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News | Published June 08 2019

Sure Start is effective, experts conclude

Earlier this week, the Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded Sure Start centres are effective at improving health outcomes for children.

Sure Start is an early years intervention programme aimed at improving long-term education and health outcomes for children in disadvantages areas.

It was an initiative launched in 1999 by the Blair government, but has since then faced cuts.

Many local authorities are claiming that councils across the board are struggling to continue to scheme as they face "ever tightening budgets".

This new IFS research showed that the scheme brought "big benefits" for children's health, prompting a reevaluation of government policy.

More specifically, the study revealed that every one Sure Start centre per 1,000 children resulted in 5,000 fewer hospital visits among 11-year-olds.

BHT Early Education, a Bradford-based registered charity for children, is among those who say that Sure Start was beneficial for disadvantaged communities.

Chief Executive of BHT Early Education, Sonia Smith, said: "We have seen first-hand in Bradford what the impact of local authority cuts on Sure Start Children’s Centres have had on young children from disadvantaged communities.

"Much more investment is needed in early years, as research shows this is the most important time in a child’s life, when the brain is developing.

"In Bradford, with the loss of funding, the local authority is out for consultation on the delivery sites of services going forward.

"Cuts to staff and delivery of services started a few years ago, and now children’s centres no longer exist in the format they were set up in; they are now 0-19 Family Hubs (25 if SEND), with diminished early years trained staff, while also spread across the district as four hubs."

Authored by

Thomas Wilson
Political Editor
@theparlreview
June 08 2019

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