Listen to the discussion on BBC Radio Oxford about the likely impact of the proposed cuts to Children's Services. If you only have 5 minutes then do scroll through to 1 hour 12 mins in, where Tracy, a mum from Marston Children's Centre, talks powerfully about the difference that the children's centre made to her ("The Children's Centre, in a word, saved my life, thanks to all their support, help and listening. I don't think my family or friends know how low I was. I don't think I know how low I was..."). She's followed by Teresa Smith (one of the principle investigators on the government's Evaluation of Children's Centres in England research for Oxford University, and chair of Peeple trustees), who highlights the importance of the universal and informal nature of children's centres, where anyone can go in for a coffee and find specialist support if they want or need it, without the stigma that a targeted service can bring, not to mention the loss of early prevention.
The deadline to respond to Oxfordshire Council's proposal to close ALL of Oxfordshire's Children's Centres and Early Intervention hubs has now closed, but you can still write to your local MP or councillor (see below).
Peeple rejects all three options suggested by Oxfordshire County Council in their consultation on the future of Oxfordshire's Children's Services and Children's Centres.
We hope that you will too. These are some of the reasons why…
This is NOT a genuine consultation
NONE of the three options presented in the consultation will save children’s centres in Oxfordshire.
ALL existing children’s centres in Oxfordshire will be closed
All 44 Children’s centres will be replaced with 6 or 8 Children & Family centres for families with children and young people 0-19 (or 25 where the young person has additional needs). They will be led by social workers and will only be for the most vulnerable families who have been referred to the service. These centres will include 6 or 8 designated children's centres operating from within the Children and Family Centres.
Universal services will no longer be provided
Children’s centres provide universal services for ALL families with a child age 0-5 – a time when families can need a little extra help from professionals. as well support from other families in the same situation.
Universal services help families in greatest need
Children’s centres are places where parents can get the support they need, when they need it and where they need it. This support is from a variety of agencies - statutory and voluntary - who work together to provide the support that families need and deserve. If families need a little extra support, this is provided without stigma, children are kept safe, and crises are avoided.
None of the proposals make economic sense
Councils have difficult spending decisions to make - but these proposals are only about short-term savings. Early support is much cheaper than spending money later on after little difficulties have become big problems. All the evidence shows that if you focus on the earliest years, lives can be transformed – children and families benefit, and so does society.
The cost of establishing the new services will be high
On top of the cost of setting up the new services, it will cost an extra £4 million to make children’s centre staff redundant. Years of local knowledge, partnership working and expertise will be lost – instead, the money will be spent on starting again from scratch.
There is an alternative
Individual children’s centres have offered to cut their budgets whilst still providing services. Our neighbours in Buckinghamshire are making savings without closing a single children's centre. If the overwhelming response from the consultation is to reject all three of the proposals and to save the children’s centres – then the council must listen!
David Cameron (Prime Minster and local MP) says
“I know how vital these services are for many local people and I firmly believe they should remain open.”
Have your say
Join the Save Oxfordshire’s Children’s Centres campaign. Go to their website at www.SaveOxfordshiresChildrensCentres.com and sign the petition. You can also find them on facebook and twitter. Attend the meeting at Oxford Town Hall on Tuesday 12th January to protest about the council's cuts.