Sure Start is a targeted programme supporting children under the age of four, and their families, living in the most disadvantaged areas in Northern Ireland. Sure Start projects deliver a wide variety of services which are designed to enhance children’s learning skills, health and well-being, and social and emotional development.

Sure Start Outcomes

Sure Start contributes to the achievement of draft Programme for Government (PfG) Outcomes, particularly “We give our children the best start in life”.

Information relating to the outcomes achieved by Sure Start projects can be accessed via the links below.

The Report Card is aligned to the five Sure Start policy outcomes for children and families which are:

Improved language skills; early identification of developmental delay; improved access to services; enhanced parenting skills; and effectively integrated Services.

Key Sure Start Statistics

Infographics containing key Sure Start statistical data may be accessed via the link below.

Sure Start partnerships information

Follow the links below to the nidirect website where information is published on the services that Sure Start partnerships provide and also lists of the Sure Start partnerships.


Circular 2017/10 - School Census - Sure Start Data Collection 2017/18 supersedes DE circular number 2015/20 providing updated information and highlighting the requirement and context for schools to record data electronically, utilising the C2k School Information Management System (SIMS), relating to Sure Start as part of annual school census data collection exercises.

Review of Sure Start

Independent Review of DE Targeted Early Years Interventions

ETI Sure Start Evaluation Report May 2018

The ETI carried out an evaluation of Sure Start between January and March 2018.  The focus of the evaluation was linked directly to one of the expected policy outcomes and a key aim of Sure Start projects, namely the improvement of children’s language skills.

ETI Sure Start Evaluation Report June 2019

The ETI conducted a further evaluation of Sure Start in 2019.  The key themes are how children and parents are supported to develop speech, language and communication skills, the quality of support for parents, the development of the home learning environment and partnerships working between Sure Start projects and pre-school settings.

ETI Sure Start Evaluation Report February 2020

Evaluation of Improving Practice in Sure Start

This evaluation focuses on how Sure Start projects use self-evaluation to bring about improvement in the quality of provision and outcomes for children and parents. It builds on the two previous evaluations of Sure Start by the ETI.

ETI Sure Start Evaluation Report February 2020

ETI Sure Start Evaluation Report September 2021

Thematic Report on Sure Starts’ planning, delivery and monitoring of services to children and families during COVID-19

This evaluation report focuses on how effectively Sure Starts’ responded and adapted the planning, delivery and monitoring of services to children and families in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the period from March 2020 to March 2021.

ETI Sure Start Evaluation Report September 2021

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