As part of a major reorganisation of children’s health and well-being services, Birmingham City Council is de-registering some of its children’s centres and moving the running of services to community venues.
It follows a public consultation during the summer which initially proposed closing 26 children’s centres. One of those saved from closure is Lakeside Children's Centre in Erdington.
Under the new arrangement, there will be 22 ‘early years’ hubs providing the full range of children’s centre services, but only 18 of these will meet the statutory criteria for what constitutes a children’s centre.
Each district in Birmingham will have a minimum of one ‘early years’ hub, with most concentrated in areas of the highest deprivation.
Children’s health and well-being services will also run from community venues, including community and leisure centres and church halls, of which 107 have been identified, while Well-Baby Clinics will take place in GP practices and medical centres.
Services will be delivered by Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHFT) in partnership with Barnardo’s, Spurgeons, St Paul’s Community Development Trust, and the Springfield Project.
Birmingham City Council said the new arrangement will be fairer than the current ‘patchwork of services’.
Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children, families and schools, said, ‘We were faced with huge budget cuts from central government that meant we had to make big changes to the service. Coupled with this was the need to address underperformance and inconsistency of our service; not enough children reach a good level of development by the time they start school and some of our most vulnerable children do not access services, or don’t get good enough support from them.
‘We've chosen to make the best of the budget we've got left by focusing on what the public told us matters most, which is staff and services rather than bricks and mortar. The result of this is our new community based model, with an increased range of access points going into areas we haven't reached before.
She added, ‘I have always been absolutely clear about the biggest reason we're changing and integrating our services: to improve outcomes for children and families. I just wish that the government had left us with the money to operate the service on the scale our families need.’