Giving children the best start in life

Father reading to baby

Calderdale families will receive extra support to nurture their children’s early speech, language and communication skills at home, to help give them the best possible start in life.

This comes after Calderdale Council was chosen to take part in a national pilot for new communication training for health visitors, launched by the Department for Education and Public Health England. Calderdale is one of eight areas chosen in Yorkshire and Humber, and one of 42 nationally.

Projects around the country, totalling nearly £18 million, will include additional training for health visitors who work with families of young children to spot speech, language and communication needs in the crucial early years, helping to address and support concerns when they can have the most impact.

In Calderdale, health visitors are part of the Public Health Early Years’ Service, commissioned by Calderdale Council and provided by Locala Community Partnerships. Health visitors offer support to new parents at home, and are a single point of contact between families and any other health and social care professionals who are providing support. The service will take part in the new training, delivered by the Institute of Health Visitors.

Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said:

“Getting the right support early on in life is so important. A child’s development starts at home, long before school, where everyday activities like playing, reading and chatting with your child are an opportunity for learning.


“We know that some parents need extra support to prepare their children for school. Health visitors play a great support role day in, day out, and now the new training will give them extra skills and confidence to recognise when a child may need more help with their language and literacy.”

Calderdale Council’s Director of Public Health, Paul Butcher, emphasised the importance of a child’s first 1000 days of life in his annual Public Health report in 2017. Paul added:

“We want to ensure every child in Calderdale has the chance to live a long, happy and healthy life. The first 1000 days of our lives are critical – they provide the foundations for virtually every aspect of human development. What happens during our early years has lifelong effects on many aspects of our health – from obesity, heart disease and mental health to educational achievement and income.”

Helping everyone to reach their full potential is a key part of the Vison2024 for Calderdale – ambitions for the borough in the run-up to its 50th birthday in 2024. Every child deserves the best start in life, and the work to promote language and literacy at home will help more children develop the skills they need to achieve their potential and live a fuller life. This supports one of the themes of the Vision – talent – by ensuring Calderdale is a place where this key quality can thrive.

The projects supporting children’s early communication skills are part of the Secretary of State for Education’s ambition to halve the number of children who do not achieve the expected level of communication and language standards for early years (from 28% to 14%).

The first phase of training with Calderdale’s health visitors is anticipated to start early in the New Year.

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