[To be introduced by the Cabinet Member for Children and Families. Report of the Assistant Director for Commissioning]The purpose of this report is to provide Cabinet with details of proposals for the future delivery of Children’s Centre services , report back on initial engagement with stakeholders on the proposed model and seek approval to go out to statutory consultation with a final decision to be made by Cabinet in December 2015.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Families introduced the report which sought agreement to move to consultation on proposals for the future delivery of Children’s Centre services. This was part of the implementation of the Early Help strategy focused on children and young people aged 0-19 years old and their access to services.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Families highlighted the significant savings assigned to the Children’s Service as a whole and as part of this ,the smaller percentage, assigned to early years area .
The proposed model was based on providing early help through locality ,reach, and joining up with the existing neighbourhood learning communities designated by schools and providing support to children over fives .The model also included enhancement of the universal offer as there were a lot of children in need that were unable to access the Children’s Centres as seen through the work on the Healthy child policy implementation. There was a need to ensure targeted support was available, through Children’s Centres, in the most deprived areas of the borough.
There were 9 centres proposed for retention and the remaining 7 would be designated as community access point which the Council would endeavour to ensure provided access to ‘stay and play’. An attached map to the report illustrated the location points and access to surrounding services.
The proposals had been developed over recent months, including engagement with stakeholders, parents, carers, governors, head teachers and staff from across the Children’s Centre system and professional partners. The Cabinet Member for Children and Families was happy to meet with Children’s Centre users during the statutory consultation period. Following analysis of the consultation responses a report on the future operating model of the Children’s Centres would come forward to Cabinet in November.
The Leader pointed out that early years area had an indicative budget envelope and therefore the report to Cabinet in November would also take into consideration the outcomes of the planned government emergency budget as well as the consultation results.
In response to a question from Cllr Connor on ensuring safeguarding access leads at community access points, it was confirmed that all schools have a safeguarding lead and as many of the community access points are assigned to schools this responsibility would be met. The Cabinet Member for Children and Families would further ensure that all access points to childcare have a safeguarding lead.
Alternative Options considered
To retain the current model and number of Children’s Centres in Haringey as full service centres. This, however, cannot be achieved within the available budget.
To resource only those centres that will be delivering in our most disadvantaged areas and offering the of the full core offer to the most vulnerable families. The Council, however, is fully committed to a universal offer which reduces stigma and effectively enables access to targeted services for those most vulnerable families
To make a higher level of savings to Children’s Centres in order to create greater flexibility in the commissioning budget. This proposal was, however, rejected on the grounds that the model for Children’s Centres is at the heart of the Council’s early help approach and needs to enable access for all local families to high quality information and advice.
Reasons for Decision
The Council are required to undertake a statutory consultation where it proposes to make changes to its Children’s Centre delivery model. The proposals in this report seek to address how the Council may continue to meet its statutory obligations for the provision of Children’s Centres in light of significant budget reductions.