Poor parents struggle to access Children’s Centres

The Children’s Society have published their “Breaking Barriers” report detailing the reasons families in the greatest need are not able to access their local Children’s Centre. Government cuts and a multitude of barriers have been blamed.

Sure Start Children’s Centres can provide support for vulnerable young families on areas such as advice on children’s health, education, childcare, and advice for parents on training and employment.

Findings from the report have found that there are many reasons and barriers that parents, with children under the age of five, are not using their local Children’s Centre. Reasons include (information taken from the Children’s Society website):


•  Many disadvantaged families have very little knowledge of children’s centres. Of parents not using their local children’s centre, three quarters were unaware of what services were on offer. Four out of ten said they had never even heard of them.
•  A quarter of parents quizzed said they found it difficult to access their local children’s centre. In some cases, they were not within “pram-pushing” distance or were cut off from key services by a main road.

•  Transport was a significant barrier particularly in rural areas as disadvantaged families can be very isolated if they do not have access to a car. A third (35%) of survey respondents said they faced travel costs to go to a centre.

•  Working parents often struggle to use children’s centres because of their work commitments.  The survey shows working parents were twice as likely to face difficulties in accessing children’s centre services compared to non-working parents. Six in ten children living in poverty are in a household where at least one parent is working .

The Children’s Society is also concerned that many of the children’s centres consulted faced difficulties identifying the disadvantaged families in their local area as they were not being provided with adequate information from relevant services.”


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