APPG on Sure Start Children's Centres


The next meeting of the group will take place in October/November 2014. Further information, including the date, location and speaker line-up, will be published here once details are confirmed.


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4Children provides the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sure Start Children’s Centres. Launched in March 2010, the Group’s aims are to champion the good work of children’s centres; to identify and share good practice; and to consider and inform policy development on key issues. Here you can find further information about the Group, as well as materials and briefings from past meetings.

The group held its latest Annual General Meeting (AGM) of MPs on Wednesday 18 June 2014 electing former Labour Assistant Whip, Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham as its new Chair. Cross-bencher Lord Listowel and Labour MP Sharon Hodgson were confirmed as Vice Chairs.  The Conservative MP Jessica Lee MP was elected Secretary/Treasurer..

- Group Officers
- Meetings in 2013-14
- Meetings in 2012-13: Inquiry and Report ("Best Practice for a Sure Start")
- Meetings in 2010-12: Discussions and Evidence
- Previous Meetings: Minutes and Notes

Group Officers

Details of the MPs and peers who currently serve as Officers of the Group are as follows:

  • Chair: Lyn Brown MP (Lab)
  • Vice Chairs: Sharon Hodgson MP (Lab); Earl of Listowel (Cross-Bench)
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Jessica Lee MP (Con)


Meetings in 2013-14

In addition to the Group's AGM (held on 16 July 2013), three meetings were held during the 2013-14 Parliamentary session. Details of these meetings, including minutes and speaker presentations where available, are below:

11 March 2014

This meeting, held jointly with the APPG on Strengethening Couple Relationships and the APPG on Conception to Age Two, focused on the role that Children's Centres can play in delivering relationship support. Summary of meeting [PDF].
  • Anne Longfield, Chief Executive, 4Children (Speaking Notes [PDF])
  • Honor Rhodes, Director of Projects and Strategic Development, Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships (Presentation [PDF])
  • Bev Miller, Centre Director, Relate Derby and Southern Derbyshire (Presentation [PDF])
  • Dr Samantha Callan, Associate Director for Families and Mental Health, Centre for Social Justice
  • Jeszemma Garratt, National Practice Development Manager, Fatherhood Institute (Presentation [PDF])

29 January 2014

This meeting discussed the role of Children's Centres in early years and childcare provision. Summary of meeting [PDF]
  • Elizabeth Truss MP, Minister for Education and Childcare
  • Harriet Price, Head of Centre at Homerton Children’s Centre, Cambridgeshire (Presentation [PDF])
  • Simon Dennison, Team Manager Children and Family Service, Southampton City Council (Speaking Notes [PDF])

27 November 2013

The meeting discussed a number of issues raised in the Group's recently published "Best Practice for a Sure Start" report. Summary of the meeting [PDF]
  • Birth registration: Mark Rimmer, Chair of the Local Registration Services Association
  • Evaluation of outcomes: Dr Angela Donkin, UCL Institute of Health Equity (Presentation [PDF])
  • Integration with health services: Sabrina Fuller, Head of Health Improvement, NHS England (Presentation [PDF])


Meetings in 2012-13: Inquiry and Report

Best Pratice for a Sure Start: The Way Forward for Children's Centres

During the 2012-13 Parliamentary session, the Group undertook a year-long inquiry into the work of Sure Start Children's Centres. This culminated in the publication of a major report, "Best Practice for a Sure Start: The Way Forward for Children's Centres", at the Annual General Meeting that took place on 16 July 2013.

Read or download the report Best Practice for a Sure Start: The Way Forward for Children's Centres (PDF)

The report emphasises the importance of collaboration between children's centres and services such as midwifery and health visitors. The Annex of the report is evidence from the Department for Education, setting out the benefits of registering births at children's centres.

