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Sure Start Children's Centres census 2014: A national overview of Sure Start Children's Centres in 2014 [Executive summary]

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The findings of this year's Children's Centres Census attest to the important role at the heart of their communities they support. For the second year running, demand for services is at record levels, with over one million families supported and receiving services delivered through Children's Centres on a regular basis. Again, as in 2013, Centres are supporting just over two-thirds of the 500,000 most vulnerable families and children, playing a vital role in supporting those in, or on the edge of, crisis. There is also increased recognition of the benefit of Early Intervention and the joined-up and integrated support it is able to deliver for these families. Yet, at present, there is a degree of uncertainty in some areas of the country as a consequence of rapid changes taking place. The trend of decreasing per-Centre budgets observed in the previous two Censuses continues apace in 2014. We recognise the efforts that continue to be made by so many to "stretch every sinew" and meet the record and growing level of demand for their services. Many are adapting to changing priorities by finding new ways to deliver "more from less", with two main factors that are playing out in this shift: the use of new and additional funding streams; and a move -- from new guidance and direction to local authorities on Centres -- to promote increased partnership working and targeting services. (author abstract)
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