‘Tensions in councils’ new Sure Start role’

    There might be conflict between councils’ core work of child
    protection and Sure Start’s preventive agenda, it was warned this
    week.

    By April 2008 all money for Sure Start will be given to councils to
    distribute to local programmes.

    Ian Vallender, director of policy at the National Council of
    Voluntary Child Care Organisations, said that local authorities
    would face “conflicting pressures”.

    Frances Rehal, programme manager of Sure Start Millmead in Kent,
    said that inspections needed to measure more of councils’
    preventive services for the system to work.

    “Councils are now being judged on their core business of
    looked-after children and child protection. If they are going to
    successfully run Sure Start local programmes then they have to
    redirect some funding towards prevention.”

    Local authorities’ Sure Start budgets will be ringfenced but
    councils will be able to decide how funds are distributed among
    local programmes.

    Sure Start local programmes will become children’s centres. There
    are 524 operating in disadvantaged areas. The government is to
    create 3,500 children’s centres in England by 2010, which it says
    will enable every family to have access.

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