Skip to Content

Childrens Centres, Early Help and Specialist Family Support (Hu1)

Cuts

Portfolio: Children and Young People Portfolio

Description

Childrens Centers

The proposal is to change the operating model to a Hub and Spoke model with a centralised children centre and provide outreach services to five locations in the borough with reduced delivery to a maximum of 1 full day per week using community buildings to support delivery.  Children’s Centres provide early support in a universal and targeted manner specially to pregnant woman and children and their families 0-5 years.  The Childcare Act 2006 defines the role of the local authority as ensuring there is sufficient children centres as practicably possible.  There is a requirement  to ensure consultation is undertaken in respect of any major change in children centre provision.  The Local Authority works with health and job centre plus partners to ensure early childhood and employment services can be sufficiently signposted or offered from such centres. A children centre must also provide a number of activities for children 0-5 years to improve their life chances including health inequalities, school readiness and parental employment.

Children Centres are currently based in Haughton (stand-alone building) McNay Street (stand-alone building) Dodmire (spaced leased from Longfield Academy Trust) Mount Pleasant (part of Mount Pleasant School a maintained school by the council) and Skerne Park (spaced leased from Hummersknott Academy Trust).

Children Centres provide the opportunity for early identification of families and children who may, if not offered support at the earliest opportunity, require input from specialist services at an increased cost to the local authority. Opportunities for direct work with children and families would be limited given the reduction in bespoke children’s centres buildings.

Early Help

Working Together 2015 requires local authorities to work together with partner agencies and offer early help support to those families who are identified as having additional needs and support requirements.  Following identification an assessment is required to ensure services can be identified to support the child and family to prevent escalation to Children Social Care provision.  The local authority has a responsibility to promote interagency co-operation, establish the local process for Early Help and identification and establish the process as part of a continuum of need which should be agreed and promoted by the Local Safeguarding Board.  It is the role of the Local Safeguarding Board to monitor and evaluate the offer of services.

The current proposal is to merge existing family support services into one centralised team offering Early Help to those families where breakdown is imminent, who have multiple risk factors which impacts on family life.  Support those young people who are risk of becoming looked after, have poor school attendance or are likely to become NEET.  This will include a services that operate 7 days a week to the children and young people who are at risk of becoming looked after.

Currently there is significant co-ordination with the DWP secondee to focus on adults in the families getting back into employment. Fewer resources would inhibit the ability to work intensively to achieve this objective.

With reduced FIT resources there is likely to be an impact on the area based social work teams, the YOS and the FIT in terms of caseloads. There would be an increased expectation that social workers in the teams would complete the necessary interventions currently undertaken by the FIT.

Link

Hu1 Childrens Centres, Early Help and Specialist Family Support

 


 

Keywords: voluntary sector VCS

Related FAQs

Has the Council looked at ways buildings or services could be looked after by local groups?

Has the Council looked at ways buildings or services could be looked after by local groups?

We appreciate that there might well be groups willing to take over running buildings or services. While it is important that they are aware of the costs and responsibilities they would take on, we would be very happy to receive proposals. Unfortunately the speed of the spending reductions mean that the Council does not have the time to work with groups over any length of time so proposals need to be firmed up quite soon. 

What will be the impact on voluntary organisations such as Citizen’s Advice, Age UK, GADD? What happens if they close?

What will be the impact on voluntary organisations such as Citizen’s Advice, Age UK, GADD? What happens if they close?

We fully support the work of our voluntary sector partners and hope to continue to work with them in the future. However, the financial situation is such that the Council is not able to continue funding these organisations at current levels. The likely impact of the budget proposals on these organisations is currently being identified, following discussions with the organisations most affected. We hope that they are able to continue their work by looking at where they can make further cost and efficiency savings, but we appreciate that in some cases this may not be possible and it will therefore mean a reduction in the support they can offer to the residents of Darlington.  It could lead to the closure of organisations if they are unable to make the necessary changes for them to be sustainable, which will be very regrettable. We want to avoid this happening and we will support organisations making grant applications where we can. We will also be undertaking work to understand the impact of any reductions in service on individuals accessing them. 

The Council’s Children’s Services has already failed an Ofsted report – won’t cutting the budget make things worse?

The Council’s Children’s Services has already failed an Ofsted report – won’t cutting the budget make things worse?

We are spreading reductions over time to work with partners on new services. We now have an improvement plan in place to tackle the problems highlighted by Oftsed, which is getting us back on track, and ensures that all our services contribute to giving all children and young people in Darlington the best start in life.
Our proposals aim to develop a new service that combines early help with other support, which will include Children’s Centre delivery, early help and Troubled Families. Working with partners we are changing our approach, building on what works to target support at those children and families in greatest need. We are also strengthening our area social work teams and management in response to the Ofsted improvement plan. 

