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Children’s services to be accessible to families that need them

Published on Wednesday, 28th February 2018 in Council news news

Leaders have pledged to focus the Council’s limited resources on services for children, ensuring they remain accessible to the families that need them, rather than paying for under used buildings.

Since the launch of Rotherham Council’s new Early Help offer in January 2016, the Council has saved £1.2m by bringing together previously separate services into teams based in localities across the borough.

This has meant better services for families being delivered in a more focused and joined up way within the communities where they are needed.

Now the Council is looking to make further changes to these services, including children’s centres and youth centres, making them efficient and effective while still ensuring the services are available to people who need them.

The proposals include relocating some services from buildings that are underused and in poor repair, to where people want them. This phase will see more than £522k of further savings achieved, without reducing the quality and availability of current services.

Under these plans the Council is proposing reducing children’s centres from 12 to nine and the number of youth centres from 11 to six. The children’s centres in scope are: Park View, Broom Valley and Wath Victoria and the youth centres are Herringthorpe, Treeton, Kiveton, Maltby Linx and Swinton.

The above children’s centres have small numbers of families accessing their services with local residents choosing to use other facilities instead.

Many of the youth centres in scope are in badly dilapidated buildings, with leaking roofs and would cost too much to repair.

Services will instead be delivered in a way which strengthens partnership and neighbourhood working and is targeted appropriately to support the most vulnerable children, young people and families. This may include outreach and street based work as well as drop in sessions at centres which are well used by communities.

Cllr Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader of Rotherham Council and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services said: “I want to reassure people that the level of services in the borough will not be reduced by the proposals as there are no plans to lose any staff in the localities.

“Instead people will be able to access services at sites they already use in the community or through street based youth activities. This is what young people have told us they want and is something we have already successfully trialled in some areas, so we know it works. Similarly we will continue to offer families the same services within their neighbourhoods in community spaces they already access.

“Our focus needs to be on delivering services which children, families and young people have told us that they actually need and value. If we are going to be effective, then we need to be out there in the community and not tied to just delivering services from buildings.

“We want to make sure that the services people need the most, are where they need them to be.”

The plans will see Early Help services run from the remaining children’s centres, with a further three link centres. Youth services will be delivered from a mixture of youth centres with further services run through the development of locality family hubs.

The new hubs will offer children's centre services for children and families from birth to five, as well as wider family support for older children through integrated Early Help teams. They will also provide a base for outreach workers visiting families in their own homes.

These plans follow extensive consultation around Rotherham’s Early Help offer, which has been continually improving since the service was launched in January 2016. Previous consultation included engaging with young people who said they rarely used the Council run youth facilities, but they were still keen to see youth provision in the town.

Cllr Watson added: “The Council is having to operate in an increasingly tight financial climate, with the authority expected to have to find £42m of savings over the next two years, so the Council needs to ensure the limited funds it does have are spent in the right way to benefit people who need it most.”

A 90 day consultation will begin in April on the new proposals, if this is agreed at next month’s Cabinet meeting on Monday 12 March.

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