Child health and well-being in the early years: the National Evaluation of Sure Start
The Labour election victory of May 1997 provided an opportunity to change policy. The intention was to place the improvement of people's lives at the centre of government strategy. The Government wanted to break the cycle whereby disadvantaged children repeated their parents' experiences of poor education, physical and mental ill-health, and poverty. At this time the notion of 'joined-up' services was in vogue, and Prime Minister Tony Blair commented in the Foreword to the first Comprehensive Spending Review of his tenure (Blair 1998) that 'We have looked at key problems across government. The old departmental boundaries often do not work. Provision for young children-health, childcare, support-will be co-ordinated across departments so that when children start school they are ready to learn.' Here we describe the development of the Sure Start Programme for children and report the findings of the national evaluation. This has been a key component of the Government's policy to breaking the cycle of deprivation.