Clarke launches programme to help the most deprived children

27 Mar 03
Education Secretary Charles Clarke has launched a £435m programme to provide children's centres in the most deprived parts of England. The centres will offer childcare, nursery education, parenting support and family health services in the most depriv

28 March 2003

Education Secretary Charles Clarke has launched a £435m programme to provide children's centres in the most deprived parts of England.

The centres will offer childcare, nursery education, parenting support and family health services in the most deprived fifth of electoral wards. There will also be employment advice and outreach services for parents.

Funding for the centres will come to local authorities as a single stream, combining money identified in last year's Spending Review for children's centres and neighbourhood nurseries. The money will be paid over three years in stages of £5m, £125m and £305m.

Clarke told a seminar on education and child poverty on March 25: 'The attainment gap between poor and better-off children must be closed if we are to develop the potential of all young people. The nation cannot accept the current situation, in which differences between children's backgrounds are evident as early as 22 months.'

Local authorities will be responsible for deciding where children's centres are sited, in consultation with primary care trusts. Suitable provision outside the 20% most deprived wards can also be designated as centres, but these will not attract funding.

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