different ages and stages of development, up to and including the transition to adulthood. It is increasingly recognised that child development is affected by multiple factors including experiences during pregnancy, early childhood, middle childhood and adolescence, and that these experiences set the stage for long-term outcomes and future life chances (e.g. education, employment and mental health). There are numerous factors that can help to promote –or hinder –a child’s development before they are born, during childhood, adolescence and in transition to adulthood. These factors can persist, interacting with each other in complex ways, to influence key outcomes and developmental milestones.