Paving the Way

This page provides details of a CBF-led three-year project on early intervention called Paving the Way.

Children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge need the right support early in childhood.  Early intervention using methods such as Positive Behaviour Support can reduce the severity and frequency of challenging behaviour and improve quality of life.

The right support provided locally, at the right time, and delivered in partnership with families can also avoid the high costs of crisis intervention.

The CBF led a three-year project on early intervention called Paving the Way.

Paving the Way: The Early Intervention Project

This three-year project was funded by the Department of Health and was delivered in partnership by the Challenging Behaviour Foundation (The CBF) and the Council for Disabled Children (CDC). The project did not deliver early intervention itself; the aim was to facilitate improved early intervention across the country.

The project delivered a range of useful resources.  The Paving the Way report summarises the findings.

View: PAVING THE WAY report

The project influenced national reports and guidance, including:

  • The NICE guidance  covers interventions and support for children, young people and adults with a learning disability whose behaviours challenge. The guidance focuses on the assessments into behaviour that challenges, so we can understand the behaviour and “improve their quality of life” through early interventions.
  • A review by Dame Christine Lenehan Director of CDC which published in 2017 highlights the issues facing children with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour and provides recommendations.
  • NHSE published guidance in 2018 on health services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability.
  • It has also led to innovative local early intervention work, for example in Cumbria and partnership work with researchers, for example Warwick University and the Tizard Centre.


We are grateful to a group of key academics who worked to pull together the data and research evidence into a briefing paper.

A data supplement was also produced, providing a thorough overview of the statistics behind the key messages of the briefing paper.

View: Early intervention for children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge

View: Children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge

Furthermore, an estimate of the number of children in England with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge has been made.

Each of these papers was the first of their kind in the field of early intervention for children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge. Together, they form a strong case for better early intervention.

Families’ Vision and Workshops

We ran seven workshops during the project to gather views from family carers, professionals, staff, commissioners, providers and members of the Challenging Behaviour National Strategy group. There was a huge amount of agreement about what good early intervention should look like.  The graphic below (illustrated by Pen Mendonca) shows the vision of early intervention developed with 27 family carers. There is appetite for change among professionals and commissioners in many areas of the country, and they need more information and support to help them work with families to get it right from the start.

To see a summary of each workshop please click the links below:

Workshop 1: Experts for driving change

Workshop 2: Family carers (relatives aged 0-18)

Workshop 3:  Family carers (relatives at transition age)

Workshop 4: Professionals and staff – Key messages and – Scenarios and alternatives

Workshop 5: Commissioners and service providers

Workshop 6 and  7: Experts for driving change


The project was independently evaluated to see if it achieved its intended aims and objectives, review the quality and effectiveness of the deliverables, and see if the project made a difference. 

The Early Intervention Project (EIP) was aiming to facilitate improved early intervention across the country to improve the quality of life and outcomes experienced by children with learning disabilities whose behaviour challenges.

Read the overall evaluation of the Early Intervention Project

A pathway for children

Building the Right Support (NHS England et al., 2015) sets out a national plan to develop community services and close inpatient facilities for people with a learning disability and/or autism who display behaviour that challenges. The plan covers children and young people as well as adults. It includes a new service model of local support arrangements to prevent admission.

‘A Pathway for Children’ is a set of three resources that were commissioned and funded by the NHS England Transforming Care Programme. These resources have been developed by the CBF and NDTi. They draw on previous research, guidance and best practice and were informed by visits to four local areas. We are grateful to the members of the steering group who have overseen this project and to all the children and young people, family carers, professionals and commissioners in the four local areas who participated in our focus groups and interviews.

The resources are:
An explanatory note: Why we need local pathways
Developing local pathways – Legal duties and guidance
Tools to develop local pathways

Poster and leaflet for professionals

During our Paving the Way project, many families said to us “We knew there was a problem when our child was really young, but we did not know who to go to for help.”

To help professionals and families get the support they need we designed a poster and leaflet. We hope schools, pre-schools, child development centres, hospitals, GP surgeries and other health settings, short breaks providers, and any other children’s service providers will download, print and display these resources, which should include details of the support available locally for children with learning disabilities whose behaviour challenge.

Image showing A3 CBF poster for professionals: Is your child's behaviour challenging you?Simple A3 poster

Download and colour print on A3 paper as a tool to signpost families to a local team who can support them and to our website to find out more.

Download the poster

Folded A4 leaflet

A leaflet suitable for all frontline professionals and staff (including GPs, nurses, teachers, SENCOs, care and support staff, health professionals and social workers) to raise awareness of challenging behaviour and appropriate responses and to signpost them to more information. Download and colour print the leaflet on A4 paper, double-sided, and then fold into three using a tri-fold as shown in the diagram below.

Image showing side 1 of leaflet - When children's behaviour challengesImage showing side 2 of leaflet - When children's behaviour challengesImage of how to do a tri-fold


Download the leaflet

Project updates

We have established an email reference group of those interested in the project. We will keep you updated via email, seek your views and input from time-to-time and inform you of future activities and resources. If you are interested in becoming a member please email or complete the short form below:


I'd like to receive Paving the Way project updates

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Early intervention

Early intervention

The CBF has produced various information resources showing how early intervention using methods, such as Positive Behaviour Support, can reduce the severity and frequency of challenging behaviour and improve quality of life.

Projects and research

Projects and research

Details of the CBF's projects and research work, including research around early intervention