Hodge to protect parent involvement

    Children’s minister Margaret Hodge attempted to allay fears last
    week that parent participation in Sure Start local programmes would
    diminish once they came under local authority control.

    Hodge said the government would put in place measures to ensure
    local programmes remained parent- and community-driven.

    “I get surprised that people undermine local government,” she
    told the House of Commons education and skills committee.

    “The idea that we are better at getting community participation
    in Sure Start at the centre is very much mistaken.”

    From April 2006, money for Sure Start local programmes will
    begin to be channelled through local authorities rather than be
    given directly to the programmes. By April 2008, all programmes
    will be funded in this way.

    The 524 local programmes will change into children’s centres and
    the government aims to create 3,500 centres in England by 2010.

    Hodge promised MPs that children’s centres “would not be
    short-changed in any way”. However, she admitted that she
    “sometimes worried” about children’s centres attracting
    mainstreaming funding.

    She said it was important that, for example, children’s centres
    attracted mainstream funding from health bodies for services such
    as health visitors, and that the centres were not solely funded
    through Sure Start.
    She said primary care trusts were often unclear how much they were
    spending on children.


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