Why are we doing this?
Social action is ideally placed to play an instrumental role is helping more parents and carers support young children to achieve developmental milestones.
Parents and primary carers are first educators, and the knowledge and confidence they have to support their children’s development can make a marked impact.
The evidence shows that the quality of the home learning environment is more important for intellectual and social development than parental occupation, education or income. In short, what parents do at home is more important than who your parents are. These effects are long-lasting - a high-quality early home learning environment has a continued positive effect through to GCSE and overall A-level attainment.
Supporting parents is especially relevant now. Despite a positive trend over time, over 30 per cent of children did not reach a good level of development at the end of the early years foundation stage according to the most recent profile results.
Parent-centered interventions are especially effective in supporting achievement of developmental goals, and our previous portfolio of work suggests that social action focusing on supporting parents is ideally placed to make an impact.
Given the above, the Early Years Social Action Fund is looking to support organisations that are currently making an impact, but that require support to scale up. This fund will back projects that can grow - for example, to new geographies, or through new partnerships etc - and reach many more people, and mobilise many more (at least 250) volunteers.
Having supported dozens of social action programmes to scale, we have seen that social action works best when there is a clear role to complement, not replace public services, where opportunities fit in and around people’s lives and where any skills needed can be codified and learnt by many.
What are we doing?
The £1 million Early Years Social Action Fund aims to help more children aged four and underachieve their developmental milestones through social action.
A partnership between Nesta and the Office for Civil Society, the fund will back projects where social action builds the confidence and knowledge of parents and primary carers to support their children to achieve their developmental milestones ahead of their fifth birthday.
The fund will provide four to six grants of between £150,000 and £250,000 - and will include significant non-financial support - to help grow the impact and reach of the best innovations, based in England.
Innovations must show clear evidence of improving achievement of children’s developmental milestones and should focus on supporting families in need. Innovations must also demonstrate that they need support to scale their work, using social action, to new areas in England.
Specifically, where this fund is concerned, social action will include both formal and informal forms of giving and volunteering, as well as forms of digital giving.
We are especially interested in supporting social action through:
1. Mentoring models to skill up parents and primary carers so more children reach developmental milestones.
2. Peer to peer models to skill up parents and primary carers so more children reach developmental milestones.
3. Models which mobilise digital technologies to increase awareness of key skills (language, physical movement) and increase their practice in the home (again with the objective of more children reaching developmental milestones)
The focus of this fund is on supporting social action that will build the confidence and knowledge of parents, recognising the critical role parents and primary carers play in children’s development.
The deadline for applications has now passed.
We invited eligible projects based in England to submit a short expression of interest (EOI) by 29 March.
We are looking to support innovative programmes that:
- Show clear evidence of impact in improving developmental milestones for children aged 0-4, particularly through improving parents and carers knowledge and confidence.
- Focus on reaching many more parents and carers with children aged 0-4, especially from families who are most in need. Scaling could be achieved through replication, organisational growth, licensing models or through partnership.
- Have ambitious volunteer recruitment targets, including mobilising at least 250 volunteers who will likely give at least 10 hours a month.
- Demonstrate capacity to deliver in the timeline of the fund (July 2017 to Dec 2018).
- Include match funding (including in-kind) of at least 33 percent.
- Already made connections or have a pipeline of leads in the local areas in which they wish to scale.
- Will focus social action on building parents' confidence and skill in helping children achieve developmental milestones.
- Have a clear plan for scale and sustainability beyond the lifetime of the fund.
- Existing organisations operating their proven model in England who want to scale up to expand the approach to new areas or population groups, or;
- Organisations in England who want to import a proven model from overseas and replicate it in England, supporting many more children to thrive.
Following an assessment of the EOIs, we will invite the best to submit a full application. Nesta will work with applications to co-develop these, including rigorous assessment by an independent advisory panel.