Strategic Director: Children’s Services
Contact: Laura Griffin, Commissioning Lead – Early Years and Parenting, Children’s Services, 0207 926 9565
Councillor Brathwaite, Deputy Leader of the Council (Children and Young People), introduced the proposal and outlined the following:
· The proposed redesign of the children’s centre services was a result of the way in which the Department for Education had placed restrictions on the way in which the Council could use the Dedicated Schools Grant.
· The restrictions on use of the grant resulted in a budget shortfall of £1.4 million per year for the children’s centres services.
· It was not sustainable to use the Council’s reserves to fund the overspend, particularly in the context of an overspend of £4 million in the children’s Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) budget.
· Lambeth Council was not alone in facing an overspend in their SEND service – with 32 out of 33 London boroughs also overspent in this area.
· The decision to remodel the children’s centres services by closing 5 out of 23 Centres was a difficult one, but with 18 remaining Centres Lambeth would have the third highest number of children’s centres of any London borough.
· A thorough consultation had taken place in order to guide the proposals, and amendments to the proposals in the Streatham area were being re-consulted on as a result of the feedback gained from the consultation.
Tony Parker, Director of Children’s Commissioning and Community Safety, was invited to present the outcome of the consultation and the proposed model to Cabinet. Cabinet noted that:
· The consultation had generated a high amount of interest and a high response rate from users of the children’s centre services.
· It was clear that residents valued the services provided by the borough’s children’s centres.
· Many respondents stated that the Council should find alternative funding to maintain the service in its current format. However there were no sustainable alternative funding arrangements available to maintain the service in its current format.
· The proposed model would integrate the children’s centres with other key health and early help services to provide better outcomes for children who used the centres.
· The proposed model was organised into six cluster areas of the borough, with a lead provider and a multi-agency board for each area. It was anticipated that parents and carers would play an active role in working with these boards to co-produce the services required in their areas.
· Changes were made to the proposals in the Streatham area due to feedback received in the consultation. Woodmansterne Primary School had decided that it would no longer be viable to provide a children’s centre services at their location due to the expansion of the school. Therefore the proposal had been amended to instead retain a children’s centre at Sunnyhill Children’s Centre. This amended element of the proposals required re-consultation before a separate Cabinet Member Decision.
· If agreed, the new service was due to go live in September.
Nick Acton, Alix Roberts and Temujin Gill made a representation to Cabinet on this item. Nick Acton acted as a spokesperson for the group and his representation focussed on the following key areas: