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The Government have set out a core purpose for Sure Start Children's Centres, focused on outcomes for children and families, particularly the most vulnerable. It is clear that children's centres can best achieve this by providing access to a range of universal and targeted services, which includes high-quality child care and early education such as access to the three and four-year-old entitlement to 15 hours of free early education and the new entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds. The evidence is clear on the impact that high-quality early learning and child care has on children's outcomes, particularly for the most disadvantaged children.
The Government do not want to prescribe the detail of how local authorities and professionals run local services. However, as set out in the Childcare Act 2006, all children's centres should provide access to child care, either by having it on site or by providing advice and assistance in accessing it elsewhere. Children's centres with early learning and child care on site must meet the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which set the standards for quality across all early years settings. The Government have recently consulted on their proposals for a clearer, simpler, more effective EYFS. A summary report on the consultation, and the Government's response, will be published later this year.