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A study has shown that children’s centers in England are being shut down due to lack of funds despite being beneficial to poor children.
The UK Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) released the results of a study about Sure Start, a government initiative that is geared toward parents and their children. Sure Start centers offer services that promote the health, education and welfare, and emotional progress of children, especially in poor communities. The centers also give advice to parents regarding childcare and employment.
The IFS study sought to determine what impact Sure Start centers had on the health of children. The study revealed that between 1999 and 2011, Sure Start centers helped significantly reduce the number of hospitalizations for children up to 11 years old.
Having access to the health services provided by Sure Start centers kept children from needing to be hospitalized for infections or injuries. Education given to parents about childrearing, children’s health and safety, and ways to improve children’s behavior also helped lower the rate of hospitalizations.
However, although the study revealed that Sure Start centers benefit children tremendously, it also found that funding for the centers has been dwindling. From having over $2 billion worth of funding in 2009, Sure Start’s budget has decreased by two-thirds since 2010. This resulted in around 500 centers closing down between 2011 and 2017.
An IFS researcher said that with decreasing funds, local authorities should determine where the centers can make a world of difference. She proposed that limited resources should be allocated to the construction of centers in the most destitute areas.