Unsure future for Sure Start

Sure Start is an early years development programme which was set up by the Labour government back in the late 1990s. It provides services for families with young children. However, management of the centres has now been moved to the voluntary sector and many have been merged and then grouped into clusters which share managers although it is argued that all 81 centres still remain open and there has been no effect on frontline workers despite savings of £5.9m on management and bureaucracy costs. However, parent campaigners disagree.

A recent census of Sure Start centres found that almost 20% were providing fewer services than last year and 55% had lost staff. 62% had seen their budgets reduced and one in 10 said that they were struggling financially. However, 42% of centres said that they had increased their services and 37% had increased their staff levels.

Sure Start is invaluable in the reduction of child protection issues and the early intervention of vulnerable families.