15 Nov 2017, Katy Morton
A decision on the proposal, which was outlined in Buckinghamshire County Council’s consultation that closed on 16 October, is expected in January.
If the plans, which would save the council over £3 million, are given the go ahead it will mean all of the county’s 35 children’s centres are replaced with nine ‘Early Help bases' providing more targeted support to families most in need.
According to the council, there is not currently a consistent service across the county, some children’s centres are not in the right places and they only provide services for families with children under the age of five.
The ‘Early Help bases’ would be located in areas where they are needed the most. Some could be run from existing children’s centre buildings or in other local community venues such as schools or village halls. Families would be invited to activities or one-to-one support delivered by the bases which will also be used to offer group sessions. There would be no drop-in services.
The council says the aim of the ‘Early Help bases’ will be to bring together professionals working with children and families in the ‘early stages of a problem’.
Earlier in the week, parents from the campaign group ‘Save Buckinghamshire Children’s Centres’ staged a protest against the cuts outside Buckinghamshire County Council offices.
The campaign group has also launched a petition calling on the council to keep all 35 children’s centres open. The petition has so far received 2,454 signatures.
A comment on the petition under reasons for signing says, ‘Because we would have been lost without a friendly face, a warm welcome and a you’re doing great – keep going’, all of which the lovely environment of a children’s centre provides.'
The council has been asked for a comment.