4Children launch ‘Sure Start census’

May 5, 2011 at 9:01 am Leave a comment

by Claire McEneaney

Families charity 4Children has created a census to track the changes in services run by children’s centres across the country, as the removal of the ring-fence of funding kicks in. The online survey, sent to all Children’s Centre managers is part of 4Children’s ‘Shout out for a Sure Start’ campaign, which is dedicated to prmoteing the work done by Children’s Centres to support young children. Data collected by the survey will see Children’s Centres providing information on the number and type of staff they employ, the number of childcare places on offer, the balance of universal versus targeted servcies, and the extent of charges for services. Centres will then complete the survey annually, every March, and 4Children will track the changes.

I think this is an exciting way for us to understand how our provision for early years will change over the next few years. It will provide a much needed baseline about the existing state of play, and enable us to assess the impact that the early intervention grant is having.

However, we know from our work on Transforming Early Years, that effectively supporting families with young children is about much more than providing universal access and childcare places. I would like to see 4Children looking at how early years provision is changing through a wider lens than it is currently. Our sites are working to develop radical solutions which will provide better outcomes for families and their young children, more often than not with an emphasis on working in the community and using peer-to-peer support, rather than something Centre based with professionals.

Whilst the data gathered by the survey will be interesting on its own, I think it would be fantastic if 4Children worked to drill down to the stories behind the numbers to understand why things are changing, and what impact these changes are really having on families. If we are to provide an excellent start in life for young children, we need to focus on the impact our early years services are having, not just on numbers.

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Entry filed under: Big society, Education & Children's Services, Innovation Policy, Local Authorities, Public Services, Radical Efficiency, Research.

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