Sure 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.
Naomi Eistenstadt, director of the Sure Start
unit, told delegates from Sure Start projects around the country
that failure was “not an option”.
She was speaking in London as the £1.4bn
initiative for under-fives is about to be integrated into
mainstream services in seven pilot areas. Birmingham, Manchester,
Leicester, Sunderland, North Tyneside, Southampton and Rochdale
have been given a total of £10m to take part in a two-year
pilot. Bradford and Leeds are expected to gain approval for their
mainstreaming plans in the next few months.
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.”
The pilots will cover a range of activities
including training parents to be part of home visiting teams to
support other parents. According to initial research carried out
into implementation of Sure Start, parent involvement is high.
Unveiling the findings, which were based on data from 118 of the
126 programmes, Professor Jane Tunstill said 99 per cent had parent
But housing and regeneration minister Lord
Falconer, when asked whether he could guarantee more money for
mainstreaming in all areas if the pilots are a success, said he