Early Action for children under 5

Early support for disadvantaged children helps them flourish in the future.

The early years are when a child learns to communicate, develop relationships and starts to explore the world. It sets the foundations for their future health and wellbeing but sadly, too many children don’t get the best start in life.


With a third of children in England not ready for school by age 5[1], and 59% of parents across the UK worried their children won’t be ready to start school[2], there’s a real need to help children achieve important early developmental milestones.

350 of our 611 services provide early support for disadvantaged under 5s. They

  • help young parents with practical advice
  • support babies and toddlers to develop
  • tackle abuse or neglect as early as possible


With our support, parents learn to understand their situation, develop new skills and address issues before they get too big or spiral out of control.

72% of children (aged 0 – 5) reach their developmental milestones with our support. 3 in 5 Children in the most deprived areas of England do not reach a good level of development by the time they are 5.


Promoting positive parenting

We assess the needs of each family to deliver the most effective one-to-one or group based support they need. Programmes like our Triple P parenting programme are backed up by more than 30 years of ongoing research and gives parents straightforward, practical strategies to help them develop strong, healthy relationships, confidently manage their children’s behaviour and prevent problems developing.  

With our help, 80% of children (aged 0 - 5) have more positive relationships with other children and their parent/carer(s).

Our work with parents

Being ready to start school

How ready a child will be to start school is dependent on a wide range of factors unique to their individual abilities and circumstances. These include:

  • their communication skills like speech and language development and the ability to listen
  • their social skills and the ability to get along with other children and adults
  • their physical skills from running and playing to using a crayon or pencil.

Our staff are skilled in supporting children’s social, emotional and physical development and help guide those most disadvantaged to achieve these early learning goals. We also profile local areas we work in to establish support networks, share best practice and ensure our services meet the specific needs of each local area.

Ready for school 

Stopping cycles of deprivation

Our services focus on those most in need. We help parents have a proactive approach to learning and skills development including helping workless parents gain employability skills which will, in turn, helps build their children’s own aspirations and future opportunities.

Our campaigning work aims to put early years and better support for parents at the heart of the government agenda.  

Our campaigning work

[1] Early Years Foundation Stage Profile results (2014).

[2] Action for Children poll of 511 parents, (April 2016).

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

Help us do more.

Your support will help us make life better for the UK's most vulnerable children and young people.