Sure Start centres to charge wealthier families

Some parents likely to face fees to use local childcare centres after children’s minister Sarah Teather lays down new rules

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Plans to change free childcare programme, Sure Start, have been announced with news that middle class families will face charges to use the facilities, as the Government want to focus on the “neediest” families.

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The children’s minister, Sarah Teather, will tell charities and councils who run the 3,500 centres across the UK to consider charging better-off families for certain activities.  “I’m not saying that Sure Start children’s services will be closed to some families in the area. We want it to be a non-stigmatising service but within that service, we want it to be much better at targeting the resources,” Sarah told the Observer.

Sarah also announced the introduction of the “payment by results” scheme, where money will be withheld from councils and charities until they prove that they have turned around the life chances of poorer children in the area. Standing by her view that children from lower income families should benefit from free facilities in local area, she wants the services to think less about the number of people they get through the door, and more on how it’ll help those who need it most.

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“Did it help, did it make a difference, did it change lives?” these are the questions that should be asked,” claims Sarah.

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