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(1)An English local authority must establish and maintain a service providing information, advice and assistance in accordance with this section.
(2)The service must provide to parents or prospective parents information which is of a prescribed description and relates to any of the following—
(a)the provision of childcare in the area of the local authority;
(b)any other services or facilities, or any publications, which may be of benefit to parents or prospective parents in their area;
(c)any other services or facilities, or any publications, which may be of benefit to children or young persons in their area.
(3)In prescribing information for the purpose of subsection (2), the Secretary of State must have regard to the needs of the parents of disabled children or young persons for information relating to—
(a)the provision of childcare which is suitable for disabled children, and
(b)other services or facilities, or publications, which may be of particular benefit to the parents of disabled children or young persons or to disabled children or young persons.
(4)The service may, in addition to providing information which it is required to provide under subsection (2), provide information relating to any of the matters mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (c) of that subsection to such persons as the local authority consider appropriate.
(5)The service must provide advice and assistance to parents or prospective parents who use, or propose to use, childcare provided in the area of the local authority.
(6)The service must be established and maintained in the manner which is best calculated to facilitate access to the service by persons in the local authority's area who may benefit from it, including, in particular, persons who might otherwise have difficulty in taking advantage of the service.
(7)In exercising their functions under this section, a local authority must have regard to any guidance given from time to time by the Secretary of State.
(8)For the purposes of this section, a child or young person is disabled if he has a disability for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (c. 50).
(9)In this section—
“parent” means a parent of a child or young person and includes any individual who—
has parental responsibility for a child, or
has care of a child;
“prospective parent” means a pregnant woman or any other person who is likely to become, or is planning to become, a parent;
“young person” means a person who has attained the age of 18 but has not attained the age of 20.
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