Sure Start

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Sure Start is the Government’s programme to ensure delivery of free early education for all three- and four-year-olds; affordable, quality childcare and after-school activities in every area; and children’s centres and health and family support.

There are now 8 new Sure Start Partnerships in Doncaster Central constituency, and 22 across Doncaster.

Sure Start Children’s Centres – key facts
1. Sure Start Children’s Centres are ‘one stop shops’ for parents with children under five – providing services including childcare, healthcare, parenting advice, family support and opportunities to get back into work or training

2. Most services, except childcare, are free and even then, families on a low income can often claim tax credits that help them meet this cost

3. Most Sure Start Children’s Centres are open from 8am until 6pm, all year round, and some offer services in the evenings or at weekends

4. There are over 3,000 Sure Start Children’s Centres across England which provide support to almost 2.4 million children under five and their families

5. Sure Start Children’s Centres offer high quality services that are open to everyone in the community whatever their background or circumstances

6. The Government’s vision is that every child or young person should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and the Sure Start Children’s Centres programme is at the forefront of this vision

7. By March 2010 there will be 3,500 Sure Start Children’s Centres – one for every community in England

8. Research shows that 92% of parents are satisfied with the services on offer at Sure Start Children’s Centres

9. Independent research by Birkbeck College, University of London, found that parents of three-year-olds who live in Sure Start Local Programme areas have more positive parenting skills, while their young children showed better social development, behaviour and independence

10. The Government has committed over £7 billion to the Sure Start Children’s Centres programme since 1999. Current funding tops £1 billion a year

Free Early Education - All three- and four-year-olds have a minimum entitlement to free early education for 12.5 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year. All providers of early education in schools, and in private and voluntary settings, receive funding from their local authority to offer the free place. Providers may charge for additional services outside the free entitlement. The level of the fees is a private matter for agreement between you and the provider.

Doncaster’s Families Information Service 0800 138 4568 can provide advice on the local provision of free nursery places. For a comprehensive search of childcare facilities in Doncaster go to ChildcareLink.

Sure Start Maternity Grant - This is a one-off payment to help pay for things you need for a new baby if you are on a low income. The grant is tax-free and does not have to be paid back. To get one of these grants you must claim during the period from 11 weeks before the baby is due until the baby is 3 months old. Also you, or your partner, must be getting one of these benefits:
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit which includes a disability or severe disability element
  • Child Tax Credit, at a higher rate than the family element

You can download a Sure Start Maternity Grant Form. The form comes with notes that will help you fill it in and tell you where to send the completed form.

Rosie Winterton MP for Doncaster Central
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