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Sure Start Programme

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 24 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how many and what proportion of (a) children and (b) families (i) who are black and minority ethnic, (ii) with English as an additional language, (iii) with special needs and disabilities and (iv) with a lone parent (A) have been provided with information on and (B) are accessing Sure Start programmes and services; what assessment has been made of the effectiveness of those programmes and services; and if he will make a statement; (180988)

(2) what the capacity of provision for child care through Sure Start programmes was in each of the last five years; how many and what proportion of (a) families and (b) children (i) received information on and (ii) accessed this provision over this period; what average proportion of capacity was used over that period; and if he will make a statement.

All Sure Start Children’s Centres provide information and advice to parents and carers on a range of subjects including local child care and education services for three and four-year-olds. Centres serving the most disadvantaged communities in England must provide integrated early learning and full daycare as part of their core services while centres serving less disadvantaged communities may provide integrated early learning and daycare places where local demand is not being met by existing, good quality providers. The information requested about different groups of families receiving information and taking up services, including integrated early learning and daycare, is not collected centrally by my Department. Data on the capacity of provision for child care through Sure Start programmes in the last five years are not collected centrally.

The ongoing National Evaluation of Sure Start (NESS) produced initial findings on the impact of the early Sure Start Local Programmes in November 2005. These gave a very early indication that Sure Start is succeeding in making a difference to a large number of parents and children and is doing particularly well in affecting parenting practices. Because we know that some Sure Start Children’s Centres have more work to do to reach the most disadvantaged families from April this year we have committed additional resources which will enable local authorities to fund two more outreach workers in centres serving the most disadvantaged communities.