Somerset children's centre may be cut as a revamp to family services is sought

PUBLISHED: 17:29 06 October 2017

Highbridge Children's Centre.

Highbridge Children's Centre.

Archant

The number of children's centres in Somerset could be cut after the county council revealed plans to change family support services.

If approved, the plans would see the creation of a single Family Support Service which would help families with children up to the age of 19.

This would include family support, health visitors and school nurses while extra support would be given both online and in venues such as libraries, village halls and schools.

The 24 Sure Start Children’s Centres in the county would be reduced to a network of eight family centres located in areas where there is greatest demand.

Highbridge Children’s Centre in Coronation Road would become the main family centre for Sedgemoor North while children’s centres in Cheddar and Burnham would support the services on offer there.

These would offer early childhood services, including education and nursery places.

A consultation period is now underway to allow people to give their views on the plans.

The council’s proposal says: “We know every community is different and how we provide support needs to be different for each area and one size doesn’t fit all.

“We know we need to be flexible and creative to make sure you can access support no matter where you live.

“We will develop an outreach programme to meet local needs that will include activities in community venues across the districts.”

Councillor Frances Nicholson, cabinet member for children and families, added: “We know the subject of change to this support, especially children’s centre services, is very emotive and we want as many people as possible to share their views.

“Our driving principle is to get support to those who need it most as early as possible so it can have the biggest impact.

“Buildings don’t support people, staff and the support they deliver do – the services will remain, it is how and where they are delivered that may change.

“By working differently, we believe we can help children and families achieve better outcomes and make our money go further.”

The consultation will end on December 1.

Click here to view the plans.

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