ChildLinks Issue 1: Working with Fathers

Barnardos. (2007). ChildLinks Issue 1: Working with Fathers.
The first years in a child’s life are the most critical in terms of learning and development. Children's developmental needs at this stage are time-bound, if they go unfulfilled in these early years, it is difficult to compensate further down the line. We know from our own experience that early childhood care and education has significant benefits for children, their families and the wider community. This is evidenced from research (the High/ Scope Perry Pre-school study), which found that early intervention through quality early childhood care and education improves children's lives in both the short and long term. For example, children stay in school longer and have better employment prospects. The research also shows reduced cost to society in terms of reduced needs for social services support, fewer teenage pregnancies, fewer children leaving school early and fewer prison places. Successive governments have shied away from providing a full universal quality early childhood education and care service. With the general election imminent, increasingly political parties are pledging to introduce a universal pre-school year, which is to be welcomed. Barnardos has published a children’s declaration, A million reasons to get it right, calling for a series of actions across a range of issues including the Constitutional Amendment, Early Childhood Education and Care, Child Protection, Poverty, Education, Health, Housing and Alcohol. Barnardos is calling for the following four action points on Early Childhood Education and Care: Introduce a one year free quality Early Childhood Education and Care place for every child in the year prior to starting primary school. The roll-out of these places should begin with children experiencing disadvantage. Provide professional quality training for all those working with pre-school children. Ensure quality Early Childhood Education and Care services are affordable to all parents by providing financial support to childcare providers that adhere to national quality standards. Implement a comprehensive support system for parents, including 26 weeks paid parental leave in addition to the 26 weeks paid maternity leave. This will enable a child to have a parent at home with them during the first year of life and remove some of the stress being experienced by parents.