Your Say

9 comment(s)

This table lists comments from the public about this proposal

Comment

Core AH2 (Adult Social Care Other Commitments)
Cut Hu01 (Childrens Centres, Early Help and intervention - Specialist Family Support)
Cut Hu03 (Looked After Children)

I understand there might be a need to but council none essential services but don't think social services should be one of them. What would happen if the council just stopped providing them? There must be at legislative need for housing, child services etc so would an agency be drafted in to do the work? It could be better all round if these services were privately run as the funding would then be in place. Also, attract more commercial business into town with lower unit rent and cheaper car parking,

Cut Hu01 (Childrens Centres, Early Help and intervention - Specialist Family Support)

I am shocked and extremely worried about this proposal. My local Children's Centre, Mount Pleasant was a lifeline to me when I was on maternity leave with my daughter. I attended the breastfeeding support group almost every week, then play groups as my daughter got older. This was one of the few chances during the week I got to socialise and gain vital advice. My little girl learned important social skills and grew into a confident little toddler, I am certain, due to the regular chances she had to play and interact with other infants in a stimulating environment and the play sessions gave me many ideas to try at home. I hope to have a second baby but worry what there will be left to do with her in the town, with the addition of the closure of the libraries where we also attend fabulous sessions for young children.

Cut Hu01 (Childrens Centres, Early Help and intervention - Specialist Family Support)

I've been using the centres (mainly mount pleasant) for almost 4 years now. From the early days of motherhood when I needed support from everything from breastfeeding and health worries or just having somewhere to go to get out of the house with a tiny baby the centre was always there. The groups we have enjoyed and all the brilliant and lovely friends I have made while there. Fast forward to now and the children's centre has given me wonderful opportunities to volunteer. Helping new mummies in breastfeeding group, helping in play groups and being part of the families forum are all experiences I wouldn't have been able to have without the children's centre. This place and the people in it, whether they be staff or other parents I have met along the way, have helped me so much in my life. With my confidence, given me support and friendship when I've needed it most. This is my story and experience of the centre. I feel very passionately that these centres need to stay open as the valuable resource to the families and children of our community that they are. I have set up a Facebook group to help bring people together to help in this matter and have put a link up for this website so those families can make their comments here as well. Thank you

FF 52b (A Remodelled Dolphin Centre including the Central Library)
Cut Hu01 (Childrens Centres, Early Help and intervention - Specialist Family Support)
Core LLE12 (Indoor and Outdoor Markets)
Core EffR19 (Senior Management costs)

Hugely disappointed on several levels. The character and heritage of the town is being ignored. The Pease library should not be sold (as much as I love the civic theatre). To move it I believe will in all likelihood end up in a substandard library in the faceless council answer to everything The Dolphin centre . Maintain it , get groups more involved , cafe proposals, children's services . Half hearted suggestions previously ,never given true thought. Author signings/ talks . Seven stories etc... Organise author talks and charge ( I have been ) and seen the numbers it can attract if someone puts the effort in and these have been in faceless halls rather than beautiful buildings .

Local traders and their livelihoods once and the towns history. The market hall if it is allowed to go leaves darlington with faceless big name retailers that any other place has. foffanos the most recent I can think of and its venture into the deli should be commended for trying to bring variety into the town and they are now hit with this ?

Are the vunerable to be hit again ? kids need support when young to give help before the problems become bigger. whether this is at learning levels or at children's home levels. local businesses see enough trouble already with dealing with shoplifters, drunks, drugs and more recently troublesome teens. it's bad enough now by not giving support ( and aid to relevant charities) you are encouraging this to spiral. My issue is not so much children centres closing and maybe being condensed into one hub it's the wider picture and the fact that some of the charities do the work that the social services can't afford to. They pick up the reins and step in when others will not but the impact of what they do should not be overlooked.
I acknowledge that things such as xmas lights, flowers, grass cutting are a luxury. I also believe though that the council are suggesting library staff ( and others) face redundancy how about those at the top taking a cut in wages ? many other businesses have faced restructure amongst every level and to stay afloat if that's what it takes . it is not a miracle cure but it would also be a gesture that those at the top also acknowledge that they'll need to bear the pressure of cuts.

