Children’s Centres – planning for the future
Councillors will consider plans for a consultation on proposals for delivering the city’s children’s centre service in future when they meet on Monday 16 November.
The consultation is planned to start on 17 November and will be available on the council’s on line portal and with paper copies in children’s centres. There will also be meetings with children’s centre users.
The proposals are based on the findings of a review board that includes parent and voluntary sector representatives as well as public health and NHS experts. The review has also taken into account the consultation the council conducted late last winter.
The review seeks to make sure that resources continue to be targeted at the children and parents in greatest need.
It proposes providing a balance of services such as baby groups that all families can access and services including home visits where appropriate for families in greatest need of intensive support.
The plans would see all the current 12 children’s centre buildings continuing to be used to deliver services. Seven would continue to be designated as children’s centres, and these would deliver outreach services to the other five sites. Other proposals include:
- Offering more parenting talks and discussion groups to reach more parents at an earlier stage
- Developing a city-wide ‘online children’s centre’ providing access to information and advice on services for families across the city.
Due to budget reductions from central government and increased demand for services the council has to make savings of some £68m in the coming years.
The council’s budget proposals for 2015/16 included a reduction in funding for children’s centres. Following a public consultation temporary funding for 2015/16 only of £670,000 was agreed in order to maintain services.
There is a proposal for a further saving of £176,000 as part of the 2016/17 budget proposals. If agreed the total reduction will be £846,000.
The chair of the council’s children, young people and skills committee, Councillor Tom Bewick, said: “The review makes clear that it will not be possible to provide the same level of services with the reduction in funding to the children’s centre budget.
“We need to deliver budget savings while making sure resources are targeted at the children and families who need them most.
"This means making difficult decisions about services that I know families value.
“I would encourage everyone to respond to the consultation so that the committee can take account of people’s views when we make decisions about the future of children’s centres in January.”
The proposals are to continue using the following seven children’s centres as main sites and designated children’s centres:
- Roundabout (Whitehawk)
- Hangleton Park
- Conway Court (in partnership with Sussex Community NHS Trust)
- Portslade (but with reduced opening hours).
The proposals are to merge the following children’s centres and to continue to use them as delivery points for services. These buildings will only open for children’s centre services when a service is running.
- The Deans (Rudyard Kipling primary school) – merge with Roundabout
- West Hove (West Hove infant school) – merge with Conway Court
- Hollingbury and Patcham (Carden primary school) – merge with Hollingdean
- City View (in partnership with Sussex Community NHS Trust) – merge with Tarner and / or Moulsecoomb
As part of the changes there will be a review of the existing City View catchment area to consider how it should be divided between Tarner and Moulsecoomb.
The proposal is that Cornerstone community centre will no longer be a children’s centre and the catchment area will merge with Tarner.
Cornerstone is not a council building. The Deans, West Hove and Hollingbury children’s centres are spaces within existing primary schools. The schools will of course not close.