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More families in need supported by children’s centres

Date:12 JUN 2014
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Journals Manager + Online Editor

Children’s centres are reaching over 90% of families most in need, research has revealed today (11 June 2014).

Last year more than 1 million parents received help and support on all aspects of family life through children’s centres. Today’s report shows an overwhelming number of families are accessing high-quality, targeted services.

Education and Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss said:

It is great news to see that children’s centres are performing better than ever. Today’s figures prove that centres are successfully reaching out to those families most in need, with the vast majority of parents happy with the services they’ve received - from stay and play and health checks, to back to work support for parents. The government’s clear that children’s centres have a vital role to play in making sure families get the help they need by offering a wide range of local, flexible services so they can choose what works best for their family. Today’s evidence shows that centres are doing just that - acting as a valuable lifeline for families up and down the country.

Over 88% of families most in need have told the Department for Education (DfE) that the services in their area are good, providing a multitude of invaluable services for all parents and families, including:

  • almost all centres are offering stay and play services - providing stimulating and challenging activities for young children
  • over 90% of centres offer individual home-based family support - reaching out to those parents most in need
  • 81% are offering activities and hobbies for parents
  • three-quarters are offering health checks for parents and their children - ensuring they are growing up fit and healthy
  • around two-thirds of centres provide breastfeeding support for new mothers

The report comes as Ofsted is considering how the inspection framework can be changed with the aim of overhauling and modernising the way they look at these centres.

There are currently over 3,000 children’s centres open across the country, providing tailored and specialist services for local parents and children, with a further 531 additional premises providing children’s centre services as part of a network. Centres are inspected individually or in small groups, with each centre receiving its own rating on services provided as well as the quality of management.

Ofsted is now planning to inspect all the children’s centres in each local authority area together as well as local authority oversight to make sure all children are being supported. It will consult on the new approach later in the year - helping ensure that all centres tailor services that meet the needs of local families.

The government wants children’s centres to reach out to local parents, improving outcomes for both young children and their families by supporting child development, boosting parenting skills and improving health and life chances.

This is just one of many government reforms to improve support for all children - no matter what their starting point in life.

The government is also extending free early education to around 260,000 disadvantaged 2 year olds, and has:

  • increased free early education for 3 and 4 year olds to 15 hours a week
  • encouraged schools to offer more childcare
  • made it easier for good and outstanding childminders to offer free early education