All Sure Start children’s centres must visit every parent of a newborn baby in their area from next month, the children’s minister has pledged.
Announcing that the children’s centre roll-out programme was ahead of schedule, with 1,000 centres now open serving 800,000 children, Beverley Hughes said she wanted to make sure families who were uncomfortable walking through the door received the support they needed too.
To achieve this, Hughes set out a new requirement for every children’s centre to run a home visiting service and outreach programme for the parents of all new babies. They will also all be required to evaluate the services they provide to make sure they are meeting the needs of the most disadvantaged groups.
However, child care charity the Daycare Trust warned that there was still much to be done to meet the agenda set out in the government’s 10-year childcare strategy, which promised 3,500 children’s centres by 2010 providing access for all families.
It called on all political parties to commit the financial resources needed to implement the strategy and to increase funding to help subsidise the cost of child care places.
“Even once the strategy is complete, the cost of child care may still keep high quality provision out of reach for many families, particularly those on a low income,” explained Daycare Trust joint chief executive Alison Garnham.
“All political parties need now to declare their financial and political commitment to this essential infrastructure without which parents truly have little choice about how to manage work and family life.”