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Off to a good start

A special report on New Labour policy and its outcomes for children reveals a government trying very hard to do the right thing. There has been, as experts in the journal Children and Society say, a blizzard of new schemes to reduce inequalities since 1997.

Most will take time to show real results, but there are some encouraging signs. Evidence is emerging of a decline in child poverty - one of the Government's top priorities, of improved child mental health, and in support for disabled children and their families.

The Sure Start programme, which integrates services for children in deprived areas, is finding ways to help families where it is most needed.

But there is still a need for more joined-up thinking, for instance to bring together the needs of young children and those of their parents for employment and childcare.

Labour made a good start, but the toughest thinking still lies ahead for Margaret Hodge, the new minister for children.

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