Save our Childrens' Centres: Child service ‘safe’ says council
COUNCIL bosses have moved to reassure parents that cuts to the children’s centres budget will not mean an end of the service.
A consultation looking at plans to reshape the provision for the 14 centres is running until tomorrow. It is proposed to steer the priority of funding towards vulnerable children.
But families who fall outside that category will not be turned away from sessions, according to Councillor Fionuala Foley, cabinet member for children’s services.
“There will be no child excluded from the stay and play sessions,” said Coun Foley, who added voluntary groups already running or new ones in the future would be able to use the buildings.
Council leader David Renard said when the papers were first being discussed in February the fundamental principle was that money should follow the vulnerable children.
Under Ofsted’s framework a council will be awarded an outstanding marking only if it cares for 85 per cent of its vulnerable families. But Coun Renard said he wants the council to be reaching 100 per cent of them.
Cash will be allocated for the provision of the vulnerable, which includes families in poverty, lone parents, troubled families and people identified as being at risk of harm.
However, if other parents want to come along that will be up to each provider to decide if they can cater for them.
“The employees say they can all work together and it will really benefit them,” said Joy Kennard, service manager of strategy and commissioning for children.
Butterflies, in Abbey Meads, is the only centre which will benefit from a funding increase. It currently receives £128,982 – that figure will go up to £225,547.
Saplings and Ladybird will have its funding cut from £240 920 to £175,379.
The authority needs to make savings from its centres of about £390,000 by its 2014/15 budget.
It is hoped there will be a push from the community to run groups for families.
“When I was bringing my children up every day of the week there was a different group on at churches, community centres. There was always something going on,” said Coun Renard.
Last week the Adver launched a campaign to save children’s centres from the proposed cuts.
To read background information on the consultation or give your views visit www.swindon.gov.uk/childrenscentre consultation
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