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Blackpool Better Start is an inclusive partnership approach, collectively laying foundations that will enable babies and young children to thrive in the context of sensitive and responsive relationships with their caregivers. It is a strategic investment by the National Lottery. The case for investing in Early Childhood Development (ECD) is compelling. There is strong evidence from multiple disciplines that pregnancy and early years is a particularly sensitive period of life, when foundations are set for future learning, behaviour and health. Marmot, M. (2010) Dartington Social Research Centre (2013)(Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000; Shonkoff, Richter, van der Gaag & Bhutta, 2012). The programme is inspired by collective impact and wider systems change models and a community development framework, reducing key stressors and building on strengths. We are taking a whole systems approach.

Through a place based approach we are measuring impact across outcomes through individual programme level quantitative measures, utilising stories and listening to seldom heard voices through a community engagement strategy. The programme takes a test and learn approach and learning is gathered from staff and service users. Support measures are in place to mitigate risk, with robust structures for staff and families. The partnership is evaluating the impact and sharing learning within and beyond A Better Start nationally.

Early indications of success include a significant reduction in childhood dental caries and children being admitted to hospital due to unintentional and serious injury, and an increase in the number of children achieving a good level of development by the end of reception.

Key elements of the approach have been identified as 1) coproduction of services alongside the community; 2) building community capacity through the creation of volunteer support structures and providing entry-level jobs for local parents; 3) collaboratively implementing a range of innovative and evidence-based programmes to tackle systemic issues; 4) the creation of a common language for professionals and parents to discuss early child development and 5) workforce and systems reform through the implementation of trauma-informed practice. The shared learning which can be disseminated to date as a result of this approach is of benefit to public health practitioners and wider services globally.

Improving ECD outcomes is not the responsibility of any professional or service. Blackpool Better Start illustrate the potential of joined up, systems-wide approaches to improving ECD outcomes. The work will put the science and evidence of ECD into practice.