Saturday, 30 January 2010

Cameron and Sure Start

I am very disappointed by Cameron's suggestion about using Sure Start as a way of providing specific help to dysfunctional and deprived families.  No1, how will he define dysfunctional and what exactly is a deprived family.  No2. How does he intend on getting these families through the doors of the Sure Start buildings, which will no longer looked upon as centres of the community, but stigmatised family areas; where the people who can't cope go to? and No 3. why does he want to stop the communities that have developed within these centres from forming, because, as a result of these centres, a lot of the private parent and toddler groups have gone, in the search of better quality resources.

I understand that he is pointing out the obvious that the people who need extra resources, whatever that is, are not getting the support they need.  However, this problem does not stem from the grassroots of society through centres like Sure Start, but it comes from the inequalities of the whole of our system in society, and when I talk about inequalities, I don't just mean monetary.  I mean that unfortunately, England is a deprived society when it comes to children, because, policies don't really consider families and even in general society does not think about the needs of children.  We still foster Victorian attitudes and I believe in order for society to change it requires an overhaul  of how we consider success, in this I agree with Illich.

So Mr Cameron, your policies already show up who you are.  Please do not further deprive the communities of England by withdrawing a resource that is necessary to every family with young children, because Sure Start has helped me and at times it has been a saving grace, its been great to know that I could go somewhere, feel welcomed, not feel stigmatised, get the support I needed and just this knowledge alone helped me in ways that cannot be measured.  No, keep Sure Start if anything, give them more resources to continue a great service.  I suggest a more radical way forward, how about help families with young children, offering them more financial support, that's right I said it, not cuts.  Support people by giving them help.

Even as a Christian, I believe your tax breaks for the married couples is unfair to people who are not married, because there are families who have children and the parents are not married.  Also, the money that will be going to the richer people is money that will be wasted, when it could be spent on those "dysfunctional, deprived families"  What do you think?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Cameron's Plan for Sure Start

Cameron sets out plans for new Sure Start

By Catherine Gaunt, Nursery World, 11 January 2010
Sure Start children's centres would move away from providing universal services for all parents with young children and focus on the most disadvantaged and 'dysfunctional' families, under Conservative party plans for 'a new generation' of Sure Start centres.
Conservative leader David Cameron said that the new model of Sure Start would focus on early intervention, with staff paid partly by results.
Speaking at the launch of an inquiry by think-tank Demos on ‘character', Mr Cameron reiterated the Tories' commitment to Sure Start but said it had lost its focus.
He said, ‘There is little accountability in how Sure Start money is spent, so the funding doesn't necessarily follow the support programmes that work. There's not enough diversity of provision, because the voluntary sector and other community organisations have been crowded out.
‘The people who need it most – disadvantaged and dysfunctional families – are not getting enough of the benefit.'
Mr Cameron said that research from the National Academy for Parenting Practitioners and others had identified what worked, and that independent organisations with a proven track record in parenting interventions, like Lifeline and 4Children and Homestart, would be invited to run children's centres.
‘They will then be paid – at least in part – according to the results they achieve. Of course many things we regard as success are hard to measure, such as a child's level of happiness and comfort. But as the family nurse partnership has suggested, there are some tangible measurements we can apply – for example, improvements in school readiness and infant mortality.'
He said that if the Tories were in power a new Early Years Support Team would be set up within the Department for Children, Schools and Families, with responsibility for designing these contracts.
He added, ‘The funding for this work will be through a dedicated Early Years Support Budget, building on the existing dedicated funding for Sure Start by incorporating the many streams of funding directed at early years support that are currently dispersed through Whitehall.'
Mr Cameron likened the Conservatives' ambition for Sure Start to the success of the Academy schools programme, in that centres would be independent and operate outside local government and funded directly by central government.
Commenting on the proposals, Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, welcomed plans to bring together early years funding and increase accountability, but said Sure Start should remain universal.
‘One of the great advantages of children's centres is that they do not stigmatise families because they are available to all, something that families tell us is very important,' she said.
‘Too narrow a focus on deprived families may jeopardise this, and we would urge Mr Cameron to maintain a universal approach.
'While a focus on results and outcomes is positive, international evidence has shown that the real gains from early years investment are not fully realised until those children reach maturity. This must be taken into account.'
Mr Cameron also said that the Conservatives would shortly be publishing their own family green paper on policies to make Britain more family-friendly.

Can you catch your breath!?!  It's late I need to sleep.  Cameron is going backwards Will comment on this in the near future.