Tuesday 26 October 2010

Future not so sure for Sure Start...

I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how Michael Gove will reform Sure Start, but have run into obstructions at the Department for Education’s press office - typical blocking tactics from Whitehall.

Anyway, the email 'to and fro' that I had with DfE doesn’t make things sound particularly promising for Sure Start. Extracts below…

Me: I have some questions about the Spending Review 2010 document I was hoping you could answer please.

Relating to page 41, paragraph 2.2: “Sure Start services will be protected in cash terms and will be refocused on their original purpose, targeting early intervention on families who need most support…”

• Does this mean Sure Start will still provide the same range of services, but merely for fewer people?
• If so how will the Government decide which people can access Sure Start?
• Otherwise does it mean that Sure Start will provide fewer services as well? In which case, which services in particular will they no longer provide?

DfE: We remain committed to maintaining a national network of Sure Start Children’s Centres which offer universal services for all families and targeted services focused on the neediest families. This new approach reflects the Coalition commitment to refocus Children’s Centres and take Sure Start back to its original purpose of early intervention. It includes an expansion of health visiting service and the introduction of Sure Start Health Visitors, offering better support for families.

Me: Please….
• list exactly which services you mean when you say “universal services”.
• list exactly which services you mean when you say “targeted services”.
• Were those services classified as “targeted” available before the spending review?
• Now that the spending review has taken place will they be available to more or less people (please give figures)?

DfE: One thing to say on Sure Start is that it is clear that Children’s Centres will need to take a much more innovative approach – working in partnership with local communities and voluntary organisations to provide a range of services. Other than that, more information will come out from the Department soon.

...make of that what you will.

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