A sound investment in families' futures

Children 1st local team leader Theresa Marsili explains how we’re making a difference to children and families in Glasgow.

The terms Early Intervention and Prevention are public policy buzzwords. They refer to investment in activities aimed at addressing need at the earliest possible opportunity. The thinking behind it is that, by doing so, children and young people and families are supported before their difficulties become overwhelming.

A huge amount of Children 1st’s work in Glasgow is about prevention. We support families before their difficulties becoming overwhelming and focus on helping during their children’s earliest years. We do this because we believe it’s the best way to ensure children grow up happy, healthy, safe and secure. But an external analysis this year has shown that, even if a policy maker cared only about saving money, the case for investing in our work is unarguable. 
Inspiring Scotland found that, on average, it costs £3,000 for us to support a family in Glasgow through difficult times. But without such support at an early stage, the cost to public services if the family’s situation became overwhelming could be as much as £38,000 on average. 

The value for money we offer is best illustrated by real life stories such as this one. We host a parenting group at a Glasgow nursery, at which parents set the agenda and share skills and experiences. One of mums there, Ellie*, asked us for a bit more support. She felt that she was unable to comfort her daughter, Daisy, when she became upset or angry, and was worried that Daisy’s “temper tantrums” would affect their relationship. But as we got to know the family, we realised that Daisy had witnessed her dad’s violence towards mum and was struggling to deal with her emotions. 


One of the ways we’re supporting Ellie and Daisy is through use of video interaction guidance. We film them interacting. We play the clips back to Ellie, saying what we saw working well that she could build on. This technique can only be used by someone who’s completed three years of closely scrutinised training. We offer it as part of our general family support – and at a much lower cost than if Daisy’s anxiety had not been addressed at an early stage.

While we know our work represents great value for money, that knowledge isn’t what gets us fired up. It’s the feedback our workers receive from families they’ve helped. 

One said: “You’ve been a massive support not only for my kids but also for me.”

And another that: “You’ve changed our life in total. You’re the only person in almost 11 years who lifted our spirits and helped us to feel better and better.” 
* Names and some details have been changed