The Warwick Consortium is conducting a 10-year study designed to evaluate the impact of A Better Start (ABS) across five selected intervention areas (Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend-On-Sea), compared with 15 matched comparison sites. We have called this the You and Your Child Study.The evaluation protocol for the impact evaluation of A Better Start is available here.
In addition to the impact evaluation, Warwick Consortium is also undertaking an implementation evaluation involving the collection of process data (e.g. inputs, activities, implementation, and outputs) from the participating sites, and a learning and dissemination workstream to ensure that the lessons in terms of what works, for whom, and why, are identified and widely disseminated.The evaluation protocol for the implementation evaluation of A Better Start is being revised and will be avalable here shortly.
The London School of Economics (LSE) are evaluating the economic impact of the A Better Start Programme using their model of Preventonomics. Read an introduction to the Preventonomics approach here.
The first report from the implementation evaluation focuses on learning from activity in the five successful areas relating to the development of their winning bid for funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Fulfilling Lives: A Better Start grant.
This second report of the implementation evaluation focuses on learning messages arising out of the grant set-up phase (September 2015 – March 2016).
What works evidence reviews
The following documents were produced by the Social Research Unit at Dartington to support the development of A Better Start:
The Science Within: What matters for child outcomes in the early years provides evidence from various fields to illustrate how adversity in a child’s home and wider environment translate into poorer outcomes in the areas of nutrition, language and social and emotional development.
What works in improving child outcomes in the early years provides an evidence based review of activities that are aimed at improving nutritional, socio-emotional and language outcomes for children from conception to three years.
Volunteering and early childhood outcomes evidence review
In 2015, the Big Lottery Fund commissioned Parents 1st to carry out an evidence review exploring if and how volunteering, peer support and ‘community champions’ projects can support the three A Better Start (ABS) child development outcomes. In addition Parents 1st were asked to create a framework and tools to support organisations and projects to develop and deliver volunteer projects. This review is intended to support the five ABS voluntary sector-led partnerships to design, develop and implement programmes of science and evidence-based services to improve outcomes in pregnancy and early life for children aged 0-3. The learning from this evidence review can be applied in multiple fields of practice and is not just relevant to early child development.
The key messages in the report are applicable to anyone who works in a volunteer project, whether as a volunteer or staff member; a health or social care professional interested in how volunteer projects fit with what you do; or as a public health or children’s services commissioner or a funder thinking about how to support volunteer projects. Each message can be traced back to the evidence in this report, and was judged to be important following workshops with all five ABS partnerships. To find out more about the six key principles and features of successful volunteer projects please read the Parents 1st volunteering evidence review findings here. Also available to download are the accompanying framework and tools to help use the findings from the evidence review in practice to develop and deliver volunteer projects.
As part of the development support work for A Better Start, The Social Research Unit at Dartington produced a review of national policy drivers and initiatives relevant to improving children’s health and wellbeing from conception to age three.
Learning and Development Events
A series of learning and development events for A Better Start are being delivered, initially focusing on the three programme outcomes. All presentations and materials from these events are or will be available.