Families invited to a series of public meetings in preparation for a new Early Help service

Buckinghamshire County Council is moving ahead with plans for a new early help service for children and families.

Earlier this year, plans were given the go ahead to redesign services that support families in Buckinghamshire with early help by bringing them together as one service; the ultimate goal to make it easier for families to be supported with all of their issues ranging from when their children are babies right through to teenagers.

The decision for a new Early Help service was then challenged through the councils call-in process and subsequently rejected in early February. The council is now in the process of implementing plans to bring these services together, talking with staff and the services involved about how the new service will work when it launches in June 2018.

As part of the next stage, the council will be talking with local communities, groups and organisations about the future use of children’s centre buildings to ensure maximum use for children, families or the local community where possible. Discussions will be taking place over the next six months, with a view to clear proposals in place for the future of each location by July 2018.

Alongside meeting with schools and local councillors a series of public meetings are being planned to discuss options for the children’s centre buildings in specific locations. Local communities are invited to the following public meetings:

Tuesday 20th March, 7pm, High Wycombe Library

– Covering children’s centres in High Wycombe – Castlefield, Mapledean, Millbrook, Disraeli, Hamilton Road, Hampden Way, Wycombe East

Monday 26th March, 7pm, County Hall, Aylesbury

– Covering children’s centres in the Aylesbury area – Waddesdon, Quarrendon, Bearbrook, Elmhurst, Oakfield and Bedgrove, Southcourt

Tuesday 27th March, 7pm, Buckingham Library, Buckingham

– Covering Buckingham Children’s Centre and Steeple Claydon

Further meetings are being planned into April and will be publicised over the next few weeks.

The council want to reassure families who are currently getting support from Early Help services, like children’s centres and family support, that these services are continuing as normal throughout the next few months. Information about the next stage, public meetings and how to get involved can be found on the website at www.buckscc.gov.uk/earlyhelp and will continue to be promoted through our social media pages over the coming months.

Cabinet Member Warren Whyte said:

“The next few months are crucial as we spend time talking to staff and our commissioned early help services about how we will come together as one service. We are also talking to local councillors and inviting local communities and organisations to share their ideas about how we can continue to use the children’s centre buildings in their local community, at public meetings and via our website.

It’s really important that families know that services won’t just stop. Our children’s centres and other support services for families will continue to run to their current timetables until June 2018 and we will keep you informed of what the new service will look like and what will happen after June as we move forward.

We know change is unsettling but we also know that we need to do more to support children and families earlier, with a service that is flexible to meet their individual needs.”