Sure Start workers told to seize the opportunity to influence childcare policies

Start presents an opportunity that must be seized to influence the way
children’s policies are developed over the next 30 to 40 years, a conference
heard this week, writes Sally Gillen.

Eistenstadt, director of the Sure Start unit, told delegates from Sure Start
projects around the country that failure was "not an option" and that
the scheme must be made to succeed.

was speaking in London as the £1.4bn initiative for under-fives is about to be
mainstreamed in seven pilot areas. Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester,
Sunderland, North Tyneside, Southampton and Rochdale have been given a total of
£10m funding to take part in a two-year pilot. From next month each area will
extend its Sure Start projects beyond current boundaries.

and Leeds are expected to gain approval for their mainstreaming plans in the
next few months.

earlier, junior minister for Early Years and School Standards Cathy Ashton    said: “We want Sure Start to set an
example to the provision of children’s services generally. We want them to
adopt the methods of Sure Start, to absorb the new culture.”

pilots will cover a range of activities including training parents to be part
of home-visiting teams to support other parents.

to initial research carried out into implementation of the Sure Start, parent
involvement in high. Unveiling the findings, which were based on data from 118
of the 126 programmes, researcher Jane Tunstill said around 99 per cent had
parent representation.

questioned by delegates over whether he could guarantee more money for  mainstreaming in all areas if the pilots are
a success, housing and regeneration minister Lord Falconer said he could not.

Eistenstadt said she was hopeful that the Department of Health would issue
guidance on information sharing. Health agencies, which hold details on every
child under five, were sometimes overly cautious about passing them on, making
it difficult for Sure Start workers to locate all the children they were meant
to serve.


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