Two councils outline deep cuts to children's centres

Two local authorities have outlined plans to cut millions of pounds from their children's centres budgets.

Leicester City Council has proposed cuts to the range of services delivered in its 23 children's centres in a bid to save £4m. There will also be "significant" cuts to staff numbers.

Kirklees Council has also published plans to cut its children's centres in an effort to save £10m.

In Leicester, 12 centres will continue as council-run services, and will offer public health services including health visiting and school nursing. The running of the remaining 11 centres is yet to be decided, but the council states it will look at transferring them to external organisations such as childcare providers.

Family support services will no longer be universal, with provision being targeted at those most in need, while parenting groups, which offer support for parenting, smoking cessation and health and safety, will drop from two classes per week to one.

The council has also proposed cutting stay and play sessions, which encourage child development and school readiness, from five to two sessions a week.

Meanwhile, Kirklees Council has drawn up plans to replace its children's centres with four central hubs, along with four designated children's centres and 13 other sites, according to a cabinet report by the council.

The four hubs will become children's centre and youth centre buildings, and will offer a "whole family" approach to children and adults.

The council has said that services will become targeted in order to reduce demand for high-cost social care further down the line.

"The existing children centre workforce will no longer be available to provide low-level one-to-one support to families. Support will be targeted at those with multiple vulnerabilities and those who need support in preventing their problems from escalating," the document states.

Children's centre services will not necessarily be delivered by the council, it states, but from other sites including clinics, pre-school settings, schools and community facilities.

The council will also "expect communities to do more for themselves", and will train and support volunteers to deliver services.

Erin Hill, cabinet member for family support and child protection, said the council's new offer could see services run from someone's home.

"Our vision is to work across Kirklees with partners and communities to support people to plan ahead, stay well and have support when they need it. That could be in a council-run building, a community centre, school or someone's own home," she said.

"The reality is that the council spends a lot of money on maintaining buildings, and we want to prioritise spending on people instead, focusing on the areas of highest need."

A consultation is expected to run in Kirklees from 27 September until 22 November.

Leicester City Council's consultation closes on 6 December.

Story courtesy of CYP Now

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