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Thriving Babies webinar - Academic Partnership and Alumni

On 28 March 2023, Amy Harmsworth and Agnes Turnpenny from IPC hosted an online webinar considering the policy context for an early help children approach. This included consideration of any learning from a pilot being delivered in Manchester City called the Thriving Babies:Confident Parents programme.

The 1,001 days from pregnancy to the second year of a child’s life are a critical time for development and set the foundations for children’s cognitive, emotional, and physical development (HM Government, 2021). The Born into Care report (Mason et al. 2022) highlighted that the number of infants in care proceedings have continued to increase in recent years; local authorities and national policymakers are concerned to better understand and reverse this trend.

The Thriving Babies: Confident Parents (TBCP) pilot programme is a multiagency partnership of local authority children’s services (Early Help and Social Care) and two voluntary sector providers with a national scope – Barnardo’s and Home-Start – in Manchester. The Partnership provides perinatal support to (prospective) parents who are recognised as having specific vulnerabilities including learning difficulties, mental ill health, domestic abuse, substance misuse, social isolation, or they are care experienced, a care leaver or have had a child previously removed from their care. TBCP interventions are led by a key family practitioner from one of the three partner agencies who deliver evidence-based parenting and therapeutic support to parents. A Think Family Coordinator within the programme provides connectivity with adult-focused services as required for individual families, for example substance misuse, mental health and/or learning disability.

IPC were joined by guest speaker Nicola Bailey, the Team Manager of the TBCP programme in Manchester City Council’s Children’s Services. Nicola shared why the programme was introduced, what it offers, and the impact, outcomes and learnings of the pilot so far.

Some of the insights from participants at the webinar included:

  • The TTBCP programme takes a whole family approach and offers intensive and effective support for new parents
  • Practitioners are offered effective training and capacity to do excellent work with parents. This supports good retention and recruitment
  • This offered effective, engaging and culturally attuned support for parents presenting with high risks and complex needs
  • Promising outcomes and findings have been achieved for this pilot
  • As with any pilot, there needs to be clear pre, and post, outcome measures to demonstrate the impact, including long term measures
  • An early help approach is important but can be challenging to receive long term funding, as the savings created may not be seen for many years
  • Local authorities may focus their efforts on the high need, high risk children e.g.15-16 year olds in care. This may have an unintended consequence of reducing a preventative approach and focus (which may prevent these older children going into care if we get it right)