Harvard link for Blackpool child development project

Merle Davies
Merle Davies
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A council-backed project aimed at improving children's lives in Blackpool's most deprived areas has been recognised by leading American university Harvard.

A council-backed project aimed at improving children's lives in Blackpool's most deprived areas has been recognised by leading American university Harvard.

The Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development is the first UK organisation to be accepted into the Harvard University ‘Frontiers of Innovation’ (FOI) portfolio.

The FOI develops new ways of working with parents of young children and will link Blackpool with the Harvard Centre on The Developing Child – the world-leading centre for promoting innovative science-based approaches to improving child health and behaviour.

Merle Davies, director at Blackpool’s Centre for Early Child Development based at Bickerstaffe House, said: “A team from Blackpool visited Harvard in May this year and attended training.

"We then submitted a proposal for FOI portfolio status in September and received the wonderful news that we’d been successful.

"I believe we are one of only 30 other organisations to receive this prestigious accreditation."

The team at Blackpool, whose partners include Blackpool Council and the NSPCC, will benefit from training in evaluation approaches and will be recognised as a Harvard Frontier of Innovation site, the first in the UK and the second only in Europe.

The status was awarded following a proposal to further develop the community connector initiative.

Community Connectors are Blackpool residents who work with families in the poorest neighbourhoods, helping spread key messages about early child health and development.

It is hoped linking families together makes parents feel less isolated and gives them more access to the services they need.