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Sure Start Services

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Sure Start is a government-funded programme introduced by Labour in the late 1990s, which aims to offer support to parents and young children. The services provided by Sure Start are varied and expectant/new parents are bound to find something they will find useful or interesting. The sessions usually take place in a Sure Start Children’s Centre, though in some areas local community buildings will be used instead.

As well as offering practical advice and support, taking advantage of Sure Start services is a great way to meet other parents in your area, form friendships or even just enjoy a natter and some adult company as you get out of the house for a while.

Core services

There are several ‘core’ services provided by Sure Start that should be available to parents and children in all areas. These include:

Advice on children’s learning and development

Information on childcare, local services and wellbeing

Access to specialists for children with special needs

Home visiting

Healthcare advice and support with communication

Encouraging quality playing, both in the home and during groups

Additional services

Additional programmes offered will depend on the needs of the local population as well as budgetary issues. These extra services may include things like practical classes in baby massage or cooking food for weaning babies, ante-natal and breastfeeding support, play sessions, toy libraries and support groups for those such as young parents, fathers and ethnic minorities.

Integration of services

sure start servicesOne of the main aims of Sure Start is to integrate services into a one-stop centre for young families. Health advice, play groups, education, care and family support are all available in Children’s Centres, providing parents with all the information they need under one roof.

Benefits of children taking part in Sure Start activities

There is strong evidence that taking part in activities, such as those run by Sure Start, helps young children’s social, emotional and intellectual development. Reports have also shown that kids who have used Sure Start services are more likely to experience better health than their peers who haven’t, are less likely to be obese by the age of five and have less chaotic home lives.

More information

Your midwife or health visitor should be able to give you information on what services Sure Start run in your area. Sure Start services are open to all parents and children under the age of five and most are free to use.

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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