Guidebook

Increasing the impact of Early Intervention: Nine key outcomes essential for children’s development

In our first version of our Programmes Library, we have classified interventions in nine outcome categories that represent a range of ways in which early intervention programmes can provide social value. The first two represent two broad domains of impact: 1) the family and home environment and 2) early child development. The last seven address specific outcomes that are beneficial to children and society, all of which can be understood in negative and positive terms.

  • The family and the home includes interventions that specifically target processes and settings that directly impact children’s development. These contexts include:
  • The quality of a child’s parenting and the parent child relationship
  • Family life and family relationships
  • The quality of the home environment.

 

  • Positive early child development includes programmes that address the needs and competencies of young children. This period is specifically emphasised because support offered to children in the early years has particularly high potential for supporting their development as they mature. Interventions represented in this category include support for:
  • Antenatal and perinatal development
  • The attachment relationship and young children’s emotional well-being
  • Early cognitive development
  • Early physical development
  • Young children’s entry into school.

 

  • Support children’s mental health and well-being includes interventions that aim to prevent children from developing mental health problems as they mature into adulthood. Examples of interventions falling into this category include programmes that:
  • Improve outcomes for children diagnosed with ADHD
  • Provide children with strategies for coping with depression and/or anxiety disorders
  • Prevent teen suicide and self-harming behaviour
  • Have evidence of improving children’s self-esteem, self-confidence and self-efficacy.

 

  • Prevent child maltreatment includes interventions that either have specific evidence of reducing and/or stopping child maltreatment in families where it has already occurred or evidence of preventing maltreatment of occurring in the first place. Interventions falling into this category include:
  • Universal programmes that aim to increase children’s awareness of maltreating behaviours and methods for reporting it
  • Interventions that target specific risk and protective factors known to contribute to child maltreatment
  • Targeted interventions for children at the edge of care
  • Interventions with specific evidence of preventing children from entering the care system or reducing the time spent in out-of-home care.

 

  • Enhance school achievement and employment opportunities includes programmes that aim to improve children’s academic performance and increase the likelihood of school completion. Interventions falling into this category include those that aim to improve:
  • Children’s school achievement, including their scores on standardised exams
  • Children’s behaviour in school (including self-regulatory and prosocial behaviour)
  • Teaching skills and the classroom environment
  • Communication between parents, teachers and school staff
  • Rates of school exclusion and drop out
  • Completion of secondary school and entry into higher education or training
  • Young people’s success in finding a job or vocational skill.

 

  • Prevent crime, violence and antisocial behaviour includes programmes with specific evidence of reducing children’s involvement in the criminal justice system, as well as programmes that aim to improve children’s behaviour more generally.  Interventions falling into this category include those that aim to:
  • Improve children’s behaviour at home or at school
  • Treat clinically diagnosed conduct or behavioural disorders
  • Prevent children from offending or re-offending.

 

  • Prevent substance misuse includes programmes that either address the specific needs of children diagnosed with a substance misuse problem, or programmes that seek to prevent substance misuse problems from occurring in the first place. Interventions falling into this category include:
  • School-based curriculums that educate children about the risks associated with drinking and illegal drug use
  • Specific therapies for children with a drug or alcohol addiction.

 

  • Prevent risky sexual behaviour and teen pregnancy includes interventions that discourage children from engaging in risky sexual behaviour, as well as the negative outcomes associated with it (e.g. teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases). Interventions falling into this category include:
  • School-based curriculums that discourage general risk taking behaviours (e.g. binge drinking; antisocial behaviour; physically risky activities)
  • School-based programmes that provide specific information about contraception and safe sex.  
  • Programmes that specifically target young women who are at risk of becoming pregnant and carrying their child to term before the age of 18.

 

  • Prevent obesity and promote physical development includes all programmes that aim to increase and/or enhance children’s physical activity, as well as programmes that teach children and parents about healthy eating and food choices. Programmes falling within this category include:
  • Interventions that specifically target children identified as being overweight
  • Programmes that prevent children from becoming overweight in the first place.
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