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Consultation on children’s centres launched

Families with young children are being asked for their views as Herefordshire Council launches a consultation to review the way children’s centre services work across the county.

With changing national policy and financial challenges being faced locally and nationally, the council needs to make best use of the budget available to make sure all children are being supported to achieve their full potential. 

The consultation aims to make sure that the services provided by children’s centres are the ones needed by families in the areas that need them the most.  It asks parents and carers what sort of services they value most, and what they would like these services to look like in the future. 

Herefordshire has eleven children’s centres, ten of which are run by the council.  Only one is run by a charitable organisation at the moment (the H.O.P.E. Family Centre in Bromyard).  The consultation seeks views on whether more children’s centre services should be provided by volunteer groups, parents, charities or privately run businesses.   

Views are also being sought on a proposal to transform one of the three south city children’s centres into a childcare nursery to create additional places for two year olds.  This is needed because the Government has pledged to increase the number of places for two-year old children living in certain parts of the county. 

Councillor Patricia Morgan, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “The consultation will help us understand what works well now, what could work better in the future.

“We have the opportunity to make some significant changes to the way we support the county’s families.  It is crucial that we understand what families need and what their priorities are for the future. I would therefore urge as many parents and carers to respond to the consultation as possible.  We’re particularly keen to hear from families who do not use children’s centres at the moment.”

Parents and carers and service providers are being encouraged to share their thoughts on the future of children’s centres.  The consultation is available on the council’s web site (www.herefordshire.gov.uk/childrenscentresconsultation).  The closing date for responses is 30 March 2012.  Findings will be made available on this web site early in the  summer with recommendations being made to the council’s cabinet in June.