Sure Start improves health

Children in Sure Start areas have better physical health and their mums provide a more stimulating learning environment for them, according to an impact assessment of the programme.

Children in Sure Start areas have better physical health and their mums provide a more stimulating learning environment for them, according to an impact assessment of the programme.

Key findings of the National Evaluation of Sure Start Report carried out by Birkbeck University into The Impact of Sure Start Local Programmes on five year olds and their families include the fact that children with a local Sure Start programme are less prone to obesity and have better physical health and their mums provide a less chaotic home environment for their children, admit to greater life satisfaction and are less inclined to use harsh forms of discipline. Children were also less likely to be in workless households in Sure Start areas.

However, although the research found most;y positive effects, there were some negatives, for instance, mums in Sure Start areas experienced more depressive symptoms and were less likely to go to parent teacher meetings than average.

The report concludes: "While the results are modest…they raise the possibility that the value of Sure Start children’s centres is improving, but greater emphasis needs to be given to focusing services on improving child outcomes, particularly language development, if school readiness is to be enhanced for the children served."

Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of charity 4Children, said: “This report shows many of the important benefits that we know Sure Start provides to families through running our own Children’s Centres. Particularly in areas of disadvantage, reducing the likelihood of children being overweight and improving a parent’s levels of life satisfaction are crucial in ensuring that children feel happy and secure. Equally, creating a more stimulating and less chaotic home environment directly impacts a child’s future chances of success. But it is not until the first generation of children who have used Sure Start reach their teenage years that we will begin to see all the rewards of this investment.&rdquo



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