A Better Start - National Evaluation

Project outline


A Better Start is a national area-based intervention aimed at improving the dietary, socio-emotional and language/learning outcomes of children less than three years of age living in areas of socio-economic deprivation.

The impact of the national ABS programme is being measured by tracking a group of families from the 5 intervention areas in addition to a comparable group of similar families living in carefully selected comparison areas – this will tell us about the level of impact ABS has had on families. The impact evaluation will assess the following in both A Better Start areas and the comparison areas:

  • At an individual level, short-, medium- and long-term changes for parents and children looking at socio-emotional health; nutrition; and speech, language and learning. This data will be collected through a large scale survey and collection of administrative data. Collection of baseline data for the 'You and Your Child' survey will begin in 2016 and the full survey in 2018.
  • At an area level looking at outcomes across the wider population using administrative data.

Further scientific data will also be collected for a smaller sub-group of children to examine the impact on a number of biometric measures. Other assessments will be used to examine parent-infant interaction and the home learning environment. All this impact data will be brought together to provide a robust assessment of the programme and what it is achieving.  The analysis will also assess the cost-effectiveness of the programme, both overall and for each area.  An extensive implementation evaluation is also being undertaken to enable an assessment of ‘what works, for whom, under what circumstances’. 

For further information please go to: https://www.abetterstart.org.uk