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Labour's ten year strategy for childcare

Letter from Westminster - 13 December 2004

There has been good news for families in Bristol South recently, with the creation of two more children's centres, and Labour's ten year strategy for childcare.

Families in Knowle and Withywood are among the latest to benefit from improvements to the co-ordination, quantity and quality of services for young children through the establishment of children's centres at The Park and Four Acres. These centres will provide a range of joined-up services to children under five and their families, including early education integrated with childcare, health services, family support, a base for childminders and links with Jobcentre Plus. Labour aims to open up 2,500 children's centres by March 2008, a further thousand by 2010, working towards a children's centre in every community.

Our ten year strategy for childcare, unveiled during the recent Pre-Budget Report, builds on this by focusing on additional measures to help parents balance work and family life. An important part of this strategy is our proposal to extend paid maternity leave - to 39 weeks from April 2007, rising to twelve months leave by the end of the next Parliament. We also believe that affordable, flexible, high quality childcare should be available to all families with children up to the age of 14, so we are planning to provide an out of school childcare place between the hours of 8am and 6pm each weekday by 2010.

Giving every child the best possible start in life has been a major priority for this Labour Government ever since it was first elected. Given the ambitious programme we have just announced, I think this focus will, justifiably, continue for some time to come.

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