Build on Home-Start to give kids a chance

The Guardian - 04 Oct 2018

Your correspondents raise very important points around the significance of Home-Start (Letters, 3 October). I share their view that Home-Start has always been a brilliant and often overlooked programme. Back when Sure Start was beginning to receive significant investment under the Labour government, I lobbied for a chunk of these new monies to be put into Home-Start. It works with parents in their own home, which can only be good for children as well as the parents’ happiness and sense of wellbeing and value.

The proposition I made in my letter of 28 September would take foundation years policy into new territory. As well as hopefully getting a Home-Start service, the intensive programme for which I advocate would involve parents receiving two home visits a week – with a new book or educational toy being brought in for their child during each visit – and being given greater confidence to read to, and have fun with, their child.

By building on the Home-Start model with a programme along these lines – protecting parents’ mental health, strengthening the bonds with their child, and fostering a first-class home learning environment – the country would give itself a fighting chance of preventing children born into disadvantaged homes becoming poor adults.
Frank Field MP
Independent, Birkenhead