Sure Start Children’s Centres offer a local hub for families with young children. They offer a ‘one-stop shop’ for childcare and early education, health services, parenting support, information about health and child development, and employment advice. But the programme has had a turbulent history; following a fast rollout in the early 2000s, funding since 2009-10 has been cut by two thirds.
Despite the speed and controversy of this rapid expansion and subsequent cuts, there is relatively little evidence available on the impacts that Sure Start has had on children and their families. New IFS research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, examines the effect that Sure Start has had on health outcomes. To what extent has Sure Start benefitted children’s health? Which groups of children benefit the most? How might these benefits have come about?
The event will also include a broader discussion of child health and early intervention policies, featuring Kathy Sylva (Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Oxford and one of the lead researchers on the Evaluation of Children’s Centres in England), Leon Feinstein (Director of Evidence at the Office of the Children’s Commissioner) and Helen Duncan (Programme Director of the National Child and Maternal Health Intelligence Network at Public Health England). Naomi Eisenstadt, the first director of the Sure Start Unit and now an advisor to the Scottish Government, will give the keynote address.