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Commission urges government to learn lessons from Sure Start as Family Hub roll out gains speed

The Social Mobility Commission has called on the government to learn from the Sure Start children’s centre initiative as Family Hubs are launched across the country.

After the closure of around 1,000 Sure Start children’s centres over the last decade there has been a growing focus on rolling out Family Hubs which offer targeted early intervention for children from birth to 19.

Whilst only 150 or so Family Hubs exist at the moment the Social Mobility Commission wants to see the number expanded and to ensure government learns from the successes of Sure Start.

Key considerations include the need to ensure hubs are located in disadvantaged communities and with a focus on multi-agency support for families. The Commission also wants Family Hubs to emulate other Sure Start successes including “taking more coordinated and strategic approaches to bring in families less likely to use early childhood services” with the need to establish “clear protocols for data sharing”.

The Commission’s State of the Nation 2021 report states “Many of these approaches could mean a strong and thriving offer for disadvantaged families if they are supported and expanded across the country.” It also notes that the closure of Sure Start centres has “undermined outcomes for young children and their families” and disproportionately impacted “the outcomes of children from more disadvantaged backgrounds”.