ALL CHILDREN’S CENTRES PUT UNDER THREAT
Campaigners call council’s closure proposals ‘short-sighted’
CAMPAIGNERS have hit out at sweeping plans that put all of the county’s children’s centres at risk of closure.
Bucks County Council (BCC) has put forward proposals that would see nine Early Help hubs replace the 35 centres that exist in Buckinghamshire. BCC is looking at ways of streamlining and improving their ap- proach to supporting early help services for children and families and is halfway through a public consultation.
But health campaigner Ozma Hafiz said: “Well established places like children’s centres are key in helping people access early help and support in order to prevent issues escalating.
“Once again it is the most vulnerable who will be affected by these decisions.
“It is becoming clearer that the driver behind these decisions is a short-sighted financial one. Barriers in accessing help can amongst other things result in more expense later on. Stripping the community of vital assets is completely unacceptable. Children’s centres should remain open in their familiar, easily accessible locations.”
Linda Derrick said: “It’s not just about Children’s Centres. BCC propose to combine all services for children and young people, close all the buildings, cut the budget and contract the lot out.
“Out the window goes all the work
Our tax payers need to have confidence in how we are spending our money wisely on those who are most in need
in improving children’s services for the last three years. And when BCC contracted out some of the adult social services it had to cover nearly £3 million of debt.”
BCC cabinet member for children’s services Warren Whyte said: “We’re here to support those children and families who need us the most and we know that our current early help services like children’s centres are not doing this.
“We need to change that. We can’t continue to provide services for all when there are other organisations that provide this type of family support widely across the county.
“Our tax payers need to have confidence in how we are spending money wisely on those who are most in need.
“Developing a new early help service is about targeting services for children and families in a better way to those who need help the most and going out to where families are – not reducing services for these families.
“We want to work with the whole family as we know that when there is a problem in a family it affects everyone, not just individuals.
“This will include helping with things like parenting worries, tackling behavioural issues with their children, money worries, relationship breakdowns and being out of work.
“It will inevitably mean changes to existing services but will also mean better use of other local community facilities and a more flexible service able to respond to children and family needs.
“We’re out to consultation with an open mind and will welcome everyone’s views or opinions – so that together we can find the best solutions.
“We are listening and have extended the consultation to 16 October, providing more detail so that people have as much information as possible and can respond fully.
“I’d encourage you to have your say and help us shape the very best services for children and their families for the future.” The following services will be affected by the plans:
Bucks Family Information Service
Advice and support for young people through Connexions (Adviza)
Early Help coordinators
Support for children who have lived with Domestic Violence
Support for parents through Barnardo’s
Young carers support