Letter to the Cabinet member for Childrens Services , published in the EADT
Dear Cllr Jones
Subject: Consultation, Children’s Centres
You will recall that much thought and planning was given to the location of these Centres when first established. It was decided that they were the best places where the need and their accessibility would result in the best possible outcomes for children, both presently and in the future. We write to urge that you do not close any Children’s Centres.
These imperatives have not changed. Closing Centres are likely to deter those who may be in most need. Families presently using those proposed for closure may well be deterred from going to another, not able to manage issues such as cost, accessibility, time and motivation.
We would also ask that you re-consider your proposals by noting that all measures to provide support and direction for the benefit of children have recognised that Children’s Centres are the bedrock of such initiatives. They have contributed hugely to multi-agency approaches. For example, from 2011, when it was recognised that 0-11 years was the critical period for intervention and a team approach put in place, to the present LAC project and multi-agency safeguarding tenets.
Rightly, SCC needs to save money. However, we should equate the cost of retaining all Children’s Centres with that for placing Out County children in care: up to £1500 a week, and for foster carers between £800 and, shortly, £1,000 pounds a week These costs are likely to rise.
As corporate parents we should endorse all measures to prevent children coming into care.
Keeping all Children’s Centres open would help significantly towards continuing this aim.
Liberal Democratic Group
Suffolk County Council
Speaking on the matter at Suffolk’s Full Council, Cllr Penny Otton added : “I am very concerned at any closure in rural areas, with little of any public transport, will have a drastic effect on mothers, fathers and carers. Families in the armed forces stationed far from home and their family backup. The idea that qualified library staff will be able to replace the expertise of children’s centre managers and staff is madness. How can they be expected to help families in crisis?