NICE publish new guidance on the social and emotional wellbeing of vulnerable children under five


These new recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) cover home visits, early education and childcare for vulnerable children.

The public health guidance recognises that disadvantage before birth and in a child’s early years can have life-long, negative effects on health and wellbeing.

It aims to ensure that both universal and more targeted services provide the additional support all vulnerable children need to ensure their mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Children living in disadvantaged circumstances are more likely to experience social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, and as a result, poor health, education and employment outcomes. For example, measures of ‘school readiness’ show that the poorest 20% of children are more likely to display conduct problems at age 5, compared to children from more affluent backgrounds.

Local early interventions that support and protect vulnerable children’s social and emotional wellbeing are crucial to ensure their healthy development, capacity to learn and achieve at school.

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 is 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


Social and emotional wellbeing: early years (PH40) (PDF). NICE, 24 Oct 2012.

Share on Facebook Tweet this on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+