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About the Guidebook

EIF Guidebook provides information about early intervention programmes that have at least preliminary evidence of achieving positive outcomes for children. It provides information based on EIF’s assessment of the strength of evidence for a programme’s effectiveness, and on detail about programmes shared with us by those who design, run and deliver them.

The Guidebook serves as an important starting point for commissioners to find out more about effective early interventions, and for programme providers to find out more about what good evidence of impact looks like and how it can be captured.

As just one of our key resources for commissioners and practitioners, the Guidebook is an essential part of EIF’s work to support the development of and investment in effective early intervention programmes.

The Guidebook is not…

  • A kite mark or endorsement for any specific programme. There are intense debates about what constitutes strong or weak evidence. We think they are informative and provide important lessons about how to improve effectiveness. However, we also feel that any assessment of programme’s effectiveness needs careful interpretation. So while we provide information about an intervention’s effectiveness, this information should never be interpreted as validation, advisement or recommendation.
  • A complete or exhaustive list. There are thousands of interventions and approaches with various levels of evidence and we cannot include all of them. As we conduct further ‘What works’ reviews, we will continue to add more programme assessments to the Guidebook.
  • A guarantee or silver bullet. The interventions included here have some evidence of being effective. This evidence is not, however, a guarantee that the intervention will work in a specific location or setting. Many factors positively and negatively influence intervention outcomes. Interventions must therefore always be monitored within local settings to make sure that they are effective and providing value for money.
  • A set of simple answers. Interventions should always be selected on the basis of specific community needs and infrastructures. UK commissioners should never commission an intervention solely on the basis of inclusion on this list. Local judgment is always required.
  • A short cut or quick win. Effective early intervention can be challenging. While many of the best interventions provide clear implementation guidelines, these often require changes across local delivery systems and between agencies. The best research suggests that it often takes two or more years before an intervention or practice change will demonstrate positive results.
  • A recommendation for using programmes ‘off the shelf’. The primary aim of this list is to provide examples of ideas that work and options for local authorities. It does not aim to inhibit innovation or prohibit practices with evidence of being effective at the local level.

Guidebook basics

Published June 2024