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Sure Start Children's Centres

Volume 454: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the ability of Sure Start children's centres to engage with black and minority ethnic parents. (105498)

We have learned a great deal from the National Evaluation of Sure Start (NESS)1 on the engagement of black and minority ethnic groups. However, we do not routinely collect data at a national level on the participation of black and ethnic minority families in local Sure Start children's centres.

Some Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) have evaluated their services in relation to black and minority ethnic groups. In March 2006 NESS published a report which brought together information from these local evaluations. This report is available on the NESS website at the following address:

DfES will be publishing a further NESS report exploring the relationship between ethnicity and delivery, management, participation and receipt of services in SSLPs in spring 2007. A further report from a longitudinal study on the impact of SSLPs on children and families, including black and ethnic minority families, is due to be published early in 2008.

On 30 November 2006 we issued guidance to local authorities on performance management arrangements that will help them evaluate the services that Sure Start children's centres provide and make sure that they are responsive to the most disadvantaged groups. The guidance identifies black and ethnic minority families as one of the priority groups. We also issued revised practice guidance for Sure Start children's centres which includes evidence of effective ways of engaging with those families who are at risk of social exclusion and information on methods that have been found to work with specific groups.

1 The National Evaluation of Sure Start (NESS) is a study of the effectiveness of Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs). SSLPs are early pioneers of the Sure Start children's centres approach. All SSLPs are now mainstreamed into the overarching children's centre programme.