Early Action overview

More than 2 million children are estimated to be living in difficult family situations.[1]

Early action defines the approach we’ve pioneered for more than 25 years across local communities: from targeted interventions at the earliest opportunity for children and families most at risk, to early support for parents and children in need of a little extra help to prevent problems from escalating. Both lay the foundations for children to grow up strong, resilient and with hope for their future.

Effective early action gives children hope for the future and saves money in the long run.

EARLY ACTION 17-million

By understanding the needs of disadvantaged children our early action services deliver impressive results. For example, with our help 72% of 0 – 5 year olds we support achieve their development milestones in such things as speech and language and they show a 45% improvement in their readiness for school. 

The current challenge for local authorities remains their ability to implement longer-term preventative measures when faced with severe budget cuts. This is forcing them to focus on highly targeted, reactive delivery even though failure to intervene early in social problems has been estimated to cost £17bn a year.[2]

Our Early Action services


Over 350 effective early action services nationwide

Despite these pressures we continue to make the case for nationwide early preventative action (see our policy and campaign work) and we continue to demonstrate the positive impact of our informed, evidence-based early action services. Our services deliver sustainable, long-term value:

  • Children are protected from abuse, exploitation and neglect
  • Children perform better at school, cope better with challenges in life and develop into healthier, happier adults
  • Families stay together
  • Authorities and local communities spend less on care, crime and anti-social behaviour.

Our Policy and Research Work


Not intervening early can mean, in the worst cases, family breakdown and irreparable social and emotional damage for children.

Our programmes work because they are based on a firm understanding of the needs of disadvantaged children and young people.  Our staff are highly skilled and trained and our systems, like our unique e-Aspire database, support the effective identification of need, appropriate service delivery and the measurement of progress.


For example we can look at the needs of children in our services aged 0 – 5 and ensure our innovations address the most pressing needs.  

EARLY ACTION 74%-rules

We can also ensure our parenting support programmes help parents with both their parenting skills and other challenges they may face, like managing their money. 

For example we see 74% of children (aged 0 - 5) benefit from their parents becoming more confident about setting appropriate and effective rules and boundaries for their children. We also see 72% of parent/carer(s) improve the management of their finances with our support.


[1] Ofsted Early Help Report 2015

[2] Spending on Late Intervention, The Early Intervention Foundation, 2015 

Improvement data based on Action for Children e-Aspire analysis of 7,219 children aged 0 - 5 (April 2015 - March 2016).

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