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Sure Start is essential for vulnerable families

I have been a keen supporter of Sure Start from the start. It seemed obvious to me from what I saw in Sure Start centres that the most disadvantaged children would not only get a better start in life, but that this would have a lasting beneficial impact.

Progress in joint working must go on

The decision last week to strip the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) of government funding will inevitably raise concerns that any genuine "development" of the workforce will stall. A plan for how the Department for Education intends to take forward the quango's work is yet to be articulated.

Outreach work is key to Sure Start

It is becoming pretty clear that Sure Start will be a key election issue. For months, Labour has claimed that a Conservative government would decimate the service it has created, an accusation consistently denied by the Tories.

Policy into practice - Infant health

THE ISSUE: Being a new parent can be tough. Making sense of all the advice and information from relatives, magazines and experts to work out what is best for your baby can be an exhausting challenge.

A very tall order with a short deadline

Across the country, newly formed local teams are embarking on a colossal exercise. In every area, local authorities have until next month to quantify how many troubled families live in each area and set out how they are going to help them turn their lives around.

End service barriers to give families a boost

There have been numerous government-sponsored reviews over the past few months: Graham Allen on early intervention, Frank Field on social mobility, Dame Clare Tickell on the early years and Eileen Munro on child protection.

Hidden costs of payment-by-results

We are in an age of austerity where outcomes are critical. So it is difficult to take issue in raw principle with the government's desire to commission more public services on a payment-by-results basis.

It's time to respect children's rights

You wait ages for one 20th anniversary, then three come along at once. We've just marked the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 1989 Children Act. And this week it is 20 years since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child came into existence.

Teenage fathers

The government launched a campaign earlier this month called Think Fathers to dispel the myth that dads are the invisible parent.

The next commissioner needs bite

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has fired the starting gun to recruit a children's commissioner for England to succeed Sir Al Aynsley-Green early next year.

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