HC Deb 27 January 2003 vol 398 cc542-3W
Judy Mallaber

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what the role of Early Years Partnerships will be in the new Sure Start programme; [87615]

(2) if the Sure Start advisors in the regions will be responsible for all Early Years initiatives within their region. [87616]

Maria Eagle

[holding answer 18 December 2002]: To make life better for children, parents and communities, on 11 December we launched the new Sure Start Unit. This brings together at a national level responsibility for early education, child care and health and family support in one, cross-departmental unit. Drawing on best practice in early education, child care and Sure Start local programmes, the guiding principles of the new unit are:

  • Working with parents and children;
  • Services for everyone (responding to varying needs);
  • Flexible at the point of delivery;
  • Starting very early;
  • Respectful and transparent;
  • Community driven and professionally coordinated;
  • Outcome driven (core purpose—better outcomes for children);

These national changes will be reflected in some reorganisation of the local support the unit provides to ensure that mainstream services for children and parents are delivered in accordance with the unit's guiding principles. We are currently considering how best to achieve this.

This national change does not, however, alter the existing roles and responsibilities of Local Authorities and Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships (EYDCPs). Local authorities will retain their significant responsibilities under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 for early years and child care. This includes setting up and maintaining EYDCPs to assist in preparing early years strategic plans and developing the local provision of child care.

At a national level, responsibility for Sure Start, early years and child care have been brought together in one cross-departmental unit (the Sure Start Unit). This unit led by Baroness Ashton who is a joint DfES/DWP Minister will continue to provide support to the local delivery of services through a network of regionally-based teams and advisors, ensuring that people with the most appropriate skills and experience are available to assist delivery of this important area of the Government's agenda.

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