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Bright futures: local children, local approaches

Good practice in children’s centres

Local authorities understand the importance of a child’s early years in their future development and quality of life. Councils play a fundamental role in promoting children’s well-being and improving outcomes for young children and their families with children’s centres being one of a range of important resources councils use to help achieve this. Professor Munro’s review of child protection (May 2011) discussed the benefits of children’s centres, setting out that the best early years settings are those that know their communities, work holistically around the family, and act as a hub for multi-agency teams whilst also offering access to specialist services.

Department for Education figures show that local authorities spent a total of £1.1 billion (gross) on Sure Start Children’s Centres in 2010/11. However with councils continuing to face significant additional cost pressures, it is imperative that any current discussion around children’s centres must take into account the context of the wider funding landscape. The good practice case studies in this publication showcase councils’ commitment in galvanising children’s centres to help deliver better outcomes for children in their local area. The local flexibility to be able to achieve this is increasingly important in the context of budget reductions and rising pressures on the system, including increasing numbers of referrals to social care and of children looked after.