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New book offers insight into developing services for young people

In a new book, Providing a Sure Start, Naomi Eisenstadt, former director of the Sure Start Unit and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford explains the history of the programme, its benefits and pitfalls, demonstrating the need for effective services for young people.

Alongside Naomi’s unique perspective the book features interviews with former ministers and advisers, including David Blunkett, Tessa Jowell, Yvette Cooper, Catherine Ashton, Margaret Hodge, Estelle Morris and Beverley Hughes.

Providing a Sure Start explains what ministers at the time hoped Sure Start would achieve, and what they now feel were the key successes and shortcomings of the project. It offers lessons for the future for early years services, including the importance and cost of quality, the leadership challenges of running multi-agency services at neighbourhood level, the tensions between what local people want from a service and what evidence tells us works, and the challenges of moving from innovation to mainstream service delivery.

Naomi Eisenstadt received a grant from the Nuffield Foundation to help with her research costs.

Providing a Sure Start: How government discovered early childhood by Naomi Eisenstadt is published by The Policy Press on 28 September 2011 price £21.99 paperback (ISBN 9781847427298).

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We improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in EducationWelfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We offer our grant-holders the freedom to frame questions and enable new thinking. Our research must stand up to rigorous academic scrutiny, but we understand that to be successful in effecting change, it also needs to be relevant to people’s experience.