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Issues in Earlier Intervention

Identifying and supporting children with additional needs

Earlier intervention is a cornerstone of government policy on supporting children and families with additional needs, and the benefits of this are rarely questioned nor the meaning of ‘earlier intervention’ fully explored. The potential for early support to save money by avoiding the necessity for substantial public expenditure at a later stage has attracted considerable attention, not least from commissioners of services, although attempts to demonstrate this through empirical research have proved challenging.

This review and scoping study was commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to provide a more nuanced understanding of concepts such as prevention and early intervention; to draw together literature from research and policy evaluations to illustrate these issues; and to suggest how the research agenda could be developed. The three substantive chapters of the report cover: key concepts and issues in earlier intervention; evidence on the early identification of children’s additional needs (including any impact of the Every Child Matters reforms); and evidence of the effectiveness of selected interventions provided at different levels of need.