We need to give children the start they deserve

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Sure Start gives the vulnerable in our society the start that they deserve in life.

I’m committed to ensuring that these vital resources are protected to help those most in need.

From the children, whose health and wellbeing is improved, to the young parents who are given the support and parenting skills that may have been lacking in their own lives, I know how much they gain from this lifeline.

That’s why I called on David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions to endorse proposals that protect frontline services. I know that difficult spending decisions have to be made by local councils, but these savings must be made on bureaucracy and administration, not the valuable things parents rely on such as family support workers.

Sure Start transforms lives in areas like Gosport.

I’ve been inspired by the work of our local centres in dramatically improving the well-being, educational achievements and health of children.

Young parents also benefit from this support.

Some have had to cope with teenage pregnancy and single-motherhood, or suffered abusive relationships or problems with drugs and alcohol. They may have lacked a network of support and encouragement, and these are some of the things that Sure Start now provides.

It’s striking how important the early years of childhood are to our future prospects.

Research has shown that a child’s development at 22 months is an accurate indicator of educational outcomes at 26 years old, while boys deemed to be ‘at risk’ at three years old have almost three times more criminal convictions than their peers in adulthood. This is why we must support children from the very start.

Cutbacks are necessary, but these cannot come at the expense of those who need help the most.