More popular community venues to provide children's centre services
"Children's centre services offer vital support to parents in the early years of a child's life. It is important that this support continues in the most effective way, with genuine outreach to families across Wiltshire."Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children's services
Council leaders have agreed to provide more children's centre services at local community venues and via one to one contact with families.
At a cabinet meeting today (30 April) it was agreed to close six underused buildings and focus funding on frontline staff.
The buildings at Cricklade, Longfield in Trowbridge, Mere, Westbury, Pewsey and Salisbury City will no longer be used. Five of these buildings will be offered for much-needed childcare provision and the Salisbury venue will be returned to the landlord. It was additionally agreed to explore other potential venues for children's centre services in all the towns including Cricklade which was specifically discussed in the meeting.
A proposal was agreed to delay the closure of the Westbury Children's Centre until this autumn. Wiltshire Council is proposing to transfer Old Westbury Youth Centre to the Westbury Community Project Trust (WCPT). If this goes ahead, children's centre services can be run from this building when it is ready. Should the transfer not take place then the services will be run from alternative venues in the town.
Children's centre services for families with under-5s provide a range of support and advice around parenting, home learning environment, domestic abuse support, employment and training opportunities and healthy lifestyles.
Children's centre services will continue to work in collaboration with health visiting and midwifery teams, and other colleagues who support housing and employment. There will also be a greater emphasis on providing help earlier for families before they reach crisis point.
It is hoped more families will use the service by moving into venues families already attend, as well as offering programmes in libraries, leisure centres and community hubs. The different locations will help more families access the services, particularly in areas of deprivation. There will also be more information online to meet changing demand for how people find out about services and programmes.
Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children's services said: "Children's centre services offer vital support to parents in the early years of a child's life. It is important that this support continues in the most effective way, with genuine outreach to families across Wiltshire.
"We know some families would rather visit a community venue than a children's centre building, or the centre may be too far from where we live. Rather than spend money on costly underused buildings, we want to invest in the staff and the services to give young children the opportunities to have a good start in life.
"I'm pleased Westbury Children's Centre will remain open until the autumn while we explore the potential transfer of the Old Westbury Youth Centre to the Westbury Community Project Trust."
The cabinet agreed to work closely with maternal health and community childcare providers to support the choice of future community venues and expand the scope of services to families in the most deprived areas of Wiltshire.
The cabinet also agreed to widely promote the children's centre services including using social media for those families who want to access more services online.