ParentChild+ improving school readiness

Toddler playing in nursery with blue plastic teapot

ParentChild+ can change lives

Imagine a world where every child enters school ready to succeed because every parent has the knowledge, skills, and resources to build school readiness where it starts: the home. This is the aim of ParentChild+ which Family Lives has brought to the UK. The programme supports the home-learning environment by working closely with parent and child and aims to increase school readiness, improve social-emotional skills and increase a family's engagement with appropriate services and social networks. 

This work has been funded by the Early Years Social Action Fund. Family Lives is one of five organisations selected to take part in the Early Years Social Action Fund. The Early Years Social Action is a £1 million fund from innovation foundation Nesta and the Office for Civil Society.

​What is ParentChild+?

Improving children's school readiness

The programme does this through home visits, modelling with the parent how to support their child with their emotional, physical, language and cognitive development. Home visitors visit families for half an hour, twice a week for up to 92 visits, giving the family a toy or book each week to support the interactions. We constantly review the gifts to ensure they reflect the cultural backgrounds of our families and this year have applied an anti-bias checklist to our choices. Home visitors also take additional activities to support individual needs and interests. Evidence-based studies from the US, where this programme originated, show that children who go through the programme enter school 10 months ahead of their chronological age, with a 30% higher graduation rate at age 18 than their peers. The intensity of the programme ensures that families who consistently attend sessions often have life-changing experiences.

Home visitors receive initial training and ongoing support in the following areas: child development; parental engagement; building respectful, trusting relationships with families and communities; the ethics of home visiting; and cultural competence. The programme addresses a range of outcomes for parents, including a child’s cognitive gains, social and emotional gains, and home environment outcomes.

The evidence 

ParentChild+ has a strong evidence base of effectiveness in the US. Children on the programme are 50 per cent more likely to measure ready for kindergarten, they score 2.5 times higher on social-emotional skills assessment than their peers, and they enter school performing 10 months above their chronological age. You can also read the final report of the Evaluation of pilot delivery of ParentChild+ in England, 2018-2020.

Key aims of the programme

  • To improve children’s readiness for school 
  • To improve their long-term outcomes 
  • To close the achievement gap between low and higher-income families 

Delivery in the UK

Family Lives are delivering ParentChild+ directly in Nottingham, Newcastle, the London Boroughs of Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, and Tower Hamlest. This is an ideal programme to support those families who are not accessing the free two-year-old childcare entitlement, and who are at risk of entering school significantly behind their peers. It is currently estimated that nearly 30% of eligible families or more than 70,000 families across England arent't accessing the childcare entitlement. 

Since January 2019, with funding from the Education Endowment Foundation, we have a team of 16 delivering the programme to 132 families as part of a Randomised Controlled Trial in South Yorkshire, with an evaluation team from the University of York. In London, the team delivering ParentChild+ in Westminster, and Kensington & Chelsea has increased and is now supporting an additional 48 children, including from families affected by the Grenfell tragedy. Our home visitors received additional training around trauma.

We have also expanded ParentChild+ into East London, setting up in Tower Hamlets, an area with the highest child poverty rate in the country coupled with the lowest uptake of the free 2-year-old nursery offer. On average, these children start school 15 months behind their more affluent peers. We work closely with the local authority; they are actively referring families, providing desk space and storage facilities for the books and toys provided to the families.

Last year we supported 275 families through ParentChild+, providing over 9,000 sessions. 

For more information about ParentChild+

Family Lives are delivering ParentChild+ directly in Nottingham, Newcastle and the London Borough of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea. If you would like to find out more about ParentChld+, please get in touch:

For Nottingham contact Kate Warren

For South Yorkshire contact Lauren Howie

For Newcastle contact Laura Knight

For all other areas or enquiries please contact Ceri Cobain