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Early Years Intervention

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 17 July 2007

21. What steps he plans to take to promote early intervention in support of social exclusion policy; and if he will make a statement. (149814)

Early intervention is key to tackling social exclusion and is a guiding principle for the social exclusion action plan, which proposes a range of ways to offer help and support during a child’s early years, such as the family nurse partnership pilot schemes.

I welcome my hon. Friend to her new post. Could she tell the House what she is doing to ensure that the very successful Sure Start programmes reach out to the families who are most socially excluded but may well not attend a Sure Start centre, so that those parents and their children are supported and the children are given the best possible start in life?

My hon. Friend is correct to raise that point. I thank her for her kind comments to me in my new role. She is a tremendous supporter of Sure Start, which is indeed about making life better for children, families and communities. However, we know that we could do more. That is why I welcome the recently published families at risk review, which talks about how public services can be better organised so that we can better service the small but significant number of families whose problems cannot be dealt with in isolation. I look forward to my hon. Friend’s support in doing that.

Has the Minister had discussions with Ministers from the Department for Children, Schools and Families to see how resources can be channelled through schools that have been proactive in this respect, such as George Pindar community school in Eastfield, which is tackling the problem of social exclusion on a whole-family basis?

The school that the hon. Gentleman mentions is a clear example of the kind of good work that we want to see. I have heard the Department for Children, Schools and Families referred to as the “Every child matters” Department. That explains the importance of our work in ensuring that every child, no matter what their background or circumstances, will have support to be healthy and safe and to prosper. Schools are absolutely integral to that.