Skip to content

Start for Life Evaluation – Pathways Study

The Start for Life evaluation is being carried out by a consortium which includes the University of Oxford, Anna Freud, University College London, Ecorys and University of Cambridge.

The Start for Life Evaluation is funded by the National Institute of Health and Care Research and commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care.

We are evaluating the Start for Life programme nationally, and doing some more in-depth research in a small number of Local Authorities. Part of the evaluation is called the PATHWAYS (Parent-infant experiences Across Time: Health, Well-being, And Support) study. In this study, we will be speaking with parents and carers who are expecting or have a baby under 2. Participants will have a chance to give their voice about their needs and experiences of support during the critical 1001 days. They will also be given e-vouchers as a thank you for their time.

The critical 1,001 days, from pregnancy to age 2, are crucial for a child's lifelong development. In response to challenges families may face during this period, the PATHWAYS study, part of the national Start for Life Evaluation, delves into parent-infant experiences over time.

PATHWAYS: Parent-infant experiences Across Time: Health, Well-being, and Support, is spearheaded by the Anna Freud team. Families have two ways to contribute:

  1. Family Experience Interviews:

    • Conversations at various stages, exploring needs and experiences.

    • Some families may participate in multiple interviews and case studies, while others join once.

  2. Parent and Carer Survey:

    • Anonymous survey gathering insights from up to 1200 parents and carers.

    • Participants receive a voucher as a token of appreciation.

This evaluation, led by Dr. Michelle Sleed, ensures direct input from families, influencing policy and practice recommendations for England. We collaborate closely with government policymakers, Health and Social Care, and Local Authorities.

Meet our dedicated team

  • Lorna Crossan: Parent Participation Programme Assistant, Anna Freud

  • Prof. Jess Deighton: Director, Applied Research and Evaluation Division / Prof. in Child Mental Health, Anna Freud / UCL

  • Prof. Julian Edbrooke-Childs: Director, Evidence-Based Practice Unit / Prof. in Evidence-Based Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Anna Freud / UCL

  • Guilherme Fiorini: Research Officer / PhD Student, Anna Freud / UCL

  • Rachel McGuire: Research Officer, Anna Freud

  • Skye Reynolds: Parent Participation Programme Assistant, Anna Freud

  • Nicole Edwards: Research Officer, Anna Freud

  • Dr. Michelle Sleed: Senior Research Fellow / Deputy Programme Director, Anna Freud / UCL

  • Paula Zahn: Research Officer, Anna Freud

If you would like to learn more, please email