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ECC consultation launches on the future shape of Children’s Centre Services delivery

17 October 2013

Essex County Council has launched a consultation into the future of children’s centre services delivery.

Essex County Council is committed to delivering children’s centre services at a time when the financial challenges that we face are unprecedented. Reduced funding from central government, together with the impact of inflation and increasing demands for services mean the council needs to save around £215m by 2016-17. As a consequence , the proposal is to make savings of £2.5m from the children’s centre budget between 2014 and 2016 which can only be achieved by working smarter.

The County Council is proposing to deliver children’s centre services through a combination of 37 main sites and 37 delivery sites. 11 centres will no longer be operating from their current sites but merging with other children’s centre sites. By making these changes it is possible to free up staff and resource to deliver what families need and where they need it.

The children’s centres consultation launches on 17th October and runs until 5th December. The consultation can be viewed and responded to online at www.essex.gov.uk/childrenscentres alternatively a consultation pack can be completed at any children’s centre. Details of all Essex children’s centres can be found at www.essex.gov.uk/fis.

Essex County Councillor Dick Madden, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Families and Children, said: “Children’s centre services are an important part of delivering early support for children young people and their families in Essex. However the financial challenges we face mean that all services are having to be reviewed.

“We have actively worked with our children’s centre providers to make sure that the impact this has on services is kept to a minimum. I truly believe that this new flexible way of working, which focuses on services rather than sites, will mean that the children’s centre staff will be able to provide the services that families need and want.

“I want to encourage those that value the services children’s centres provide to contribute to the consultation. It is important that we gather the views of all those that use our services to ensure that the future service caters for local need.”

Tim Jeffrey, CEO of Spurgeons, said: “Spurgeons is very proud of the work it has been carrying out alongside Essex County Council in Children’s Centres in West Essex.  We look forward to continuing to work closely with them to deliver the services that the children and families who use the Children’s Centres know are vital in ensuring the very best outcomes for their children' through the challenges of the public sector cuts.”

Tracy Maxwell-Jones, 4Children’s Director of Children and Family Services, said:
"The model chosen by Essex as main sites and delivery sites bears a close resemblance to models which 4Children have pioneered as one of the major providers of children’s centres in the country.  We believe it offers the opportunity to maximise resources, provide flexible utilisation of the workforce, whilst maintaining and enhancing front line services.

“Models similar to this have been tried and tested across the country and have ensured the maintenance of high quality services during times of budget pressures.  As a long standing partner with Essex we are committed to work with them on this project, and are determined that the children and families in mid Essex continue to receive the highest quality services we are able to provide.  We are confident, as always, Essex will be supportive in achieving this.”