Early child and family support conference in Portugal (September 2025) by ISEI and Eurlyaid. An opportunity for an evolutionary leap forward. 1

Comment by Peter Limbrick


Conference: ADVANCING COMPREHENSIVE EARLY CHILDHOOD INTERVENTION - what parents, professionals, science, and national systems can tell us

This collaboration between International Society on Early Intervention and Eurlyaid has a massive potential to make progress in the evolution of early child and family support around the world. I understand the programme is not finalised so I humbly offer my suggestions for topics.

Firstly, I hope that the two northern-hemisphere organisations running the event (based in USA and Europe) will give appropriate space to systems, projects, speakers and delegates from parts of the southern hemisphere. There is much to be gained by a healthy and respectful two-way exchange of information between countries of higher and lower economies. We can all learn from each other.

Secondly, I hope there will be discussion of a necessary evolution in early child and family support from:

  1. support for the health, development and education of each child to -
  2. support for the child and family to -
  3. support for the child, family and professionals around the child and family.

The third stage in this evolution is essential because professionals need to be trained, supported and supervised for the close collaborative teamwork of multiagency, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary systems.

Thirdly, following from stage 3, I hope there will be discussion of the need for universities to prepare their graduates to work in these integrated systems. My experience shows that professionals in the early support workforce can be apprehensive and resistant to close and trusting collaboration with their colleagues. It is not reasonable to expect professionals to accept new work in integrated systems for which they have not been trained or prepared. This is further explained in: Thoughts following Michael Guralnick’s 2023 paper on design of early child and family support

Logically, any region or country establishing new early child and family support systems must plan for all three stages at the same time.

[Perhaps it is too obvious to suggest, but the majority of presentations, papers and discussions should be accessible to those parents and early support professionals who are not graduates.]


This Portugal conference is a wonderful opportunity to promote the evolution of early child and family support for children around the world

Your comments welcome.

See Part 2 here

Peter Limbrick, October 2023

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