Continuing cuts and funding changes from central government are forcing the council to make some changes to the way children’s centres are run in the borough. The consultation will set out the proposed changes and ask residents to have their say on them.
The council has had its budget cut by more than half since 2010 and the government’s changes to the Dedicated Schools Grant mean that the council has £1.4 million less a year to spend on children’s centres.
Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, Deputy Leader of the Council (Children and Young People), said: “In Lambeth, we really value early years services and know that they make a vital difference in supporting young children to grow and develop. This is especially true for children who come from the poorest backgrounds.
“That’s why to date we’ve done all we can to protect our twenty-three children’s centres, one of the highest numbers of any London borough, despite eight years of government cuts.
“But the government’s cuts and changes to the grant have put us in an impossible situation and we are being forced to make some changes.
“However, despite the scale of the challenge, our proposals is to keep 18 centres open across the borough. Our proposals ensure that every part of our borough has a network of excellent local centres that can provide support to families and they retain our commitment to giving every child in Lambeth the best start in life.”
The council’s proposals will see children’s centres reorganised into six groups by area in the borough, with one centre being the lead for each area.
The proposed centres are:
- 11 core children’s centres offering a full programme of activities every morning and afternoon throughout the week. Services available will include health visiting services, stay and play, crèches, parenting support and adult learning activities such as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes.
- 7 link centres that will be open every morning or afternoon and offer a range of children’s centre activities, including stay and play sessions and support for parents and families.
- The 18 centres will be grouped into six cluster areas, and in each cluster area there will be one lead provider responsible for delivering the services across the children’s centres. The lead provider will employ a team of staff including Better Start workers who will provide one to one support for families living in the area who need additional help.
For the five remaining centres, the council is working with schools and communities try and ensure that no building actually closes and that as many services as possible continue there, such as free childcare for eligible two-year-olds and free nursery places for three-year-olds.
You can find out more about these proposals and have your say by:
- Collecting a booklet from your centre – they are available in all 23 children’s centres in Lambeth
- Or going online – visit Lambeth.gov.uk/childrens-centres-consultation
The consultation closes on 10th February 2019.