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Smart Start Conference: One Year On

The Smart Start Programme held its first annual conference on Wednesday 29th June at Benn Hall in Rugby. The conference set out to report on the progress of the programme after its first year and bring parents and organisations together to shape the future of services for children aged 0-5 years and their families. 120 delegates attended representing early years’ education, health, social care and the third sector alongside parents and carers from Warwickshire.

Dr John Linnane, Director of Public Health at Warwickshire County Council provided the keynote speech on the importance of parent-infant interaction and attachment, and how this can have a huge impact on a child’s brain development in the early years and their life chances.

Delegates were presented with an insight into the local context of the Smart Start programme and how more needs to be done to ensure all children in Warwickshire have the best start in life.

The results of the Smart Start Foundation Project’s research which involved hearing the needs and experiences of 1135 parents and carers of children aged 0-5 years, and 274 professionals working with these families, were then shared. Key themes that emerged from the findings include the need for services to work together and share information, to improve the reach and depth of support services to parents and the need for more mental health support for both parents and infants.

The draft Smart Start Strategy (PDF, 5.19 MB) and proposal for integration of services for 0-5s were presented and discussed.