The guide focuses on the benefits that effective working between local authorities and early years development and childcare partnerships can bring to parents, children, families and the wider community.
It offers a practical checklist designed to help local authorities make the most of the wide ranging opportunities now available. These include the Neighbourhood Childcare Initiative, Early Excellence Centres, Sure Start, the Children's Fund and New Deal, as well as regeneration programmes such as the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and Single Regeneration Budget.
Rita Stringfellow, the LGA's executive chair for social affairs and health, said: 'The benefits of high quality early years education for the individual child are well documented. What is also very clear is that such services - if properly planned and coordinated - can bring sustainable benefits to families and to communities.
'Schemes such as Sure Start and others highlighted in the guide are not just about increasing the financial investment in services to support families with young children, important though that is. They also reflect an increasing emphasis by both local authorities and the government on taking an integrated approach to planning such services.
'By focusing on the early learning goals of young children, early years education helps those children to maximise their potential through their school years, and thus plays an important role in raising the life chances of children from disadvantaged families.
'Childcare and early years education also play a wider role in tackling disadvantage, through the opportunities they open up for parents to work or undertake training; through the support they provide for families experiencing difficulties; and through their role in helping families to feel less isolated in the community.
'Local authorities, working with Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships, are playing an increasingly important role in coordinating services and maximising the opportunities available to parents.'
The guide, Childcare and early education - investing in all our futures, is published jointly by the Local Government Association and the department for education and skills in partnership with the Daycare Trust.
A summary of the guide is attached. The full document is available from DfES Publications, PO Box 5050, Sherwood Park, Annesley, Nottingham NG15 0DJ; tel 0845 6022260; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Ref: EYDCP/LGA Rep 1
Childcare and early education - investing in all our futures
Local authorities, working through Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships, are responsible for developing high quality affordable early education and childcare for all families and children who need the provision.
This guide explains why childcare and early education is a key priority for local authorities and how they can benefit from working with Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships to make the most of the opportunities presented by the National Childcare Strategy and, in turn, benefit the whole community.
Childcare and early education services help local authorities deliver key strategic targets for employment, tackling disadvantage, and education. Childcare enables parents to work or train, contributing directly to local prosperity and regeneration strategies
High quality early education and childcare are key strands in community regeneration strategies to increase access to employment, tackle child poverty, and encourage social inclusion
Increased access to more affordable, high quality childcare and early years education provides significant benefits for children, parents and communities
Research evidence shows childcare and early education benefit children by supporting their achievements at school and combating disadvantage
Local authorities are key players in accessing and coordinating available funds to extend early education and childcare opportunities
Local authorities are well placed to maximise results by ensuring effective coordination of consultation, planning and implementation of new initiatives
Local authorities that encourage and win commitment from elected members and senior officers make the most of the funding opportunities available for childcare and early education
Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships are the local agencies responsible for channelling increased investment, via the local authority, into childcare and early education
New places for almost 700,000 children have been created already, and by 2004 Partnerships will be coordinating the delivery of places for a million extra children, and universal early education for all three and four year olds