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The charity Barnardo’s is calling on the Government to save children’s centres, after figures showed funding has been cut from £1.2bn to around £0.6bn in the last six years.
Budgets for children’s centres have been reduced by 47 per cent since 2010, according to the Department for Education.
Barnardo’s wants the Government to help financially stricken local authorities fund these 'vital early years services'. It also wants each local authority to look at whether standalone children’s centres are still right for them, or work with health and social care providers and other partners to decide on alternative ways for these services to be delivered to a broader age range.
It highlights an innovative approach by Essex, where the county council and the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group have brought together existing services under the umbrella of the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “We appreciate local authorities are having to cut budgets but it’s vital funding is found to provide essential early support services for families.
“If families are helped to tackle issues early on, this reduces the likelihood of problems increasing and leading to more deep seated difficulties in later life.”
He added that by investing in early intervention and family support, we are investing in our future. “The Government must prioritise these services and help local authorities ensure they are available to all families,” said Mr Khan.
Barnardo’s manages early intervention and family support services across England and believes the additional support they provide for parents of young children is essential – especially in areas of high need.
Barnardo’s runs over 150 children’s centres and is the second largest provider of children’s centres within the charity sector.
Barnardo’s children’s centres provide free services and resources for a range of needs, making sure that children have a healthy development and are prepared for school. Activities at the centres include breastfeeding support, parenting information and play groups.