Child psychotherapists have been involved in the relaunch of a cross-party manifesto that highlights the importance of acting early to enhance outcomes for children.
The 1001 Critical Days manifesto, published yesterday (Monday), has gained the support of members of parliament from eight different parties in a bid to achieve better perinatal mental health and stronger attachment between parents and their babies from the start.
Originally launched in the last Parliament to persuade all political parties to incorporate these measures into their election manifestos, the 1001 Critical Days manifesto was spearheaded by MP Andrea Leadsom who set up a Parliamentary All Party Group to raise the profile of early years' issues.
Main sponsors of the manifesto, which calls on ministers to adopt it as government policy across a number of departments led by Health, include former Children's Minister and MP Tim Loughton, Shadow Children's Minister and MP Sharon Hodgson, former Minister for Mental Health Norman Lamb and representatives from SNP, Plaid, SDLP, DUP and Green MP Caroline Lucas.
The manifesto takes its title from the period from conception to age two when a baby's brain is developing fastest and he or she is most susceptible to forming strong bonds of attachment with a primary carer. It says many of the social problems seen in society have resulted from poor parenting skills often as a result of a parent having had bad experiences as a baby and creating a "generational downward spiral". The manifesto's goal is for every baby to receive sensitive, appropriate and responsive care from their main caregivers in the first years of life with more proactive help from the NHS, health visitors, children's centres and other public bodies.
Child psychotherapist Tessa Baradon, who works at the Anna Freud Centre, said: "The baby's earliest relationship with his parents/caregivers are the most significant he is likely to have and are likely to be formative of his personality, health, friendships, work patterns over the course of his life. The 1001 manifesto is trying to get the message across to all those who directly work with infants and their families as well as those who create policies that affect families with babies."
Read the press release in full here