SureStart Centers. Do They Matter?
The SureStart centers are reoccuring in the news recently. Under the 'SureStart' banner, it seems, falls things like the breastfeeding cafes and other schemes such as 'BookStart', both of which I have utilised at least once in my 15 months as a parent.
As a new mum my nearest 'breastfeeding cafe' was in a desperately deprived area of London. I didn't go for long as the sessions were geared at those the government would class as 'most needy' but the other mums there were always engrossed, asked questions, and actually sometimes just looked relieved.
While I understand that we need to save money, and appreciate that we should not expect everything for nothing, I was really pleased recently when the “BookStart” scheme was threatened with closure, but due to public reaction was at least partially preserved. It's not that I think the free book makes much of a difference, but I know for a fact that the BookStart Sessions do.
In a BookStart session the leaders read a group of children a story, sing songs with them, and with the older children do a bit of an craft project. The children were engaged, they were active, and they were learning. And the mothers rested, for that hour. No lattes, no cake, no glass of wine. Just sitting, resting. Sometimes talking to other mums, other times just having the much needed break, that makes you a better mother when you walk out those doors.
I also attended another mums group in Putney, with mums who didn't have to work, and lunched together and paid over £100 a month for their membership to this group – my short membership was a birthday gift. The facilities, the sessions, the teas and the luxuries didn't encourage these mums to rush to the BookStart sessions. So while there might be a few 'sharp elbowed” people taking all they can get, I don't believe this is the norm.
You might ask, why should 'we' be paying for mothers to have a break, or to have help with basic mothering skills?
I read a great quote the other day.
“Each of us must come to care about everyone else’s children. We must recognize that the welfare of our children is intimately linked to the welfare of all other people’s children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else’s child will perform it. If one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else’s child will be responsible for the violent act. The good life for our own children can be secured only if a good life is also secured for all other people’s children.” -
Dr. Lilian G. Katz, professor of early childhood education.
That answers the question for me.
But I'd love to know – what impact, if any, do you think these cuts will have on society as we know it?
TOPICS: News and Recalls