Next review: 2017

This guidance aims to define how the social and emotional wellbeing of vulnerable children aged under 5 years can be supported through home visiting, childcare and early education. The term ‘vulnerable’ is used to describe children who are at risk of, or who are already experiencing, social and emotional problems and need additional support.

The guidance  is for all those responsible for planning and commissioning children's services in local authorities (including education), the NHS and the community, voluntary and private sectors.

It also for: GPs, health visitors, midwives, psychologists and other health practitioners, social workers, teachers and those working in all early years settings (including childminders and those working in children’s centres and nurseries).

The recommendations cover:

  • Strategy, commissioning and review
  • Identifying vulnerable children and assessing their needs
  • Ante- and postnatal home visiting for vulnerable children and their families
  • Early education and childcare
  • Delivering services.

The recommendations:

  • Adopt a ‘life course perspective’
  • Focus on social and emotional wellbeing as the foundation for the healthy development of vulnerable children and to offset the risks relating to disadvantage
  • Aim to ensure universal, as well as more targeted, services provide them with additional support
  • Should be used in conjunction with local child safeguarding policies.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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