Better Start champion backs national launch of action on child poverty

Merle Davis, director of the Centre for Early Child Development, part of the NSPCC Better Start campaign

Merle Davis, director of the Centre for Early Child Development, part of the NSPCC Better Start campaign

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The boss of Blackpool’s groundbreaking Better Start scheme joined the Children’s Commissioner at the launch of a report urging local authorities and the Government to work together to tackle child poverty.

Merle Davis, director of the Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development, joined Anne Longfield at the launch of ‘Changing the Odds’, a report of research into local services that prevent poverty.

Ms Davis said: “Blackpool Better Start is delighted the Children’s Commissioner is addressing the need to intervene at the earliest stage in a child’s life.

“We know, at the Centre for Early Child Development, how toxic stress in the early years can derail healthy development and the negative impact that can have on a child’s future health and wellbeing.

“That is why the NSPCC with their local authority, health, community and police partners in the town are refocussing their resources to support parents and families at this crucial stage in a child’s life.”

The £75m 10-year Better Start initiative is aimed at helping families with children aged up to three years living in Blackpool’s most deprived areas. Funding includes £45m from the Lottery and match funding from partners including Blackpool Council.

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England said: “Living in poverty has a lasting impact on children’s lives, adversely affecting their development, educational attainment, health and wellbeing.

“At the age of three, a child who has been raised in poverty is likely to have poorer health and a lower level of educational attainment than one who has not.

“Investment in the early years is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty and improving outcomes in later life.

“With dwindling budgets and increasing need, local authorities must focus on developing innovative new ways to address child poverty so that they do not store up problems for the future.”