Home-Start welcome the announcement that Andrea Leadsom will be conducting a review of early years services on behalf of the Government.

The review will look at reducing inequalities in the very youngest children from conception to age two and a half, aiming to ensure every baby is given the best possible start in life.

Home-Starts across the UK have been supporting families with babies and young children through challenging times for almost 50 years. We look forward to contributing to the review and sharing the experiences of families, volunteers and staff into how we overcome inequality and improve outcomes for children.

As this announcement shows, the first 1001 days are an absolutely critical period of every child’s life. Home-Start believes that a central focus must be on listening to parents, understanding their needs and ensuring they are given the best opportunities to support their children’s early development.

There is a vital need to ensure sustainable investment in volunteers in communities to support this, as part of the fabric of support available to parents alongside statutory services.

Home-Start has joined charities in the children and family sector in signing up to the recovery principles, which call for a new vision of childhood to support children, young people and their families to recover from the impact of COVID-19. But recovery must not mean going back to how things were before, with rising child poverty and services at breaking point.

Families see pressures over social isolation, loneliness, financial insecurity, inadequate housing, as well as poor mental and physical health. Now they face the long shadow that COVID-19 and enforced social distancing will cast for many years to come. The review must fully address the wider context and challenges that parents and families face and how these significant issues can be tackled. Now more than ever we need a cross-government approach that considers the needs of children, young people and their families in the round.

It is vital that the review and its recommendations are backed by investment in children and their families, as well as in the organisations and services that provide the support, opportunity and security that can transform lives.