Shout Out for a Sure Start
I'm a big believer in the importance of the Sure Start centres so I was really saddened to hear from one of our venues that the breakfast and after school clubs in Camden and Haringey will all be closing in September.
According to a press release from 4children.org.uk, 250 Sure Start centres are at risk of closure within a year, a further 2,000 will be cutting back the services which they offer and 1,000 centres are issuing 'at risk of redundancy notices' to staff.
In the Government Spending Review, you might remember that the Sure Start budget was protected in cash terms. However, since the ring-fencing of said budget has been removed, it's clear to me that this 'protection' of funds is pretty meaningless.
4Children have commissioned a national survey, which suggests that over the next 12 months:
- 250 (7%) Sure Start centres will close or are expected to close, affecting an estimated 60,000 families
- 2,000 (56%) centres will provide a reduced service
- 3,100 (86%) centres will have a decreased budget
- Staff at 1,000 centres (28%) have been issued with ?at risk of redundancy' notices
Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children said:
?Families across the country, particularly the most vulnerable, depend on Sure Start Children's Centres to help get their children off to the best start in life. We know that Local Authorities have some extremely difficult spending decisions to make but investment now will lead to real long term savings in the longer term."
Anand Shukla, acting Chief Executive of Daycare Trust said:
?Behind every Children's Centre facing closure is a community of families devastated at losing one of their most valued local services. The tragedy of these cuts is that the full extent of Sure Start's impact on children's development will only be achieved in the long term ? and the impending closure of so many Centres means this investment will not now be fully realised."
Frank Field MP, Government adviser on poverty and life chances said:
?It is inconceivable that we can make the Foundation Years effective if Sure Start Children's Centres all over the place are being slaughtered. Local Authorities must seek to employ innovative methods to ensure families ? especially the poorest families ? do not lose the vital support they need.?
So what can we do about this?
The 'shout out for a sure start' campaign was originally launched on 9 February 2010. The campaign aims to celebrate and promote the valuable work done by Sure Start Children's Centres in our communities.
If you'd like to find out more about the campaign, visit the shout out website - there you can:
- Sign the Pledge
- Share and debate your Sure Start experiences via a forum
- Sign up to the Facebook supporters group
- Share any concerns you have about the future of your local Sure Start Children's Centre
- Find out where to get more information about your local Sure Start Centre
I think the provision of these sorts of services is so important. If you feel the same, I'd strongly urge you to pledge your support too.