A public consultation has begun on budget cuts to the county’s children’s centres, and closures haven’t been ruled out.
The county’s 39 children’s centres offer a wide range of health, personal and emotional support services for children, as well as activities and learning services. They also provide outreach centres to target vulnerable families and reduce inequality.
Because of Government spending cuts, the county council need to reduce its children’s centre budget by £2.3m, from £7.5m to £5.2m, by 2014-15. To do this the council is considering children’s centres share services, that some employees are made redundant, that fewer services and activities are offered, more fees for services and reduced opening hours.
There are also ideas that may provide the centres with a commercial income via venue hire and business support services like training and assessment.
Cllr Heather Timms, Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Families said: “We know Children’s Centres are important to local people, so we want to ensure we respond to the needs ofthose families who benefit most from pre-birth and early years support.
“Strong evidence supports the notion that experiences in the first five years of life shape us as adults so we need to get support to children at the right time, in the right place, to give them the best possible start in life. Our proposals do save money, but they also present a fined Early Years Offer which combines social, health and education services to offer an holistic approach and make the money we will continue to invest work harder.”
After the current consultation, a set of recommendations to the council’s cabinet will be made in September. Anyone effected by the proposals have until Tuesday August 27 to get in touch with the council and there is also a public consultation on Tuesday July 9 at Rugby college in Technology Drive between 6pm and 8pm.