This document is for all those who commission, lead and deliver services for mothers and fathers during pregnancy and for very young children to the age of five. The impact of these years on children’s opportunities and lives, and our wider society, has been described in a series of recent major reports from Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Graham Allen MP, and Dame Clare Tickell. Professor Sir Michael Marmot’s review of health inequalities, the Green Paper ‘Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability’ and Professor Eileen Munro’s review of child protection also make important contributions.

This document, developed jointly by the Department for Education and the Department of Health, describes the system needed to support families in the foundation years and how to make that system a reality by building on what has already been achieved.


  • Foreword
  • Executive summary
  • Section one: Introduction
  • Section two: The importance of the foundation years
  • Section three: Focusing on child development
  • Section four: Parents and families at the heart of services
  • Section five: Intervening early
  • Section six: Skilled professionals
  • Section seven: A strong relationship with the sector
  • Annex A: Response to recent reviews
  • Annex B: Timetable to implementation