Toddlers with speech and language problems are set to get help earlier in life as a way of preventing them becoming adult criminals.
A leading councillor has agreed to award a new £22 million contract for health visitors and school nurses in Milton Keynes over the next five years.
“This is one of our most important services for public health,” said Cllr Hannah O’Neill (Lab, Woughton & Fishermead) at a delegated decisions meeting on Tuesday (Nov 26). “Because it is dealing with the youngest members of our society.”
She said health visitors would be checking on how children aged two-and-a-half were progressing with their speech and language and offering help if it was an issue.
Cllr O’Neill, who also chairs the Safer MK Partnership, said reports to that committee had identified a link between young offenders and speech and language difficulties.
She said the service, which she used as a mum herself only recently, would also be giving support around breastfeeding, and in perinatal mental health support.
“I am really excited to see this programme in action,” she added. It includes school nurses working for ages up to 19 years.
The name of the winning company has not yet been revealed as Cllr O’Neill’s decision is subject to a call in period. It is due to start next April at the end of the current contract and could have a total value of £40 million if it is extended for another four years.
The winning company will also be able to get performance bonuses if it hits agreed targets.