The Government in England has recognized the importance of early intervention to promote positive child development and prevent maltreatment. In doing so, efforts have been made to increase the implementation of the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) to target a greater number of families who require intensive secondary intervention.Methods
This paper presents an argument that the FNP can be targeted more effectively to yield a greater return on investment. This is based on the re-analysis of data collected by the largest cohort study carried out into risk factors for child maltreatment in England.Results
Currently, around 315 health visitors are estimated to be implementing this programme, projected to increase to around 585 health visitors in 2015. However, targeting the programme towards first-time, young vulnerable mothers with low socio-economic status means that around 1350 health visitors would be needed. Critically, targeting only this population is estimated to prevent only 10% of cases of child abuse and neglect.Conclusions
By targeting risk factors which are less common in the general population but which are more prevalent amongst abusive families, fewer specialist health visitors would be needed to prevent a higher percentage of child maltreatment.