Warwickshire County Council voted today (29 November 2017) to proceed with plans to redesign services for Warwickshire children and their families.
In a meeting earlier this month (9 November), Cabinet voted in favour of proposals to offer services at 14 children and family centres with local community outreach opportunities. It also accepted proposals to increase the age range of family support from 0-5 years, up to 19 years (25 with disabilities). The remaining children’s centres would no longer be retained for use as children’s centres by the Council.
Full Council met this morning to discuss whether money from the council’s reserves could be used to keep all existing children’s centres open in the short term. This was rejected.
Commenting on the outcome, Cllr Jeff Morgan, portfolio holder for Children’s Services, said:
”We have been working on a transformation plan for children’s centres for three years. This is not a sudden approach.
“The proposals for the redesign of Children’s Centres are based on extensive research and consultation to give us the clear view of what our residents actually need and where they need it. One of the key things we have learnt is that there are many families who are simply not getting the support they need from what is currently on offer. By extending our offer to include children over five and families,and maintaining family support workers we are investing in people not buildings.
“We have to act now – we cannot avoid making difficult decisions. If we continue to simply patch things over, and not take a more fundamental approach to transforming services, we will quickly be in a situation where there is no planned future for those sites that we will not be taking on ourselves.
“Where we are not proposing to retain current provisions, we are working with the providers to consider any possible options including them or other partners such as schools or community groups taking on the running of the service.”
Following a period of transition with current children’s centre providers, it is expected that the new model will implemented by 1 October 2019.