Is Tarvin Children's Centre to Close?

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Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) has launched a consultation on "de-registering" five of its least-used Children's Centres, including the Tarvin, Malpas, and Farndon Children's Centre which is based at Tarvin Community Centre.

What is a Children's Centre?

Children's Centres are intended to provide effective early childhood services for families and young children, particularly those who are recognised as being in most need of help and support. They are meant to bring together services such as health visiting, midwifery, employment services and adult learning, sometimes alongside child care and more targeted services for children and families.

CWaC's Children's Centre provision has the objectives of improving:

  • Readiness of children to thrive in school
  • Support for parents and their ability to meet their responsibilities
  • Parents' opportunity to develop personal skills, education and ability to get work
  • The development of healthy lifestyles for children
  • Parents' ability to keep their children safe, including when online
  • Children's chances of reaching their full potential and reduce inequality in their health and development

What is the Council now saying?

CWaC says that it is important to achieve these objectives in the most efficient way possible and to make maximum use of those buildings and facilities which are well used by families. In the current economic climate, it is vital that the Council has a model for service delivery which is sustainable in the long term. It wants resources to be more focused on actual services for children and less on buildings and other overhead costs.

Proposal

The Children's Centre Programme in Cheshire West and Chester has developed a proposal for change of use and de-registration of five Children's Centres including Tarvin's

"De-registration" means that Children's Centres would not be subject to an Ofsted inspection and would move to be available for broader community use. This could include buildings being given back to schools to enable them to extend their provision for children.

What information has CWaC used in making these proposals?

  • Information collected about attendance usage at each children's centre
  • Information collected about registration rates at each children's centre
  • Compliments and complaints
  • Information about levels of deprivation and levels of need at each children's centre

The proposals being consulted upon are designed to deliver annual savings of at least £162,000 (not through reduced staffing levels) whilst retaining a wide service coverage across the Borough.
These savings will be achieved from transferring running costs of buildings to different managing organisations (e.g.schools), reducing some delivered activities, administration, management and accommodation costs.

Why is the Tarvin, Malpas and Farndon Centre on the list?

Children and families with multiple and complex needs in the footprint are less acute and the needs of communities can be met from other mainstream sources
Generally access to services by children and families is low as consistently communities have not used the Centres to access activity, choosing instead to access support from alternative buildings or pay for early years play activity from the private sector and have their Health needs met via their GP and Health Visiting services
There are clearly identified alternative uses for the building where children and family services can be delivered by other organisations through different commissioning arrangements (for example NHS services commissioned with different building management)
The Centre's location is inaccessible to many families within the footprint and outreach-based provision is poorly attended

Consultation and Decision

This consultation will be running over a 12 week period until 28th October 2014. Once the consultation finishes the outcomes of the consultation will be made available at www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/consultations.
Feedback information will also be available at the local Children's Centre.
A final decision about the future of the Centres will be taken by the Executive of the Council in March 2015 following full consideration of the consultation findings.

Two questionnaires are available online (go to the above web address and under the list of Current Council consultations look for Children's centres consultation) :

  • a public questionnaire aimed at parents/carers
  • a stakeholder/professional questionnaire aimed at professionals involved in service delivery, local councillors etc

You can also email childrenstrustwest@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk with your views

If you are, or expect to be in the future, a parent, grandparent, carer or child-minder looking after small children in the Tarvin area, you may want to express your view about this proposal, or to find out more

Ed: A local consultation will take place at the Tarvin Community Centre on Thursday 11th September from 9 am to 5 pm and again on Friday 12th September from 4 pm to 9 pm.