Newham’s children’s centres under threat
- Credit: DPA Germany
Vital services for young children and their parents could be axed as soon as this autumn following a severe cut in government funding.
Only two weeks remain for residents to have their say on the reduction of Sure Start Children’s Centres from 22 to just eight in the borough.
Maryland Children’s Centre is one which would be ‘de-registered’, meaning its clients would have to access a newly created ‘Best Start in Life Hub’ in that area, Kay Rowe.
“If we were to move into the new options those reach areas would become amalgamated,” said centre coordinator Terena Bennett.
“We’d have a bigger area to work across, with more families and a lot less money.
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“Services would be similar but there would be less of them.”
Currently, Maryland provides daily sessions for 0-5 year olds and their carers, including parent and toddler sessions, Stratford library story-telling groups and baby massage. Services for adults include legal advice and smart training – with a considerable take-up of all activities and services in the past three years.
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Despite increased useage (the total number of contacts across Newham grew from 5,918 in 2012/13 to 13,429 in 2014/15), the government has reduced funding by £2.5m for the centres, while introducing free 15 hour entitlement for under 2s.
“Take up across the LA is increasing, but it is still relatively low as many parents do not want to offer the information needed to take up the entitlement, or are reluctant to be separated from their child at such a young age,” reads the Maryland Centre’s Governors’ Report from last month.
Terena added: “It’s definitely going to have a big impact. The reason children’s centres were established in the first place was to serve the most vulnerable members of the community.”
Maureen Hankin takes her three-year-old granddaughter to the centre once or twice a week, and has already collected more than 200 signatures against its deregistration.
“We use it once or twice a week, it’s a lifeline,” she said.
The consultation ends on July 23. To have your say, go to http://www.newham.gov.uk/Pages/ServiceChild/Consultation-on-Newhams-childrens-centres.aspx