Over the past year, our Early Years Commission has been looking again at how we want to develop our children’s centres.
At the heart of the report are three broad principles, which the Labour cabinet have strongly endorsed – to maintain all our existing centres; to try to ensure that those which have day care continue to provide it; and to provide universal help to young families through children’s centres, but with a particular focus on those with the greatest needs.
This is good news for the parents and staff at centres like Wellholme Park, who worked very hard to get their views over and helped to spell out just how important the child care and other services at the centre are to them.
Children’s centres are about much more than regular child care – vital though that is. At a time when many families are under pressure, they’re a vital first place to go to for parents. And over the past few months, we’ve seen a steady increase in the numbers of families and children accessing many of our centres.
That’s why it’s so disappointing that the coalition government is halving central government funding for early years services over the five years of this Parliament.
Despite that, and despite all the financial problems the Council has to deal with, I am certain that protecting our Children’s Centres is the right priority – investing in our children now, to help them and their families have better opportunities in the future.
By Councillor Tim Swift