Skip to content.

Sharing the learning from our early years programmes at the NSPCC

Research briefing

Publication date October 2023

The NSPCC has developed, delivered and evaluated a wide range of work with expectant parents, infants and children aged 0-5 years.

This briefing brings together learning from past evaluations of our early years programmes to help inform the work of professionals who commission, design or deliver services for families and children.

Findings are divided into two key themes:

  • what helps and hinders families’ engagement in programmes
  • the lessons learned about implementing, delivering and embedding a programme in its early stages.

Authors: Jenny Speirs, Emma Smith and Emma Belton

Download Sharing the learning from our early years programmes at the NSPCC
Download the PDF

Key message

Understanding and engaging with families’ diverse experiences helps increase the accessibility of our early years work

More families are able to access and get the most from our early years work when we understand and meaningfully engage with their experiences. Making programmes accessible, inclusive and culturally sensitive can help more families to engage with them; whilst building flexibility into our programmes can help practitioners meet individual families’ needs.

Further messages

Creating accessible, inclusive materials and delivery methods allow programmes to meet more families’ needs

Our evaluations identified a number of ways practitioners increased accessibility, including: addressing the practical barriers families faced, such as lack of transport or childcare; using plain English and providing translations of programme materials; and tailoring guidance to make it more culturally aware.

Relationships are key to the success of a programme

Practitioners described the importance of taking time and using a strengths-based approach to build mutually trusting relationships with families. Supportive peer relationships were seen as a key aspect of programmes involving groupwork. Establishing strong relationships with referring organisations and partners helped implement programmes that were more sustainable.

It can be a tricky balancing act to successfully implement a new programme

Taking a flexible approach to delivery and embedding a new programme within its local context helped it meet the needs of the local community. However, this had to be balanced with taking a consistent approach so that all families receive the same quality and core elements of a programme.


Please cite as: Speirs, J., Smith, E. and Belton, E. (2023) Sharing the learning from our early years programmes at the NSPCC. London: NSPCC.