Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Making a good start to family life

Publication of Maternity and Early Years - Making a good start to family life

The Government has published Maternity and Early Years - Making a good start to family life which aims to strengthen the 0-5 offer set out in Support for All: the Families and Relationships Green Paper to help families get off to the best start, even before the birth of their baby. It is available to download at


The document has been developed jointly by the Department of Health, The Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, drawing on the views of parents, children's centre staff and local health practitioners.

"Maternity and Early Years - Making a Good Start to Family Life" makes clear the case for helping families to give their baby the best possible start in life and sets out a vision of renewed and more integrated maternity and early years services that put the excellent clinical care already available at the centre of a wider network of family support:

- with commitments to consult on new entitlements for women to access maternity services early in pregnancy and make important choices around where to have their baby;

- where local services will join up so that families have continuous care and support from early pregnancy to at least the child's sixth month

- with a named children's centre contact offered to parents early in pregnancy, who will invite them into the children's centre, and access to a health visitor for every children's centre;

- where families will also be offered more help to prepare for parenthood so they can give their baby the best possible start in life

- with new antenatal education opportunities rolled out in settings that suit parents and with a further focus on the opportunities for fathers to get more involved

- including an invitation for both parents to attend a Family Start meeting at their children's centre and an opportunity to agree a Parents' Plan together; and

- understanding that families will have very different needs, and that some may want more support in preparing for parenthood, with extra support for those families that need it

- for instance by expanding the Family Nurse Partnership to help young, vulnerable first time families.

 Today Ann Girling and I are presenting our programme around maternal mental health to staff from Children's centres in Chester. Looks like we are doing our bit!

Elaine Hanzak


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