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Education Minister Peter Weir has welcomed the resumption of all Sure Start services.

The Executive has agreed that all remaining Sure Start parental services can reopen on a face-to-face basis from 24 May. These include services attended by parents/ families such as parenting programmes, ante-natal support, outdoor physical activity and child developmental programmes.

Home based support will also restart, as will support from midwives, health visitors and speech and language therapists.

Peter Weir said: “COVID has created many pressures on families and it is clear that these pressures are having greatest impact where disadvantage already exists.

Many families have no other family support and attendance at Sure Start groups is their ‘lifeline’. That’s why I focussed on the full resumption of services. This will allow dedicated Sure Start staff to resume the vital support which families in Sure Start areas depend upon.”

Restart arrangements in Sure Start will apply to all targeted Early Years interventions funded by the Department including the Pathway Fund and Toybox project.

The Minister continued: “The full reopening of services will allow Sure Start to provide support to parents whose mental health and wellbeing may have been impacted due to lockdown.

“By providing support to parents, Sure Start in turn enables parents to support the education and health of their children.

“In light of the impact of the pandemic on many families and to help support communities to recover, I have increased the budget for Sure Start in 2021/22 by £2.3million.”