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SURE START CENTRES FAIL TO REACH NEEDY FAMILIES, SAYS STUDY

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More than half of councils running Sure Start children's centres have not monitored their centre's performance or c...
More than half of councils running Sure Start children's centres have not monitored their centre's performance or checked costs, according to a report from the National Audit Office.

The NAO study, published today, says Sure Start centres are failing to help the families that need them most.

The most disadvantaged families, such as those with teenage mothers or disabled children, are the least likely to visit centres, so services must be taken to them, the NAO says. But only nine out of the 30 centres visited by NAO had identified which households most needed services for pre-school children and actively tried to reach them.

Children's minister Beverley Hughes said:

'We have made unprecedented investment in services for small children. Children's centres represent an entirely new way of delivering public services and play a crucial role in our efforts to give children the best start in life and eradicate child poverty.

'Implementing such radical change presents challenges and whilst we celebrate the achievement so far, this report helps to focus us on our own findings about what more needs to be done.'

Children's charity NCH, which is the largest voluntary sector provider of Sure Start children's centres in England, said it was 'vital' that all providers take on board the report's recommendations and 'continue to strive for innovative ways to reach the families in most need, and change the lives of these children for the better'.

Executive summary

Full report

Children & adult

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