Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Thursday, July 23, 1998 Published at 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK


Babies promised a 'Sure Start'

Parents will be visited within three months of a baby's birth

An integrated package of childcare services for new parents has been launched by the government, with the aim of reducing the social cost of poor parenting.

The "Sure Start" programme will bring together education, health and social services for young children, funded with £540m made available in last week's spending review.

"We're doing everything we can to support parents to do their best for their children," said the Health Minister Tessa Jowell, who promised that the new scheme would improve upon "expensive, fragmented services that never quite get it right for children".

[ image: Tessa Jowell says the new scheme will reduce bad parenting and its consequences]
Tessa Jowell says the new scheme will reduce bad parenting and its consequences
"I don't think that there's a single baby born today whose mother and father don't want to be good parents. Sure Start will equip them with the skills needed to help their children to thrive and be ready to learn when they go to school," the minister said.

"The alternative is a continuing massive waste of public money spent dealing with the consequences of poor parenting, including delinquency and social exclusion."

Under the scheme, all new parents will be visited by a Sure Start representative before their baby reaches three months, who will offer advice on health care, feeding, local childcare services, play centres and extra support for children with special physical or behavioural needs.

Conservatives warn against nanny state

These Sure Start visitors, who will be based in local schools or health centres, will supplement the services already offered by health visitors. The government intends an initial 250 Sure Start centres to be established within three years.

This more interventionist approach to providing services for new families was criticised by the Shadow Education Secretary, David Willetts, who claimed it was a further step towards a "nanny state".

He also said that the more structured approach to childcare might lead to the loss of "the rich variety of voluntary and independent provision for three year olds and younger".

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Education Contents

Hot Topics
UK Systems
League Tables
Relevant Stories

22 Jul 98†|†Education
Sit up straight at the back

03 Jun 98†|†Education
Schools project to tackle inequality in health

Internet Links

Department of Health

Department for Education and Employment

Early Years Development Partnerships

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

'Golden hellos' fail to attract new teachers

Children join online Parliament

Pupils 'too ignorant to vote'

Red tape toolkit 'not enough'

Poor report for teacher training consortium

Specialist schools' results triumph

Ex-headmaster guilty of more sex charges

Blunkett welcomes Dyke's education commitment

Web funding for specialist teachers

Local authorities call for Woodhead's sacking

Dyslexic pensioner wins PhD

Armed forces children need school help

Black pupils 'need better-trained teachers'

College 'is not cool'