‘Radical change’ is needed to focus services on the first thousand days after a baby is conceived until they reach their second birthday in West Sussex.
The 1,001 Critical Days Manifesto contains the ambition for every baby to receive sensitive, appropriate and responsive care, whilst ensuring parents feel confident that they are raising their child/children in a loving and supportive environment.
It highlights the importance of a child’s wellbeing and states that ‘radical change is needed to focus our services on the first 1,001 critical days’.
At the manifesto’s launch event earlier this month, Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “West Sussex services and professionals already recognise the significance of help early on and as a county we have been praised for our work.
“This manifesto puts in place a secure foundation to build upon. It’s a really positive start to ensuring our residents are receiving the support they and their loved ones need for the best start in life.”
The authority is the second in the country to commit to a 1,001 critical days manifesto following in the footsteps of Northamptonshire County Council in 2016.
Parliamentary Early Years Adviser, Clair Rees added: “Infant and early mental health development is an opportunity in which to lay the foundations of the mind for good mental health.
“It matters because prevention is cure. We can grow and evolve our knowledge base as a society, in order to take collective responsibility for our youngest citizens - strengthening together the village around the infant-family.”
Stephen Hillier, cabinet member for children - start of Life, explained the importance of this manifesto for families in West Sussex.
He said: “In West Sussex there are approximately 9,000 births every year, that’s a potential 18,000 residents who are seeking help and guidance. Our parents should feel confident, happy and supported during this important and emotional time.
“The manifesto covers different aspects of what might be needed in those critical first days from online information and support classes to integrated service data and joint assessments. We know that these points are integral to doing the right thing for our residents.”
West Sussex-based services and professionals who work with families and children within this age group are being asked to support the manifesto by visiting www.westsussex.gov.uk/1001Days
Organisations already signed up include the maternity teams from St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, Surrey and Sussex NHS Hospital Trust, which runs East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, as well as Sussex Community NHS Trust.
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