19 November 2005

80,000 children excluded from the Sure Start Programme

Sinn Féin

Published: 19 November, 2005

Sinn Fein Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson met with NIPPA Chief Executive Siobhan Fitzpatrick to discuss the need to secure the universal availability of Early Years provision throughout the island of Ireland. Meeting at NIPPA’s Belfast Offices the meeting discussed the recent budget allocation by Peter Hain and the need to promote an all Ireland strategy of provision that is underpinned by addressing the inequalities of deprivation and poverty.

Commenting upon the meeting Michael Ferguson said,

“ It is of the first importance that we promote Early Year’s provision, a point that I reinforced when addressing the ‘Re-Imagining Apprenticeship’ GMB Conference at Belfast City Hall this week. It was clear to all of us when discussing the skills deficit that early intervention and provision was crucial to increase educational attainment levels.

It is clear to educationalists and experts in early year’s provision that educational underachievement is a direct cause of deprivation and poverty and that it is simply not an educational problem but rather a health and social care issue as well.

We need an integrated delivery of health and social service provision into early years centers. In England a budget of £918 million has been set aside to promote Children’s Centres and the £50 allocated over the next two years to the Six Counties will not deliver the 40 Centres that we require. Indeed our Sure Start Programmes exclude 80,000 children from services because of under funding.

I assured NIPPA that we would continue to support the Community and Voluntary sector provision of Early Years support and in particular the intervention in rural areas and communities characterized by multiple deprivation.”

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