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£4bn boost for children's services
Anthea Lipsett 2nd August 2007
The government is allocating £4bn to help disadvantaged children by paying for children's centres, early years education and childcare.
Over the next three years, the money will go towards creating 'sure start children's centres' in every community by 2010, to reach the most disadvantaged families and encourage them to take advantage of parenting support and other services on offer.
It will also pay for training and support for the early years workforce, making sure there are sufficient childcare places in each local authority and so that every nursery and children's centre has a graduate in place to lead children's learning and development
The centres will give all parents and their children a place to go to find all the services they need, such as maternity checks, childcare and advice on getting back to work.
There are 1,325 centres at present - the aim is to have 2,500 by next year and 3,500 by 2010. Of the £4bn, £175m is earmarked to support private, voluntary and independent providers of early education and childcare.
The grant includes £68m in 2008/9 only to meet the start up costs of extended schools. This sum is part of the £1.1bn funding over three years for extended schools announced on July 25. From 2009/10 onwards all funding for extended schools will be from the Standards Fund.
Children's minister Beverley Hughes said: "The early years are crucial to a child's development and their future prospects. We need to put services in place that can give every child the very best possible start in life. Local authorities now have the money to make that happen."
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