Minister urges councils to take responsibility for childcare services

Baroness Cathy Ashton, minister for Sure Start, early years and
childcare, has called for local authorities to get more involved
with shaping childcare services locally, writes Derren

Speaking at The Daycare Trust’s annual conference, Ashton
said local authorities must play a bigger part in developing local
partnerships around childcare, Sure Start and early years
development initiatives.

Ashton’s statement follows last week’s publication of the
government’s cross-departmental review of childcare services,
which outlined plans for local authorities to take ownership of the
flagship Sure Start programme with council chief executives taking
over strategic responsibility.

The review also signalled the government’s intention for a
range of childcare initiatives such as Sure Start, childcare and
early years development care partnerships to be drawn together
within one ministerial department.

Ashton said: “We need to look at how we make sure local
government plays its role – local services partnerships can’t
do that without child care and Sure Start being included.”

Ashton also said the government’s new children’s
centres would build on work carried out by Sure Start. “The Sure
Start principles underpin all of this as it’s been focused around
the needs of families, children and those of the locality,” she

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