Research by The Institute for Fiscal studies shows that Sure Start children’s centres substantially benefit the health of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The research, which was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, identified a number of benefits including:
• A significant reduction in hospitalisations among children by the time they finish primary school (an 18% reduction at age 11).
• Benefits being stronger for disadvantaged children with the gap between rich and poor areas halved.
• Reductions at all ages for injuries (a 30% reduction at age 11).
Whist finding no impacts on obesity or maternal mental health.
The study suggests that the benefits of the programme from averted hospitalisations cover around 6% of the costs of the centres and goes on to pose the following two questions to policy makers:
Given the substantial benefits for children’s health that we find, is the current level of cuts to Sure Start’s budget appropriate?
In a context where spending is cut back from its peak, how should these cuts be delivered?
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