Lack of Funds Causing England’s Children’s Centers to Shut Down

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. gear / gɪər / (v) – to design or prepare something for a particular purpose or group of people

    The health program is geared toward reducing stress among the faculty.

  2. welfare / ˈwɛlˌfɛər / (n) – the happiness, health, success, etc. of a person

    The programs created by the government should be for the welfare of all its citizens.

  3. tremendously / trɪˈmɛn dəs li / (adv) – greatly or excellently

    The $1 billion donation helped the organization tremendously.

  4. make a world of difference / meɪk ə wɜrld əv ˈdɪf ər əns / (idiom) – to improve something greatly

    Free healthcare can make a world of difference to poor families.

  5. destitute / ˈdɛs tɪˌtut / (adj) – very poor

    The economic crisis left many families destitute.


Read the text below.

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.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the results of the study are enough to convince the government to increase funds for Sure Start? Why or why not?
• Aside from additional funding, what other measures can be done to ensure that Sure Start continues to provide much-needed services for children? Discuss.

Discussion B

• If you could start an initiative/project in your country that would benefit children, what would it be? Discuss.
• What kind of project/initiative should the government offer to parents in your country? Discuss.