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15 January 2019, 11:46 | Updated: 15 January 2019, 11:55
Norfolk County Council say they "have listened" and have updated proposals for a new, targeted and effective Early Childhood and Family Service.
They say that in addition to outreach in people’s homes and community venues, the latest proposals mean families could benefit from sessions at 15 bases, new activities at every library and investment to help other groups provide services in the community.
Last September, the Council proposed a new service as the existing children’s centre contracts are seven years old and the original children’s centre concept was launched 17 years ago.
After almost 1,600 responses to a consultation, the council is now proposing to have 15 bases which would amount to two per district, except for Norwich, with three. It means the number of children's centres set to close has been reduced from 46 to 38 out of 53 existing ones.
Councillor Stuart Dark, chairman of the Children’s Services Committee, said:
"We have listened and have updated our proposals.
“I believe we can provide effective, targeted support to children and families, through outreach support in people’s homes and venues across the county, plus 15 Early Childhood and Family bases in the areas of highest need. This is part of our wider, £65m work with children aged 0-5.
“It’s clear people also value sessions that any family can access, so we’re proposing to provide those at our bases and all our libraries.
“We’re confident the majority of the current designated children’s centres will continue to be used by groups, to run services for children and families. We plan to support this with a £500,000 grant fund.
“This new approach will be more targeted and cost-effective – the amount spent on frontline services should rise to 60p per £1.”
The children’s services committee will consider the latest proposals next week. If approved, any changes would take place from October.
The updated proposals, if approved, would mean:
The number of Early Childhood and Family bases would rise from seven to 15 – offering outreach support across the county and delivering Early Childhood and Family Services for families living nearby
The bases would run group activities, open to all families in the area – and Norfolk’s 47 libraries are extending their year-round offer of bounce and rhyme and stay and chat sessions, open to all families
The proportion spent on frontline delivery, as opposed to building and management costs, would rise from 39 per cent under the current contracts to around 60 per cent
The Council intends that the majority of the remaining sites would continue to be used by providers of services for children and families – supported by a £500,000 grant fund £250,000 would be provided each year for community development work, to help to ensure a strong network of support in communities
The amount spent on the service will be £5.2m , as previously agreed – as part of a wider, £65m spend on services for children aged 0-5
The proposed new service will aim to:
Provide targeted support for families with children aged 0-5
Offer help so that all families can connect with local support and universal early childhood activities
Operate 15 early childhood and family support bases and use a range of local delivery venues
Contribute to joint working and maintaining partnerships as part of securing a local early childhood offer
Invest £250,000 in community development to ensure there are strong networks of support
Support an enhanced online and digital information, advice and guidance offer for families
The locations of centres proposed for retention as an early childhood and family base are:
Swaffham, Thetford (Kingsway), Broadland
Drayton and Taverham, Great Yarmouth borough
Great Yarmouth (Priory)
Seagulls, King’s Lynn & West Norfolk borough
Nar, North Norfolk
North Walsham, Norwich city
Catton Grove, Fiddlewood, Milecross (CFM)
City and Eaton, Earlham, South Norfolk