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NEW SERVICE TO HELP PARENTS FIND CHILDCARE

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A new project designed to develop local childcare services has been ...
A new project designed to develop local childcare services has been

announced by department for education and employment and

department of social security ministers.

Local early years development and childcare partnerships will have

access to a nationally developed internet-linked children's

information service. Partnerships which choose to take part will be

provided with computer systems and support to develop a database of

local childcare services, building on the lone parent information

system developed by the department of social security.

Margaret Hodge, employment and equal opportunities minister, said:

'Good quality, affordable childcare is vital to working mums and

dads. But parents need to identify what childcare is available and

where. In our Green Paper 'Meeting the Childcare Challenge' we said

that we wanted all areas to provide local information networks. Many

people suggested the government should help set these up. We have

listened to what they said and this project is the result.

'The money will kick-start local childcare information services. It

will provide childcare partnerships with a modern, tried and tested

system that can be tailored to meet local needs.

'This initiative, combined with the£341m we are putting into

the National Childcare Strategy and the£540m Surestart

programme, demonstrates that we are building a solid, lasting,

national childcare strategy.'

Alistair Darling said:

'We know that childcare needs can be a major barrier to work. Parents

worry about finding good quality, affordable childcare. By using the

opportunities offered by internet technology this project will to

plug the childcare information gap. It will be especially helpful to

advisers in the 'New Deal for Lone Parents' in their work to provide

childcare solutions to to help lone parents to work.

'This is a good example of working across traditional boundaries in

government - local and central - to develop practical solutions'.

NOTES

1. Early years development and childcare partnerships have been

invited to put forward initial expressions of interest by

mid-December. The project will start in April in areas where the

plans have been approved. A series of conferences will take place in

early December to discuss the project with local partnerships

2. The project is jointly funded by DfEE and DSS. It will be overseen

by the Information Technology Services Agency (a DSS executive

agency) which developed the Lone Parent Information System.

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