A rapid review of key strategies to improve the cognitive and social development of children in Scotland
Objectives Inequalities in health and educational outcomes in Scotland show a strong and persistent socioeconomic status gradient. Our aims were to provide policy-makers with a synthesis of international research evidence that assesses the effectiveness of early childhood interventions aimed at equitably promoting cognitive and social development and suggest potential areas for action in Scotland.Methods A rapid review was conducted of review level studies of early childhood interventions with outcome measures relating to child cognitive-language or social-emotional development, subsequent academic and life achievement. Websites were searched and interviews were conducted to identify relevant interventions, policies and programmes delivered in Scotland.Results : Early childhood intervention programmes can reduce disadvantage due to social and environmental factors. Scottish health policy demonstrates a clear commitment to early childhood development but much work remains in terms of detail of policy implementation, identification of high risk children and families, and early childhood monitoring systems.Conclusions Programmes should provide a universal seamless continuum of care and support from pregnancy through to school entry with the intensity of support graded according to need. The current information systems in Scotland would be inadequate for monitoring the effects of early childhood interventions especially in relation to cognitive-language and social-emotional development.
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