§ Margaret Hodge
The National Childcare Strategy offers substantial resources to develop childcare facilities in all areas, including rural communities. The Neighbourhood Nurseries Initiative, which is part of the Strategy, encompasses rural communities and was launched in 2001 to create 45,000 childcare places in the most disadvantaged communities. Furthermore, an additional £22 million has been allocated for a round of smaller Sure Start programmes, delivered through Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships (EYDCPs). These new Mini-Sure Starts will provide additional resources to new Neighbourhood Nurseries and existing childcare facilities in rural areas, small towns, and pockets of disadvantage.
DfES Officials are working closely with the Countryside Agency to maximise support for rural areas and policies which take the needs of rural areas into account in accordance with the Rural White Paper. There is also a rural adviser seconded to the Early Years and Childcare Unit in my Department to advise on rural issues.