First Annual Update from A Better Start – National Evaluation
In October 2022, the A Better Start Evaluation Team launched the first in a series of five annual podcasts where they discuss the evaluation findings to date and talk to those leading the different elements of the evaluation about their work so far and what they plan to do next.
A Better Start is the ten-year (2015-2025), £215 million programme set-up by The National Lottery Community Fund (the Fund), the largest funder of community activity in the UK. Five A Better Start partnerships based in Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham, and Southend-on-Sea are supporting families to give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life. Working with local parents, the A Better Start partnerships are developing and testing ways to improve their children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional development, and speech, language, and communication. The work of the programme is grounded in scientific evidence and research. A Better Start is place-based and enabling systems change. It aims to improve the way that organisations work together and with families to shift attitudes and spending towards preventing problems that can start in early life.
The national evaluation of A Better Start is being undertaken by The A Better Start Evaluation Team led by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) with our partners: University of Sussex; Research in Practice; the National Children’s Bureau; and RSM.
The ABS Evaluation Team are working with A Better Start grant funded partnerships based in Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham, and Southend-on-Sea to achieve the following four evaluation aims:
1. To draw upon the evaluation objectives and provide evidence for primary audiences (A Better Start grantholders and partnerships) and secondary audiences (commissioners – including local and national government - and local and national audiences).
2. To provide evidence to support A Better Start grantholders to improve delivery outcomes throughout the lifetime of the programme.
3. To enable the Fund to confidently present evidence to inform policy and practice initiatives addressing early childhood development.
4. To work with local A Better Start evaluation teams to avoid duplication of evidence and enable collation of evidence from local evaluations.
The A Better Start national evaluation runs from April 2021 until March 2026.