Council children’s centres that are proposed to remain open and those to close have been named by Nottingham City Council as it seeks partners to run services and embarks on further consultation on this budget proposal.
Already eight of the 17 children’s centres in Nottingham are operated by schools, which are not affected by this proposal. The council is looking for new organisations, schools or community groups to deliver services in children’s centres – with positive feedback already from providers and schools about their willingness to take on and run some of the centres, including some proposed for closure.
The City Council is seeking to close a £28m funding gap in 2022/23, largely due to the continued reduction in central Government funding for the Council, the unmet costs of Covid spending, and the increased demand and cost of statutory services including Children and Adults Social Care services. This is squeezing the funding available for other council services.
One proposal is to reduce the number of children’s centres it runs from nine to four centres – changed from three initially following the first round of consultation. The centres proposed to remain open are Broxtowe, Hyson Green, Meadows and Southglade (Bestwood/Top Valley). The centres proposed for closure, unless another provider can be found, are Aspley (Amesbury Circus), Aspley (Minver Crescent), Bilborough, Bulwell and Sneinton.
These centres have been earmarked based on considerations including offering the greatest level of service provision with a focus on areas of high need where possible; how partners like the health service can deliver their work alongside the council; the size and capacity of existing children’s centres; and ensuring a high level of the city population can access a centre within 30 minutes via public transport.
As well as looking to partners to run services from venues the council can no longer run, the proposals would introduce a new citywide Early Help offer. The citywide offer will be delivered through a hub and spoke model, including face-to-face sessions delivered both within the remaining children’s centres and also in community venues across the city. There will be an increase in delivery of services via virtual media for families who choose to access services this way.
Universal services available will include midwifery, 0-19 Public Health Nursing service, day care provision and community services, while targeted services will include Early Help, CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services), Parenting, Behavioural and Emotional Health and Healthy Little Minds service. Meanwhile Early Help teams will focus on brief family and child development assessments, and group sessions supporting child development, parenting and healthy relationships. Building on experiences from the pandemic, virtual services will also play a role.
Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, Cllr Cheryl Barnard, said: “This is an incredibly difficult proposal to put forward – we know how important the services are to people who attend children’s centres, which is why we are aiming to protect as much of the service provision as possible. We remain strongly committed to supporting families at the earliest opportunity and we will work with partners and communities across Nottingham to do this. The proposals ensure that 86% of likely service users are within 30 minutes of a centre by public transport or 43% are within 20 minutes’ walk of a centre.
“We have received positive feedback from providers and schools about their willingness to take on and run some of the centres proposed for closure. We are keen to talk to any partner organisations that would like to run a children’s centre in our place – or to take on centres that we propose to retain, as this would enable us to keep a different centre open.
“It’s important to remember that these plans remain proposals and not decisions. We want to hear from parents, carers and providers affected by the proposals – things are not set in stone and could change as a result of feedback.”
The second phase consultation on the proposals will run from 28th February to 22nd April 2022.
Details and links can be found at https://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/engage-nottingham-hub/open-consultations/children-s-centres-second-phase-consultation/ For any queries about the consultation process please contact firstname.lastname@example.org