The government has announced the launch of a new website developed by the national charity, 4Children, offering parents in England an encyclopaedic ‘one stop shop’ for all the information they might need for pregnancy and the first 5 years of their child’s life.
In conjunction with the website launch, the Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, is publishing two new foundation years policy documents – one for parents and families and the other for practitioners working with young children, setting out the government’s vision for the coming years. The government’s announcement has the potential to place England at the forefront of its European partners in presenting a coherent approach to the provision of support for families in order to give their children the best start in life.
The new website, Families in the Foundation Years: From pregnancy to children age 5, provides information and advice from recognised experts in the foundation years sector and is presented in a parent-friendly, comprehensive and authoritative form. The site will take parents systematically through what they can expect to encounter during pregnancy and the first five years of their child’s life, explaining what support and services they are entitled to in each phase of the child’s development and providing advice as well as signposting to the best sources of help available on other websites.
The project is the result of a partnership between the government and charities that work with families who have young children.
The overall aim of the website is to improve the later lives of children by ensuring their families have all the best advice and information to give their child the best possible start. Issues like teen pregnancy and getting in trouble with the police all have their beginnings in a child’s early development.
Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children said the site would be an invaluable resource:
“Whether you are a mum or a dad, whether you have just seen the positive result on a pregnancy test or are looking for your child’s first school, this new website from early years experts is spelling out the A to Z of all your unanswered questions. Parents-to-be suddenly face a million decisions that will effect the life of their child: they find themselves having to navigate their way through a maze of conflicting facts and figures from blogs and personal websites offering advice.”
“Getting the information and advice you need into one easy to find place is important because it helps you to give your child the best future. Parents tell us that good information is so important, but they often don’t know where to find it. And the better information a parent has, the more they feel they are in the driving seat of their child’s future.”
Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, said:
“Parents are the most important influence in a child’s early life. The experiences of children in their earliest years, good or bad, can shape their future life chances for years to come. That’s why we want to support families to bring up their children and raise the status of the foundation years.”
“Today, with 4Children, we have set out in one place what every mother and father should expect from pregnancy right through to when their child is five. This brings together everything parents need to know to help their child develop well, stay healthy and be ready for school.”
The www.foundationyears.org.uk website:
- explains how the first five years of a child’s life are the most important for their later development.
Families in the Foundation Years provides an encyclopaedia of trustworthy and reliable information for new parents with links to parent support groups; post natal depression; rights in the workplace; advice about relationships; family budgeting; supporting the baby’s development; finding local children’s centres; right up to preparing for the first day at school.
Whether parents want practical information about finding ante-natal groups, or how to arrange flexible working or plan the birth – all the information is here. Many families don’t want to be told by government what they must do: they want to feel they have choices and are free to act in what they regard as their own best interests. Putting all the best possible information into one easily accessible place is the best place to start.