Early intervention means identifying and providing effective early support to children and young people who are at risk of poor outcomes. Effective early intervention works to prevent problems occurring, or to tackle them head-on when they do, before problems get worse. It also helps to foster a whole set of personal strengths and skills that prepare a child for adult life. Early intervention can take different forms, from home visiting programmes to support vulnerable parents, to school-based programs to improve children’s social and emotional skills, to mentoring schemes for young people who are vulnerable to involvement in crime. While some have argued that early intervention may have its strongest impact when offered during the first few years of life, the best evidence shows that effective interventions can improve children’s life chances at any point during childhood and adolescence.
There are lots of skills that develop in the first three years of a child’s life. Some infants and toddlers meet developmental milestones more slowly than expected. This is called a developmental delay. Early intervention can help infants and toddlers with delays catch up in their development.