Pioneers of Sure Start named;News;News and Opinion

19th November 1999 at 00:00
EDUCATION Secretary David Blunkett has approved the first 15 "trailblazer" Sure Start schemes aimed at giving children a better beginning by improving health and education opportunities.

Sure Start is to target parents on deprived estates throughout the country and help them raise their children.

Mr Blunkett said: "Sure Start is central to our drive to eliminate child poverty and tackle social exclusion.

"Our goal is simple but ambitious - to provide the support to parents through help in nurturing and developing the health, well-being and learning capability of youngsters from the very moment they are born."

Sure Start was launched in April and funded with pound;80 million over two years. Each programme has received pound;2m to pound;3m. The money will be spent on schemes ranging from improving playgroup services to helping young mothers living in hostels.

According to Mr Blunkett: "The first 15 programmes have set the standard for future Sure Start schemes to follow, changing people's lives through better services and, above all, services centred around the needs of the child and the family."

At Sunderland's Thorney Close estate, plans have been put forward to bulk-buy fresh food and children's essentials to make them more affordable for parents.

And in Thurrock, a community laundry and a project to encourage male family members to play a greater role in parenting are being considered.

In Leicester the cash will be spent on expanding local primary schools and neighbourhood centres for playgroups and creches. There will also be cash for outreach work, a childminders' network and help for teenagers and young mothers who need permanent homes.

Sixty areas were initially invited to apply for the first round of funding.

Some cities such as Leeds and Liverpool, which are waiting for approval for their Sure Start schemes, have also been asked to submit bids for the second funding round.

Sure Start is part of the Government's pound;452m investment in children and families.

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