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Dorset Becomes An 'Early Intervention' County

Local Authorities in Dorset have won two national places to provide Early Intervention to children and families in Dorset, in a bid to break the cycle of underachievement and tackle the root cause of social problems.

The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) announced today that Dorset County Council and Borough of Poole have both secured ‘Pioneering Places’. There were just twenty places available across the country.

A key role of the EIF will be to provide advice and support to local commissioners on evidence, social finance and payment-by-results and to help them choose early intervention programmes. It will also gather evidence and research for what works for early intervention in the UK. It will support local authorities and partners so that they can provide a more bespoke service for children and families in Dorset who are in need of support to achieve their full potential.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset Martyn Underhill said: “This is wonderful news for Dorset. If we can change the outcomes for 0-5 year olds, we can change a generation. 5-6 year olds who are failing to achieve in reading, writing or speech tend to remain at that level, failing to achieve until adulthood. This leads to increased frustration, low self esteem and under achievement, which in turn increases the risk of offending and issues of poor anger management. A multi-agency joined up approach to intervene early in dysfunctional families, or families at risk of dysfunction, can change children’s outcomes.”

The launch of the Early Intervention Foundation in April 2013 attracted cross party support. It was widely seen as the one of the biggest agendas in dealing with difficulties in the lives of vulnerable children, young people and families in the critical early years.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Cabinet member for children's safeguarding and families at Dorset County Council, said:"This is a fantastic programme and I'm delighted that Dorset has been selected as one of the first Early Intervention Places. The first few years of a child's life have a major impact on their future development and if we can tackle the root of a problem early on, we can help prevent matters getting worse.We all have a duty to make sure that children are given equal chances in life. By joining forces with the Police and Crime Commissioner, plus colleagues in areas such as health and the fire service, we can pool our expertise and make best use of the money we have to help change children's lives for the better."

Councillor Janet Walton, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Children and Families, Borough of Poole, said: “We very much look forward to working with our partners to delivery this exciting project. Here in Poole, we would really benefit from the Foundation’s input in consulting with families on their journey through early intervention services and to gain their views on what worked for them. We would also like to see how our early intervention services match up against nationally emerging best practice.”

The Early Intervention Foundation was set up to champion and support early intervention measures to support a child's growth. It consists of a consortium of organisations including 4Children, Achievement for All and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

EIF CEO, Carey Oppenheim said: “The EIF believes that addressing the root causes of social problems, rather than trying to fix their after-effects, is better not only for individual children but for our society as a whole. Underpinned by robust evidence our mission is to change to a predominant culture from costly late reaction to effective early intervention, ensuring children at risk of poor outcomes are given the extra help needed to develop social and emotional skills to progress in life and in turn to save money. The first wave of 20 pioneering places will ground that mission in real life, giving us invaluable working examples of success.”

Mr Underhill added: “If all agencies work together to remove chaos, criminality or poor parenting, we can give new children a chance their siblings and parents didn’t have. Policing isn’t just about picking up the pieces, and reacting to issues, it’s about being pro-active as well.  As Tom Winsor said: ‘it’s also about prevention’. Dorset Police have a duty to try and prevent future crime and disorder and the Chief Constable and I are committed to supporting Early Intervention in Dorset. We both welcome the new Early Intervention Foundation scheme and congratulate Dorset County Council and Borough of Poole for securing two bids for our county. We look forward to working with partners on this exciting new initiative”.