Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Strategy

Strategic priority 1: give every child the best start in life

We will ensure that children in Hertfordshire and west Essex have the best opportunity to be safe and well and to reach their potential at school and beyond.


Where we are now

The World Health Organisation’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health, the NHS Long Term Plan, the Public Health Strategy: Giving every child the best start in life and the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative agree that the first 1001 days from conception to age two lay the foundations for a child’s later cognitive, emotional, and physical development. We would extend that ‘best start’ through until a child is five years old.

The national independent review of Children’s Social Care (2022) shifts the lens towards locality based multi-agency family help and family safeguarding integrated service delivery. National Independent Review of Children’s Social Care Report

The National Panel Review of Child Deaths (2022) emphasises the need to strengthen information sharing and decision-making across all agencies and to build on the skills of our workforce. National Panel Review of Child Deaths Report

In Hertfordshire and west Essex:

  • There are health concerns linked to social disadvantage, increasing social and emotional difficulties in young children, mapping through to school exclusions (including primary), youth justice entrants and increasing numbers of children with social and communication difficulties.
  • There is a gap in attainment and attendance for vulnerable children including Children Looked After (CLA) Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and Youth Justice cohort.
  • In Essex 22.3% and in Hertfordshire 20.1% of children aged 4-5 years old are classified as being overweight or obese. This increases to 33.1% in Essex and 30% in Hertfordshire for 10–11-year-olds (2019-20 data).
  • Emergency hospital admissions for children aged under 18 years are significantly higher in East and North Hertfordshire and rates of A&E attendances are higher in West Essex for children aged under 5 years than the national average.
  • There are increasing numbers of children needing crisis intervention, with numbers of CLA and those needing mental health specialist hospital provision increasing.
Outcomes we want to achieve

We want parents to be able to say:

  • I can access appropriate services in my community and meet with other parents/carers and develop local support networks
  • I know who I can contact for professional advice and support if I have a concern about the physical, cognitive, and emotional health needs of my child
  • I know what I can do to help my child’s development and I am helped to understand and respond to any additional needs my child has


We want children and young people to be able to say:

  • I am safe, happy, and cared for in my home
  • I enjoy learning and have friends and opportunities to play and socialise
  • I am supported to be the best I can be


What will change

We will:

  • Work together to coordinate support, make every contact count and reduce duplication between services.
  • Prioritise early help and early intervention so that families are supported early or as needs emerge, working together with early years providers, schools, youth services, and collaboratively with communities and families.
  • Ensure children will achieve their best potential by the time they start school by working in partnership to remove barriers to early learning.
  • Work with the Voluntary Community Faith and Social Enterprise Sector (VCFSE) sector and other partners to ensure a joined-up approach to supporting children and their families. 
  • Ensure children’s physical and mental health have parity of esteem.
  • Jointly plan and develop family centres into family hubs, with a focus on commissioning of community based and locality provision, embedding the continuum of support across universal, early family help and targeted help.
  • Jointly plan and commission family help and family safeguarding, with multidisciplinary teams focused around community settings such as schools and family hubs, with services tailored to neighbourhood needs.
  • Jointly plan and deliver early help across the SEND system, so that children with additional needs and their families have the right support at the right time and before statutory assessment; with continued planning of early help for children with emotional wellbeing concerns including school mental health support and parental advice and guidance.