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Now services for young children are to be targeted:
SIDMOUTH: Children’s centre could face closure
30th April 2014
by Jack Dixon
SIDMOUTH Children’s Centre could face closure as Devon County Council continues to make cost-cutting measures.
The town’s youth centre is already under review with changes at the library also proposed, and the Sure Start centre has now been added to the list of public services highlighted for cutbacks. The centre currently provides early childhood services for families during pregnancy, birth and in the early years of a child’s life up to the age of five. Action for Children, which runs the centre on behalf of the council, also provides advice and guidance for parents about how to access additional services.
But following a public consultation lasting until June, the county authority could decide to close the centre and gear services towards those most in need.
Mandy Lane, Operational Lead at the centre, said: “Parenting is a life-changing time and we know that families are more mobile now and tend not to be living close to a small network of friends and relatives. The centre provides that network and helps people to socialise with others – it can normalise things as a parent. We are very well supported by Devon County Council in general and they have always been pro-children’s centres – some counties have already wiped their centres. But the proposals will mean a change in services and what families are able to access, and centres could be identified for closure so that front line staff can be kept.”
The council is proposing to keep children’s centre buildings only in the most deprived areas and instead look to transfer some buildings for use by other early childhood services, such as pre-schools. Centre opening times could also be reduced and options for outsourcing services to other providers in the local community will be considered.
Councillor James McInnes, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Children and Young People’s Services, said: “We remain fully committed to delivering high quality, multi-agency services for children under five, and particularly to those families in greatest need. And we will continue to support the delivery of local services, either directly from children’s centres or through a range of outreach services. But given the current financial situation things simply cannot stay the same and we have to think again about the best way to provide this support to families for less money. Clearly some efficiencies can be made in the way we contract for these services but this review offers a genuine opportunity not only to protect children’s centres into the future but also to redesign current services to better meet local needs across the county, including in rural areas.”
The consultation ends on June 6th and a final recommendation will be considered by Cabinet on July 9th. Full details of the proposals can be found at www.devon.gov.uk/toughchoices
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The same story is covered in the latest Herald:
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Here is the consultation page from the County:
Children’s Centres provide early childhood services for all families during pregnancy, birth and until a child is five years old. These services are delivered in partnership with Health, Adult Learning and Job Centre Plus and may be delivered at a Children’s Centre, in a community building or in families’ homes. Families may also be given advice and guidance to find and access services elsewhere.
Children’s Centre Services are a key way for Devon to meet its legal duties and will continue to:
- Give information and advice to parents, carers and expectant parents.
- Provide health services (in partnership with health), for children, parents, carers and expectant parents; and encourage the development of healthy lifestyles.
- Support children to develop by engaging in play, early education and learning with their parents. The aim being to prepare children for school.
- Help children reach their full potential and reduce inequality in their health and development.
- Support parents in their ability to meet their responsibilities and keep their children safe.
- Help parents to develop personal skills and access education and employment.
They are also at the heart of delivering Devon’s Early Help Strategy and Targeted Families Programme.
Devon doesn’t require a set number of Children’s Centres. We just need to make sure we provide enough for all families with young children, and that we continue to offer support for those families in greatest need.
We know that Children’s Centre Services are important to families in Devon. Devon County Council and its partners remain committed and will continue to deliver high-quality Children Centre Services to improve the lives of all young children and families, including those families in greatest need. However, given the money we have available the way Children’s Centre Services are delivered in Devon can’t stay the same.
To protect these services, we need to think about the best way of providing them for less money, even if this means change.
We need your help
We are consulting on these proposals until 6 June 2014. We are keen to hear the views and ideas of a wide range of people and to learn about the potential impact that these proposals may have on you, your family and friends and your local community.
This consultation closes on Friday 6 June 2014.
Children's centre services | Help shape your local services
Tough Choices | Help shape your local services