Council launches review of all 36 children's centres

By Jess Brown

| 21 January 2016

The future of 36 children's centres has been placed in doubt after a council launched a review of all existing buildings as part of efforts to save £25m a year.

A group of mothers have warned the local authority not to cut children's centre services. Picture: Worcestershire County Council

Worcestershire County Council says it is reviewing the buildings as part of plans to introduce a new prevention service that will support families with children aged 0-­19.

It said the new services will bring together a range of existing support services including support delivered through children's centres, the family nurse partnership programme, health visiting, school nursing, and breastfeeding support services.

The review of all children's centre buildings is being conducted to see how they "can best be used in order to provide the right support to those that need it most".

However news of the review has prompted a backlash from users of the children’s centres, with a group of parents who are members of Facebook support group Worcester Mums Network warning against cuts to any existing services. One mother said it would be a “real shame” if any services are cut.

Another mother said: “Over the years I have received advice on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, weaning, reusable nappies and baby carriers at groups held in children's centres and I consider them to be an absolutely vital resource for parents from all walks of life.

“I truly hope the support they provide is recognised and that future mums get the opportunity to benefit in the same way I have.”

A third mother said: “I honestly feel that there is no better parenting resource than the children's centres, they are hubs of knowledge and support.”

A consultation on the plans, which will come into force from 1 October this year, is due to close next Friday (29 January).

Marcus Hart, lead member for health and wellbeing at Worcestershire County Council, said: "I would like to invite all local residents to share their views on the future use of children's centres. By listening to the needs of service users, we are trying to ensure the best possible support services and facilities for families with children aged 0-19 years old.
"As well as providing for current service users, our hope is that children's centre buildings will in future fulfil a wide range of functions that support and appeal to all members of the community.

"We are eager to hear from people who perhaps don’t regularly visit their local children's centre about what we can do to make the building as useful and appealing as possible."

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