All families urged to be part of children’s services consultation

Warwickshire County Council is having a final push to involve all parents and carers during the last few days of a consultation to redesign its services for children and families.

There are around 31,500 children under 5 in the county. These children and their families have different backgrounds, different preferences, and different needs. Many services for this age range are currently offered at 39 children’s centres around the county but not all families have used them.

An ongoing public consultation from the council is proposing that these services are offered in different ways; it seeks to use decreasing resources in the most effective ways to deliver the right support at the right time to the people who need it most.

To ensure it can do this most effectively, the council needs to hear from as many people as possible with an interest in, or a requirement for these services -particularly parents and carers of children who may not have previously used children’s centres or those for whom English is not their first language.

The proposals suggest ways the council can work with families, professionals and communities to provide an even wider range of services than are currently available at children’s centres. One of the proposals is to do some of this through family hubs which will provide key services for children, young people up to 19 years of age (25 years of age with additional needs) and their families from one place.

Proposals to change the way these services are provided prioritise flexible, effective support and outreach activities over buildings which will allow the council to save £1.12m from current budgets.

The consultation document and a link to the online survey is available at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/familyhubsconsultation. The webpage also has information to help people understand more about the proposals and address any misunderstandings around the process and purpose of the consultation.

Cllr Jeff Morgan, portfolio holder for Children’s Services, said:

“The current public consultation asks people to tell us what they value most and invites individuals and community groups to put forward their ideas. We believe a more flexible model, fit for the future will do more for more people and meet their evolving needs.

“Buildings are expensive to maintain and we know that the way people access services is changing, so our proposals look at managing a financial saving whilst modernising our approach to helping all families in Warwickshire.

“We know there are a large number of families we need to reach who don’t currently use children’s centres so we are particularly keen to hear from them to find out more about the barriers to using services currently. Similarly, we wish to engage with families and groups where English is not their first language. We want the response to consultation to be as representative as possible of Warwickshire communities to guide our decision making later this year.”

The service redesign proposals in this consultation only concern buildings currently used as children’s centres and will not affect pre-schools, libraries or other linked buildings. However, the council is interested in hearing from other organisations and community groups about how services for under-5s could be delivered and their future location.

The consultation is live until 11 September at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/familyhubsconsultation.

To request a paper copy or make an appointment to speak to an officer, call 01926 742350. Emails can be sent to familyhubs@warwickshire.gov.uk .

Comments and responses in other languages will be accepted. Interpreting service can be accessed, if required.