The early years is defined by Welsh Government as the period of life from pre-birth to the end of Foundation Phase or 0 to 7 years of age. These years are a crucial time for children. Children grow rapidly and both their physical and mental development is affected by the environment in which they find themselves in.
The first three years of life are particularly important for healthy development due to the fast rate of neurological growth that occurs during this period. There is an abundance of research showing that investing in the first years of a child’s life improves outcomes for them throughout the rest of their lives. A mentally healthy child is one with a clear sense of identity and self-worth, the ability to recognise and manage emotions, to learn to play, enjoy friendships and relationships, and deal with difficulties. A wide range of interrelated factors play a role, such as individual, family, wider society and environmental issues.
Coordinated interagency action at national and local level is required to improve the health of children and young people and its determinants. Working with children and families is essential to build on assets and address needs.