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Evaluation of Children’s Centres in England (ECCE)

Strand 3: Delivery of Family Services by Children’s Centres

Chapter 1 explains the policy background to the development of children's centres. It describes the nature and style of early years provision from the early seventies when many services were provided by the voluntary or private sectors with maintained provision in nursery classes or nursery schools. There was virtually no national policy framework, with provision varying at the behest of local authorities. The chapter describes the developments of the last 40 years and the changes that have resulted to form the current comprehensive model of early education, care, and integrated family support services. It also describes some of the tensions in the core purpose of the current policy: children or parents, employment or family support, and targeted or universal provision in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. These issues underpin the rest of the report which details the current offer of children's centres.