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15.10.12

Early intervention vital to combat behavioural problems

Parenting interventions must be widely available, fully funded and targeted at children who need them most, a new report recommends.

The Centre for Mental Health reviewed the implementation of parenting programmes in the report ‘A Chance to Change’, which calls for a national campaign to raise awareness and support evidence-based early interventions.

One in 20 children has a severe behavioural problem, the report states, with 15% having a moderate behavioural problem. These can increase the risk of suicide, poor health, unemployment and crime.

The Centre for Mental Health warns that budget cuts in the public sector are affecting the implementation of parenting programmes, with many having a low take-up and high drop-out rate.

Sean Duggan, chief executive at Centre for Mental Health said: “Where parenting programmes are delivered properly they have an enormous impact. By investing early in a child's future there is the potential both to dramatically improve a child's chances in life and save millions in future costs in health, education, social care and criminal justice.

“But these programmes must be delivered faithfully to the proven model and targeted to where there is the greatest need. Attempting to economise on parenting interventions greatly reduces their effectiveness and may even make matters worse. Proposed changes to the Early Intervention Grant next year could see funding for parenting interventions squeezed further and undermine the Government’s aim of enhancing early years interventions.”

Graham Allen, Labour MP for Nottingham North, author of the Government's independent review of early years interventions, said: “Early intervention works. Parents want the best for their children and parenting interventions can help them to improve the health of future generations. The threatened loss of the Early Intervention Grant could undermine these efforts and make it harder for local authorities to give more children a better start in life.”

The report is at: www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/publications/chance_to_change.aspx?ID=663

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