A Better Start

A Better Start

A Better Start

Improving the life chances of children aged 0-3

A Better Start is a 10 year, £215 million National Lottery funded programme focused on promoting good early childhood development. The programme funds local partnerships in five areas across England to test new ways of making support and services for families stronger, so that children can have the best start in life.

Aims & approach

Its aim

A Better Start aims to improve the life chances of babies and very young children by changing the way services are commissioned and delivered, involving parents as equal partners.

What it is

A Better Start is the ten-year (2015-2025), £215 million programme set-up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Five A Better Start partnerships 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. Involving 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.

A Better Start is place-based and aims to create approaches, relationships and services which better support people and communities to thrive.

Its outcomes

  1. Improving children’s diet and nutrition to support healthy physical development and protect against illness in later life.
  2. Supporting children to develop social and emotional skills so they can develop positive relationships and cope with difficult situations.
  3. Helping children develop their language and communication skills, so that they can engage with the world around them.
  4. Bring about ‘systems change’; that is to change, for the better, the way that local health, public services and the voluntary and community sector work together with parents to improve outcomes for children.


Over the lifetime of the programme, our five partners will learn what works, and what doesn’t in improving outcomes for children living in their local areas.

We also want learning from the programme to be useful to other people in similar fields of work so that many more children can benefit.

Our latest programme ‘insight’ report responding to COVID-19 highlights how the pandemic is affecting young children and their families and will share insights from A Better Start partnerships as they work to understand the impact, and respond to emerging needs.

Our previous programme ‘insight’ report, A Better Start through Better Systems, highlights contemporary approaches to effective systems change and includes case studies from across the five A Better Start partnerships.

Written in February 2020, A Better Start: Five Years of Learning celebrates the achievements of the A Better Start partnerships as they completed their first five years, drawing on the voices of practitioners and members of local communities to highlight their impact.

Read A Better Start Programme Briefing (PDF, 800KB) for learnings from the first three years of the programme.


A Better Start is an evidence-based programme that is testing and learning about how to improve child outcomes. Evaluation evidence from A Better Start can be accessed here.

Our responses to government

Science and Technology select committee – Evidence-bases early years interventions (PDF, 198KB)

Education select committee – Life Chances (PDF, 225KB)

Health and Social care select committee – First 1,000 Days of Life (PDF, 115KB)


Read updates from across the A Better Start programme sharing our experiences as we develop innovative ways to give babies and very young children the best possible start in life

You can read more in our collection of A Better Start publications.

Sign-up to receive updates from the A Better Start ‘Shared Learning’ programme


From 2015 to 2025, our five programme partnerships will design, implement, deliver and test ways to support babies and very young children and their families in their local community.

  • Blackpool Better Start

    Blackpool Better Start

    Blackpool Better Start’s strategy focuses on reducing critical pressures on families, like drugs and alcohol, mental ill health, domestic abuse and social isolation to build better parenting knowledge and skills. Visit website
  • Better Start Bradford

    Better Start Bradford

    A Better Start Bradford works with the community, public agencies and local academics to offer services and support - provided by trained volunteers and a skilled workforce - in people’s homes and in the community. Visit website
  • Lambeth Early Action Partnership

    Lambeth Early Action Partnership

    Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP) delivers a range of services - co-designed with the community and local partners - for parents and early years professionals and practitioners, to support children, families and the wider community. The development of these services has been underpinned by a public health approach, meaning that they are supporting individual children and families as well as their wider environment. Visit website
  • Small Steps Big Changes

    Small Steps Big Changes

    Driven by local parents and communities, Small Steps Big Changes puts parents and communities at the centre of design, commissioning and decision-making services for children in Nottingham. Visit website
  • A Better Start Southend

    A Better Start Southend

    A Better Start Southend brings together professional and volunteer workers with parents and carers of children, up to the age of four, to transform the way that children’s services are delivered. Visit website