Council set to review support services to families

Looking at new and more efficientways tohelplocal familiesand support young children to learn and developis the difficult task facingcouncil bosses in the coming months.

Thenew Families Support Services review comes after the Council agreedone of its mostchallenging budgets ever, which includedthe need to find further savings and efficiencies of around £53m across allservices over the next fouryears.

Thereview willfocus primarily on the role of the 35 children’s centres across the County, the services they provide and the impact they make inhelping children develop and families avoidthe need for social care support in the future.

Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Zahir Mohammed said he was looking for a future model for the centresthat both saved money andbettertargeted thepeople thatwould really benefit from the support they provide.

“Our Children’s centres are extremely popularin their local communities but it’s my job to make sure thatthey deliver services that are focussedon those children and familieswho really needhelp.

“Weface difficult decisions, but if we don’t provide a more targeted service,we won’t achieve the savings we need to make – this is the reality of the difficult budget decisions the Council had tomake back in February.A do-nothing approach is not an option.

He added, “At this early stageI can’t rule out optionswhich might include possible closures in some areas, howeverI will ensure we exploreall the different ways that theycould continuegoing forward.”
Thereview will include looking at variations in need across the county and how these could be better met, good practice nationally and globally, how buildings could be better used and how savings and more income could be made. The review will alsotakeaccount of the views of users and professional providers.

An initial review report is expected later in the year.