- Key Conclusions
- Media Coverage
- Evidence Sessions

Key Conclusions
The key conclusions of the report were are follows:

  • 1. A holistic approach: This should be a priority for future delivery. Children’s Centres should continue to provide advice, support and services to all families with children under 5 but with a renewed focus on conception to age two
  • 2. Pooling budgets: Local Authorities, Health and Wellbeing Boards and their local partners must make greater use of pooled budgets to allow for more innovative commissioning of perinatal and Children’s Centre services
  • 3. Registration of births: Should take place in Children’s Centres – no legislation is required but cross-Government political commitments will be needed to make it happen
  • 4. Data sharing: The systematic sharing of live birth data and other appropriate information between health and Children’s Centres must be put in place.
  • 5. Under one roof: All perinatal services should be delivered and accessed from the Children’s Centre, including midwifery, health visiting and Children’s Centre services
  • 6. Early intervention: Government must put this at the heart of the 2016-18 Comprehensive Spending Review, with a commitment to shifting 2-3% of spending from late, to early, intervention each year
  • 7. Measuring and comparing outcomes: Children’s Centres should do this for the children and families they work with over the longer term, and at least until the point that the child starts school
  • 8. Sharing information on best practice: As part of doing so, local authorities should monitor relative performance of Children’s Centres in their area

Media Coverage
The report gained considerable attention from the national media and commentators, both at the time of its launch and since, including:

Evidence Sessions
Over the course of the inquiry, the Group held four evidence sessions between September 2012 and March 2013. Details of each of these meetings, including minutes, are below:

Evidence Session 1 (6 September 2012) Delivering for Families

  • Louise Harrington, Director and Principal Researcher, NLH Partnership
  • Una Summerson, Policy & Public Affairs Director, Contact a Family
  • Jo Hardy, Head of Service Development, Contact a Family
  • Samantha Lyle, Coventry Save our Sure Start Campaign
  • George Hosking, Chief Executive, WAVE Trust
  • Joanna Tucker, Clinical Director, OXPIP

Evidence Session 2 (22 November 2012) Innovative delivery models and harnessing the power of the community

  • Lesley Hollinshead, Children and Families Services Manager, Knowsley
  • Rachel Howard, Children‟s Centre Leader, Action for Children
  • Vanessa, Volunteer, Action for Children
  • Jenny Deeks, Children‟s Centre Manager, Coin Street Children‟s Centre
  • Karen Cartwright, Founder, Beanies Cafe
  • Hina Shah, Founder, Beanies Cafe

Evidence Session 3 (30 January 2013) Sure Start Centres and Child Protection: Joint meeting with the APPG on Child Protection

  • Lisa Harker, NSPCC
  • Louise Casey, Troubled Families Unit in the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

Evidence Session 4 (26 March 2013) Achieving Outcomes: Maximising Impact

  • Sue Egersdorff, Children’s Centre Leaders Reference Group
  • Susan Gregory HMI, Director of Early Childhood, Ofsted
  • Ann Gross, Director of Early Years and Special Needs Group, Department for Education

These evidence sessions built on discussions that took place at previous meetings around specific themes (see Meetings in 2010-2012: Discussions and Evidence)


Meetings in 2010-12: Discussions and Evidence

Previous meetings of the Group have focused around a range of themes and topics, with notes from these meetings and other presentations/contributions available below:

Sharing good practice: national voluntary sector providers – models of delivery

Sure Start and Local Authorities

  • Jenny Andrews (Manchester City Council)
  • Nick Whitfield (Richmond-upon-Thames Council)
  • Cllr Christine Percival (Richmond-upon-Thames Council)
  • Trevor Doughty (Cornwall County Council)
  • Cllr Neil Burden (Cornwall County Council)
  • Cllr Rita Krishna (LGA)
  • Note on discussion from meeting of 14 December 2011 (PDF)

Spending Settlements and Inspections/Results

Health visitors, Sure Start, and outreach

4Children and Daycare Trust Children's Centre Managers Survey

Liaison with Government Ministers


Previous Meetings: Minutes and Notes

Full list of meeting dates (2010-13) and speakers (PDF)

Annual General Meeting (AGM) minutes
- 16 July 2013 (PDF)
- 12 June 2012 (PDF)
- 18 May 2011 (PDF)

Other meetings
- 8 December 2010 (PDF)
- 8 June 2010 (PDF)
- 10 March 2010 (PDF)