Haringey Council is consulting on changes to the way its children's centres are organised and operate. A copy of the consultation paper is attached below as a PDF
A key priority is to ensure that we are able to maintain effective frontline services that make the most difference to outcomes for our young children.
We want to ensure that, with fewer resources from April 2011, services for the most vulnerable families are targeted in the areas they will be most effective.
Haringey has a long history of high quality work in this area and we want to maintain this at the highest level to improve outcomes for those most in need. To protect the services provided in Children's Centres, within the available budget, we need to reduce staff and general running costs within Children's Centres and look at a new pattern of provision.
The Council is also proposing to increase childcare fees from September 2011.
For more details, see this page
You can also access the relevant online questionnaire on the same page
Public Consultation Meetings for parents and carers
Parents and carers consultation (Public)
The Ladder Children's Centre are holding some parent meetings this Friday at 9.15 and again at 1.00pm to talk about the consultation and give help to anyone who wants to take part in it. There is also a 9.15 meeting on Monday 28th. If you use the CCs or plan to please pop in.
Following a meeting of The Ladder Children's Centre User Group, we also felt that a strong turnout at the public meetings might be a good idea. The meeting at the Civic Centre was the one that was the most likely for our parents to get to. Please make your voice heard. There are important implications in the proposals for these popular spaces for all families in the community and we should try and safeguard as far as we can their universal use and range of services.
As a follow up, we held a meeting today at the children's centre. It became quite clear that the consultation is totally inadequate to the scale of the issue.
People are being asked to comment on a model without it being clear what benefits there are to the model, in terms of the cuts.
They haven't published the financial model which they imply they haven't done, so if it proves that this model doesn't meet the budgets target, they won't be able to implement the model anyway. What is not made clear from the explanation of core offer, is that many of the services that were previously financed from elsewhere will now be additional costs which will have to be met from substantially reduced children's centre budgets and staffing levels. It's more of a wish list than a costed proposal.
There is inadequate explanation of the proposed staffing structure which explains how it meets the target core offer.
Finally, (for now), they are conducting a major consultation over a period which includes a two week school holiday which means many of the key stakeholders may not be around to attend meetings or get help.
The Ladder governors would urge as many people as possible to complete the questionnaire and make it clear if they find that the information is inadequate. They also suggest that parents/carers/users request a fuller and budgeted model be submitted for public consultation and make it clear that this current consultation shouldn't be seen as definitive. There are support meetings for completing the paper next Friday (1st) and on the 8th, inviting people to drop in to get help with and discuss the questionnaire. This includes people who may not yet have used the services or who have used the services in the past but may no longer need them.
We also are asking people to come along on the 16th April to the Civic Centre to raise the issues and to defend the service.
I've been unable to attend any of the meetings due to a lack of childcare (!) but I will be signing Daisy's petition to Michael Gove and will add my four penneth wherever and whenever I can. I'll post this again here.
This is my very personal account of why we need these children's centres to stay open.
During my pregnancy I used the Stonecroft centre in N8 for antenatal appointments and have visited some lovely mother and baby groups there. The centre I used a lot with Isabelle was the Ladder centre, next to South Harringay school in N4.
I can say without any exaggeration, a rare thing for me, that the Children's Centres saved my life. After Isabelle was born four and a half years ago, I suffered a serious and horrific illness that resulted in me being placed in both St Ann's Hospital then transferred to a Mother and Baby Unit in Park Royal for three months (this transfer was made with the help of Lynne Featherstone MP, to whom I will be eternally grateful). I digress.
Once back at home I had all the stuffing knocked out of me and my skills as a mother were neglible. I had no friends with tiny babies and no one to connect with as I felt so lonely, isolated and depressed. Living in a tiny one bedroom flat, I felt embarrassed to invite people round, as some of the mums I'd met had such large inviting houses, and in any case, we'd be jammed on the sofa listening to babies scream.
My salvation came in the guise of the children's centres. I could mix with other mums in neutral surroundings and got to share hints, tips and funny stories with a diverse mix of people from all four corners of the earth. I took Isabelle to painting sessions (no painting in our flat), dance sessions (ditto) and playgroups. I became well again, met new friends and started on a journey of motherhood that has so enriched and completely changed my life.
To cut funding to these services will have devastating consequences for people like me.