SureStart Children’s Centres are places where children aged 0-5 years old and their families can receive seamless integrated services and information, and where they can access help from multi-disciplinary teams of professionals. The Government is committed to delivering a SureStart Children’s Centre for every community by 2010.
These Centres are at the heart of the Government’s strategy to deliver better outcomes for children and families, building on successes of SureStart local programmes, early excellence centres and neighbourhood nurseries and main streaming the lessons learned to extend the benefits to all families. They are also a vital part of the Government’s 10 year childcare strategy to enable all families with children to have access to an affordable, flexible, high quality childcare place for their child. Choice for parents, the best start for children: a ten year strategy for childcare (2004).
Local authorities have been given strategic responsibility for the delivery of children’s centres. They are planning the location and development of centres to meet the needs of local communities, in consultation with parents, the private, voluntary and independent sector, PCTs, JobCentre Plus and other key partners. The Government have contracted with a partnership of private sector and public sector organisations, called Together for Children, to provide delivery support on the ground for local authorities.
The SureStart Children’s Centre programme is based on the concept that providing integrated education, care, family support, health services and support with employment are key factors in determining good outcomes for children and their parents. The concept itself is not a new one, it is about building on existing good practice, rather than starting afresh. The model builds on principles developed, and lessons learned, through earlier SureStart funded settings which are expected to become children’s centres over the next year.
A significant number of families with young children already benefit from good quality integrated services. SureStart Children’s Centres enhance these services and extend the benefits to more families — bringing an integrated approach to service delivery to areas where it is most needed.
Most SureStart Children’s Centres will be developed from earlier SureStart funded settings and other existing providers including maintained nursery schools, primary schools and other local ‘early years’ provision including voluntary and private settings.