Core AH3 (Adult Packages)
Cut Hu01 (Childrens Centres, Early Help and intervention - Specialist Family Support)

Having read your proposals, I think that the Council should charge those able to pay for those services currently FOC or subsidized, within the legal requirements, in order to gain more revenue (under Core AH3 proposals). I do believe that some kind of (even minimal) charge could be made for many services, currently FOC. Used by thousands, this could increase revenue quite significantly.
Grass cutting - especially football pitches - why are these to be maintained and not other areas? Footballers and community volunteers could cut the grass they use, so that other areas are cut as at present.
Futures Fund: Needs of families and others with social/other problems, debt, etc., are currently helped by organisations & communities, such as CAB, Age UK, The Bridge, etc., all of whose funding you propose to stop. Until a year or so ago, I worked as a volunteer with the CAB. Help with debt and benefits alone, met the needs of approx. 20,000 people living in the Borough year ended March 2013 (just to give one, small example). If organisations, such as the CAB, cease to exist, then the Council will need to pick up the slack. Many clients were referred in the first place to the Bureau by Council officers and the Job Centre, who weren't prepared to offer the help needed. So the council will be required to spend even more. Even more community organisations should be encouraged and supported, saving the Council money in the long run.
Moving kids centres to the Dolphin Centre - a reasonable project, if it really will save money.
160 Council jobs to be cut? Many of these, I imagine, will comprise lower paid workers offering essential services, such as litter picking, etc. Yet you propose to spend the £2.5 million left over from legally required provision of services on economic growth and job opportunities. It just doesn't make sense! If a private company cut 160 jobs, there would be outrage and the Unions would get into full swing.

Core CYP4 (Early Help Model Revised)
Cut Hu01 (Childrens Centres, Early Help and intervention - Specialist Family Support)

The role and work of the Early Support Service already supports the Council's proposed Early Help Offer, delivered with partner agencies based on the premise that early intervention in the onset of difficulties is both more cost effective and contributes to better outcomes for children and young people

FF 52k (Financial and debt advice and welfare rights services)
Cut Hu01 (Childrens Centres, Early Help and intervention - Specialist Family Support)

This is a transcription of a comment made during the public meetings held during the budget consultation:

Q: I deliver advice services to two children’s centres in Darlington. If you move the centre into the town, a lot of vulnerable clients will not be able to get to it. We deal with everything, I do not know what’s going to come through the door. We have a lot of ladies with disabled children and we help them claim benefits, which is a minefield in itself. What is the council going to do for vulnerable clients in Darlington?

A: (Cllr Dixon) In terms of advice and support for young people, a lot of these young people have not just statutory needs but incredibly complex needs. We have enough money to deal with the statutory elements of this budget and that’s about all and that’s the tragedy. I think that’s shocking in the fifth or sixth richest country in the world, but we have to live within these means.

FF 52b (A Remodelled Dolphin Centre including the Central Library)
Cut Hu01 (Childrens Centres, Early Help and intervention - Specialist Family Support)
Core LLE12 (Indoor and Outdoor Markets)
Cut W05 (Cockerton Library)

This is a transcription of a comment made during the public meetings held during the budget consultation:

Q; There’s a lot of debt and a lot of people are suffering because of the debt. A lot of money has been wasted by the Council. Like the water feature, a lot of people did not want that. We are losing a lot of historical features like Cockerton and Crown Street Libraries and the market. A lot of people are proud to live in Darlington but we are losing so much of the history. We hear that suicide rates are increasing in Darlington. A lot of people will not be able to get to a Sure Start in the town centre. The town is going to be like a ghost town.

A: There is a misunderstanding about what our debt it. Of the £151m about £71m is in a separate, housing revenue account and is ring fenced. £80m debut is for capital schemes – one off things that we need a large amount of money for. When we built the office block behind the Town Hall to help jobs in the town, the debt in this instance is serviced by the rent for the building.
The Government has stopped giving us money to help pay off our debt. When we went into debt we thought the Government would help us. All local authorities have debt for capital schemes. The revenue budget which is being cut, is largely separate from this debt. Only a small percentage of the revenue budget goes to pay off the debt

Core AH5 (Adult Direct Payments to Personal Budget Costs)
Cut C05 (Cease Vulnerable Adults Floating Support)
Cut C09 (Cease funding to Gay Advice Darlington and for DAD Information Post)
Core CYP4 (Early Help Model Revised)
Cut Hu01 (Childrens Centres, Early Help and intervention - Specialist Family Support)
Core LLE18 (Concessionary Fares)
Cut W03 (Library Service Mobile Library)
Cut W20 (Blue Badge Parking)

Darlington Association on Disability response

Documents