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East Belfast Sure Start


Aims, Outcomes and Principles

The aims of Sure Start are to improve:

  • the ability to learn by encouraging stimulating play, improving language skills and the early identification and support of children with learning difficulties;
  • health by supporting parents in caring for children and promoting children's health and development;
  • social development by supporting the development of early relationships between parents and children, good parenting skills, family functioning and early identification and support of children with emotional learning or behavioural difficulties.


The key principles of Sure Start are to:

  • co-ordinate, streamline and add value to existing services for young families in local communities, including signposting to specialised services;
  • involve parents;
  • avoid stigma;
  • ensure lasting support;
  • be sensitive to particular families' needs;
  • promote participation of all local families.


Sure Start programmes have been designed specifically to reflect and respond to local needs.  For that reason, each Sure Start project is unique in terms of the services it provides and the manner in which it provides them.  There are, however, six core elements which must feature in any Sure Start programme. These are:


  • Outreach and home visiting services, to make contact as early as possible in a child's life and draw families into using other services;
  • Family support including befriending, social support and parenting information, both group and home based;
  • Good quality play, learning and childcare experiences for children (both group and home based);
  • Primary and community health care support;
  • Speech language and communication support;
  • Support for all children in the community recognising their differing needs.


Sure Start does not itself provide specialist services, projects need to ensure that their services are accessible to all families in the designated area.


The Expected Policy Outcomes of Sure Start are:

  • Improved language skills.
  • Early identification of developmental delay.
  • Improved access to services.
  • Enhanced parenting skills.
  • Effectively integrated services. 
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