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'A SURE START FOR EVERY CHILD'

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Children and families are to benefit from a joined up approach to...
Children and families are to benefit from a joined up approach to

childcare, early years education and family and health support,

secretary of state for education and skills Charles Clarke said

today.

Mr Clarke was joined by Paul Boateng, chief secretary to the

Treasury, Andrew Smith, secretary of state for work and pensions and

health minister David Lammy to launch the new Sure Start unit. The

new unit will transform childcare, early years education and family

and health support services with a budget of over£1.5bn by 2005-06.

Sure Start, a cross-departmental unit, is headed by Sure Start

minister Catherine Ashton. Naomi Eisenstadt is the director of the

Sure Start Unit, which will support families from pregnancy until

children are 14 by:

- helping families access flexible childcare, early learning and

family and health support, where possible through a single point of

contact, by establishing guiding principles for providers which draw

on best practice;

- enabling local authorities to deliver more integrated high quality

services by reducing bureaucracy and simplifying funding routes; and

- delivering more integrated childcare, early years and family

support policy which builds on the success of local Sure Start

programmes, early education and the national childcare strategy. All

three year olds are to get a free nursery education place in their

area by April 2004, six months earlier than originally planned, as a

result of increased funding to local education authorities.

Charles Clarke, education secretary said:

'Having a strong early start is vital to continued education success.

The new Sure Start will deliver more integrated policy to enable

parents to access affordable good quality childcare, early years

education and family support.

'Sure Start will help local authorities provide joined up services to

ensure that every child receives the best start in life, with

targeted support directed at areas where it is most needed. This

transformation of children and family support services is matched

with a massive investment of over£1.5bn by 2005-06.'

Paul Boateng said:

'Sure Start's budget will rise to£1.5bn by 2005-06 and within this,

funding for childcare will more than double between 2002-3 and

2005-6. With this investment, we are loud and clear about our

commitment to improve children's life chances and half child poverty

by 2010.'

Andrew Smith said:

'Families with children want good quality services that are

accessible and flexible. This is what Sure Start is about. With its

joined up approach to childcare, early years and family and health

support services, Sure Start is a step forward to meeting our

commitment to halving child poverty by 2010.'

Notes:

1. The new Sure Start Unit was launched by secretary of state for

education and skills Charles Clarke and secretary of state for work

and pensions Andrew Smith at the National Sure Start conference on

11 December at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre. Also

speaking at the conference were: chief secretary to the Treasury Paul

Boateng, health minister David Lammy and Sure Start minister

Catherine Ashton.

2. Naomi Eisenstadt has been appointed as director of the Sure Start

Unit. This appointment follows on from her role as acting director of

the Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare Unit.

3. The Sure Start unit works with local authorities, local

communities, and voluntary and private sector organisations. It aims

to ensure delivery of early education for all three- and four-year-

olds, childcare and after school activities in every area, and

children's and family support in disadvantaged areas where they are

most needed. It works with parents to build aspirations for

employment and for their children's education.

4. Sure Start will support families from pregnancy until children are

14 years old or 16, including those with SEN and for those with

disabilities up to 16 when they have special educational needs. The

guiding principles for all Sure Start provision are attached.

5. The new Sure Start for all children builds on the success of local

Sure Start programmes, which will have helped 400,000 children living

in disadvantaged areas by 2004; the early years programme which will

have provided all three and four years olds with a free nursery

education place by April 2004; and the National Childcare Strategy to

offer all children a sure start in life.

6.£319m of Nursery Education Grant will be transferred into Education

Formula Spending for 2003-04,£42m more than the amount of funding to

be distributed for three year olds in 2002-03 through a specific grant.

7. The increase in funding for under 5s will provide adequate funding

to achieve nursery provision for all three and four years olds for

all local authorities by April 2004, six months earlier than the

manifesto commitment. A statutory duty will be placed on local

education authorities to secure sufficient education provision for

all three years olds in their area by April 2004. A free place

consists of five sessions of early education per week, for eleven

weeks per term, for three terms. Each session must be at least 2.5

hours in length. Since, September 1998, all four years olds have had

access to a free nursery place if their parents want it.

Details of local information service and factsheets on childcare

options are available from ChildcareLink freephone 08000 96 02 96 or

childcarelink@opp-links.org.uk

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