The changes are being proposed to make sure the services families need and value can continue to be provided, while reducing management and building costs at a time of big national cuts in funding for public services. The proposed changes would better coordinate
early years’ services with wider neighbourhood services.
The proposed changes, which would come fully into effect by 1 October 2015, will generate savings of £2.4m by 2015/16.
The proposed new arrangements follow a review of the services offered by children’s centres and extensive consultation with the public, stakeholders and other interested parties. The proposals that were consulted on have been modified to take on board comments
made during those consultations.
The proposed changes will see children’s centres working alongside other services to coordinate and plan the services that families and young children need. This will bring together the work of midwives, health visitors and children’s centres and will enable
pregnant women and families with young children to receive a seamless service from pre birth to school.
All families will continue to have access to a range of services across the Bradford district and will also continue to have access to a range of universal services through the early years offer. These will include:
- The Family Links Antenatal Programme: an 8 week course for pregnant women and their partners to prepare for the birth and parenthood
- Birth visit including breast feeding support within the first month
- A home safety visit at 3 – 4 months
- Weaning advice
- Early Language Development session (6 months of age)
- Developmental Movement and Play session
- Early Language Development session (18 months)
- A development review at two-and-a-half years
- Access to a free early education place in the term after their child’s third birthday
- Free Book Start packs
- Access to information through the Families Information Service
Underpinning the new approach for early years services and that of the new delivery model is a change to how services are organised that would see:
- Coordinated buying of services so that they are in the right place at the right time.
- Integrated neighbourhood working so services are better coordinated and delivered.
- Integrated workforce development so staff skills are pooled and shared.
- Use of evidence based interventions so that we provide the most effective services we can.
- Continued commitment to children’s social and emotional development and well being; their health and nutrition; and their early learning.
- Parents and the local community having a strong voice and influence so they are at the heart of what we deliver.
The revised proposals ‘cluster’ children’s centres in geographic areas. The clusters take account of the current way that centres work and link with their communities. Centres could be arranged into a minimum of 7 or a maximum of 12 clusters. Creating 7 clusters
would bring improved efficiencies through greater economies of scale and make the services more sustainable in the longer term.
Services will continue to be provided in centres, at local venues and through outreach work in family homes. This is consistent with government guidance on what children’s centres should do.
While services will continue to be provided locally the Ofsted designation of some sites will need to change.
Within some clusters there will be areas where overall outcomes for children are good. In these areas services will be targeted to make sure vulnerable children and families are supported. Existing sites could be developed for increased community use through
community and social enterprise.
The new cluster model would require different arrangements for governing and managing centres. Currently, there are 41 centres and each one has its own arrangements. With the new proposals, there would be one governance structure, one Advisory Board, one
manager and one staff team for each cluster rather than each centre.
Michael Jameson, Bradford Council's Strategic Director of Children’s Services, said:
"We have fewer resources available and need to put an emphasis on the services we provide for young children and families rather than buildings. These proposals will improve our offer to families by joining up services at a local level. We will also build
on the opportunities for good practice that develop from the successful Better Start Bradford bid.”
Coun Ralph Berry, Bradfrod Council's Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, said:
"There are 41,828 children aged 0-4 who live in our district. Improving their educational outcomes, reducing the impact of child poverty and protecting those who are most vulnerable are key priorities for the district.
"We need to use our limited resources in a more effective way and bring services together to meet future needs. These proposals reduce management costs so that we can protect the front-line services that families need.”