§ Margaret Hodge
35 Children's Trusts Pathfinders have been established to develop the best ways to join up children's services. Pathfinders have all created their governance arrangements and boards and have begun to integrate planning and commissioning of services in their local area. Several Pathfinders have also developed pooled budgets using Section 31 of the Health Act 1999. The Pathfinders are helping us to further the objectives set out in the Green Paper to develop services around the needs of children by integrating the planning and commissioning of services and delivering them through joint budgets.
Other non-Pathfinder local authorities and their partners have also begun to develop Children's Trusts as part of their movement towards the Green Paper "Every Child Matters" agenda.
67 children's centres have been designated so far. Further announcements will be made from early July onwards as we work towards our target of establishing 800 centres by 2006.
We were committed to opening 900 neighbourhood nurseries by April 2004. In fact, 1,139 neighbourhood nurseries are now open offering 39,235 new day care places in disadvantaged areas for children under 4. By March 2005 we expect to have created around 48,000 places under this initiative—exceeding the original target of 45,000 places.
By April 2004 we had created over 1 million new child care places providing child care for 1.8 million children as well as ensuring, six months ahead of schedule, that every 3 and 4-year-old can access a high quality part-time free nursery education place in the first term following their third birthday.1209W
§ Margaret Hodge
Day care in England is provided by private, voluntary and public sector organisations. Some of these may be co-operatives. Both social and economic enterprise should be encouraged and I would encourage any group of people considering a co-operative approach to child care provision to seek early discussions with their local authority about how such child care might fit with the local strategic plan.