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Sure Start

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many relevant children there are in each of the Birkenhead Sure Start areas; and how many of these children have been contacted by Sure Start. [129170]

The three Sure Start local programmes in Birkenhead were developed and approved on different timescales. This is reflected in their level of activity and the number of children they are reaching.Sure Start Birkenhead North was approved in August 2000 and has reported that since then it has contacted over 95 per cent. of the 648 children living in the area. Sure Start Ferries was approved in January 2002 and has estimated that it has to date contacted over 74 per cent. of the 741 children living in the area. Sure

Start Birkenhead Central was approved in January 2003 and has so far contacted 33 per cent. of the 868 children living in the area.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the benefits of the Sure Start Scheme. [130383]

A large scale, comprehensive evaluation of the Sure Start programme is under way. This will establish what works to improve outcomes for young children and their families, in the short, medium and long term.By its nature many of the benefits of Sure Start will be long term: so the evaluation is tracking 8,000 children over time—initially at nine months, three years and five years—and then beyond. The first information will be available by spring 2004.The evaluation is also examining how the programme is being implemented. To date assessments have been published on Setting Up Sure Start, Early Experiences of Implementing Sure Start. Characteristics of Sure Start Areas and Fathers in Sure Start Areas. These assessments show that many of the necessary building blocks for successful Sure Start programmes, such as joint working and involvement of parents in planning and delivering services, are being put in place.These publications and further information about the National Evaluation can be found at www surestart gov uk/ensuringquality/research/local programmeevaluation/

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many Sure Start schemes there are in the north east; and what their total cost has been. [130384]

A total of 63 Sure Start Local Programmes have been approved in the north east of England. To date we have given approval for over £33.2 million capital and paid just over £46.1 million in revenue for Sure Start Local Programmes in the North East of England to help reach 238,000 0 to 3-years-old children. Some of the programmes have started delivering full Sure Start services for parents and families in their area and others are at various stages of delivery.