28/10/2010

More Help For Disadvantaged Families

Twice as many disadvantaged families will get help from a programme which provides intensive support and home visits from early pregnancy until a child is two years old, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today announced.

So far, around 6,000 families in England have benefited from Family Nurse Partnerships. The Government is committed to doubling that number by 2015. This follows the Government’s announcement last week to recruit an additional 4,200 health visitors over the same period to ensure all families receive the support they need.

Family Nurse Partnerships complement and support the work of health visitors, providing the “intensive care” end of prevention for families who need more help to care well for their children and themselves.

Family nurses build close, supportive relationships with families and guide first-time teenage parents so that they adopt healthier lifestyles for themselves and their babies, provide good care for their babies and plan their futures. Dads are also involved in many visits and are enthusiastic about the programme.

The Family Nurse Partnership programme has been tested in England since 2007 and is based on more than 30 years of US research which has shown significant benefits for disadvantaged young families, together with substantial cost savings to the public purse of $5 for every $1 invested.

Early evidence in England is suggesting that parents involved in the scheme:
  • Are reducing smoking in pregnancy and are more likely to breastfeed
  • Have aspirations for the future and are taking up employment and education opportunities
  • Are more confident as parents and are learning how to care well for their babies
Andrew Lansley said: “Every child deserves the best start in life. The first years of life have a long lasting impact on a child’s future health, relationships and happiness.

“We know that early intervention – as provided by the Family Nurse Partnership programme – can help young parents to look after their children better, and can help break inter-generational patterns of disadvantage.

“That’s why I want to see the numbers of families who get this intensive support to double by 2015. This, together with our plans to put 4,200 new health visitors into the workforce, will ensure that more and more young families – particularly those living in disadvantaged areas – get the help they need.

“We will shortly be publishing a public health White Paper which will set out how we will help disadvantaged areas to change their environment helping whole communities to improve their health and wellbeing.”

(BMcN/GK)

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