Consultation Starts on Children’s Centre Proposals

11th August 2017
from County Cllr Peter Hudson

At last month’s Parish Council meeting, I was asked for details on the proposed transformation of children services and agreed that as soon as I had FULL details of the plan I will let them know.  I had hoped to get this into the Longstanton Life, but the deadline was way before the full details became available.  However as with all County Council Consultations, a link to this consultation was placed on the Parish Council Web Site as is all my monthly reports.

A consultation to redesign Children’s Centre Services has gone live, which aims to ensure every child thrives in Cambridgeshire.   Families can read more about the consultation at http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/childrenscentreconsultation and share their views.

The wide ranging plans, from Cambridgeshire County Council, propose to create ‘family friendly’ services in the heart of communities. It builds on the current offer, offering support to families of all ages, from expectant parents to young adults. The proposals look to deliver the same level of services but in a more local way, so those families can access them easily.

The new children centre services will be more flexible and tailored for each community delivered in places they know or already use, and in doing so, the Council will make savings of £1 million.   The proposals will also see Children’s Centres work more closely with parents and health professionals to provide a set of integrated services that seamlessly support communities. This service could include health visitors, midwifery and speech therapists. The new approach includes:

  • 10 Child and Family Centres, delivered across 15 buildings, that will continue to offer services in places of high need with extended opening hours, with skilled staff able to meet families needs
  • 12 Child and Family Zones – these will use community spaces, such as libraries and community centres, to deliver a range of services, including baby and toddler groups, activities for families with disabilities and places for community groups to meet.
  • Outreach Programme – The Child and Family Centres workforce will deliver support across a range of community venues so families, particularly in rural locations, can access a regular programme of services and responsive support.
  • Online Offer – there will be a comprehensive online offer to provide information and advice to help and support families.

Local impact depending on the consultation – Longstanton, along with Over and Bar Hill, are served by a centre currently based on the site of Bar Hill Primary School. The site is located in an area of low need.  Depending on the result of the consultation, the proposals are that Child and Family provision will be delivered via outreach not only in Bar Hill, but in Longstanton and Over too as a number of good community spaces are available in the area.  This means that the level of service stays the same, but is conducted more within the community it serves. The savings are made by only hiring local community spaces when needed.  A drop-in has been arranged at Bar Hill Community Centre on the 6th Sept. 1700 – 1900 hrs where staff can explain and answer questions.  An extra new family Zone is being proposed as part of the Primary Care programme for Northstowe.

The Chair of the Children and Young People Committee said, “The welfare of our families across Cambridgeshire must be a top priority. They have told us that Children Centre Services are not always in places where they are needed most.  We want to change this to ensure we have the right services, support and opportunities available for families if and when they need us.  This is the right time to be setting out our proposals as we need to make sure that these key services are able to meet the challenges of the future. However, we cannot shape these services without your views. Local people are the experts on their communities and know what is needed where they live. Whatever your views, we would welcome your feedback by inviting you to take part in our consultation.”

The consultation ends on 22 September 2017. Hard copy versions of the consultation can be found at Children Centres and Libraries. Frontline staff will also be at a range of events across the summer. Details of these events can be found on: http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/childrenscentreconsultation

Decisions relating to the final proposals for Children’s Centre Services will be taken by the Children and Young People Committee when it meets in the autumn. Members of the public are encouraged attend.

Due to previous transformation programmes, the GPC (Executive) Committee on the 25th July was able to authorise an extra £2.7 million be put into Children Services to help the Looked after Children programme.   More backroom money into frontline services.