Expert reaction from social policy expert Naomi Eisenstadt to Sutton Trust report

Comment from: Naomi Eisenstadt, the Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality to the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP. Ms Eisenstadt was the first director of the Labour Government’s Sure Start unit and a former  director of the social exclusion task force and is also an honorary research fellow at Oxford University.

 Responding to: Closing Gaps Early,a review of the current state of early years policy in the UK by The Sutton Trust

Ms Eisenstadt said: “This excellent report brings together 3 areas of social policy that are rarely looked at as a whole: early years childcare, interventions to support parents in their role as parents including parental leave policies, and income transfers to reduce child poverty. The report rightly argues that if Government is serious in its intentions to improve social mobility, action is needed on all three fronts.

There is consistent evidence that the benefits of early years childcare are only realized when the care offered is high quality, and high quality care requires well qualified staff. The report concludes that too many children are still in care settings where staff are poorly qualified.

There is also consistent evidence that the most important factor in child outcomes is the home learning environment, yet few programmes have yielded the positive results hoped for. Again the report urges the Government to continue to test out new ways of helping parents provide stimulation at home, and ensure promising programmes are brought to scale.
Finally, the report rightly points out that adequate income plays a major role in reducing family stress, thereby ensuring that the benefits of quality childcare, parental leave and parenting support are not undermined.”

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