Changes to Children’s Centres
Our Cabinet members have agreed new ways of supporting children, young people and families across the district.
The changes will allow us to focus on the things that make the biggest difference in local communities and ensure the most vulnerable people receive the support they need.
‘Early Help’ services are designed to support local people as early as possible and to prevent problems becoming worse in the future.
Early Help Consultation feedback
A recent consultation on the ‘Early Help’ offer attracted over 1,300 responses, as well as gathering views from many local groups.
This feedback was used, along with data about levels of need across Kirklees, to draw up proposals which have now been discussed at Cabinet.
Members agreed that Early Help services will be offered by working closely with other organisations and using a ‘whole family’ approach.
There was a clear message in the consultation feedback that people viewed services as more important than keeping buildings.
Taking these views into account, the council will own and run fewer buildings. This will allow more flexibility in responding to the needs of children and families and will help to make the best use of scarce resources, focusing services on those who need them most.
What are the changes?
To have four central ‘hub’ sites spread across Kirklees
These will be the main point of access for anyone wanting more information about local services. Within each of the hubs there will be a range of professionals offering the expertise that families need.
To have four designated children’s centres
The reduction in children’s centre buildings reflects the consultation feedback about the importance of services, not buildings. The centres will be Birstall and Birkenshaw, Dewsbury Moor, Chestnut and Colne Valley.
Use more community venues
In addition to the hubs and designated children’s centres, the Early Help offer will move towards an increasing use of space in community venues. These could be, for example, schools and health settings. This will help a more flexible approach.
Thoughts on the Changes
Cllr Erin Hill, Cabinet member for Family Support and Child protection, said: “Our priority is to make sure people who most need our help are able to receive it.
“Our budget is incredibly challenging. That won’t be news to anyone and we’re not unique. Nationally, thousands of children’s centres have had their budgets slashed and hundreds have closed altogether. But we can’t wring our hands – we have to come up with a new way of doing things.
“We are committed to supporting the most vulnerable people in Kirklees and, from the recent consultation, we know there is a high level of public agreement to taking this approach.
“There were over 1,300 responses to the consultation and the majority said it didn’t matter who owned the building – what matters is the quality of service.
“We know that in some areas, our current provision isn’t working. We need to reach more people, and we need to situate our services where people can easily access them.
“We are also developing an offer with partners and communities to support people with low level health and social care needs, ensuring they stay well. By helping people earlier, rather than later, we can make a bigger difference.”
A gradual approach will be used when making the changes and some council buildings which are earmarked for future closure will continue being used in the short term, helping with a smooth transition to the new ways of working.
Read the full report (PDF)