Sefton Council has listened to its communities and is recommending not to create three Family Wellbeing Centres at this time following overwhelming public feedback.
The Council had been consulting on proposals to have three integrated family and children centre bases for children and young people from 0 to 19 and their families.
More than 1,600 people gave their views during the consultation and the Council held 15 public engagement events. While the majority were in favour of a more joined up approach for a new service through a whole family approach to cover ages from pre-birth to 19 year olds in order, they were not in favour of having three main centres.
Cllr John Joseph Kelly, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Safeguarding, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to every person who has taken time to respond to this consultation.
“We have taken great care in listening to our communities and all along we have been clear that we would listen to people’s views. As a result of this valuable feedback, we will consider changing our plans and are recommending that all the existing children and family centres remain open, but will cover support for 0-19 year olds, expand outreach and provide early help services. This will allow us to be more joined up and still make the most of the money that we have available to ensure support for those most in need. It will complement the work we’re doing to transform the way we provide early intervention and prevention services.”
However, due to significant reductions in Government funding over the last few years, the Council has had to make some tough decisions. In order to retain the centres within their current bases and to keep within the available budget, the Council acknowledges it will not be possible to provide the same level of activity within the centres.
In a report going to Cabinet on December 7, the Council is highlighting this issue and is recommending to change the way it provides funding to the children’s and family centres going forward.
This proposal would mean that the allocated monies will be prioritised on providing services that support parents, carers and all children regardless of age.
If the recommendations are approved, the Council will work closely with schools on the impact of the funding changes, as there would also be likely implications for employees of both the Council and those employed by schools.
Read about Sefton Council’s decision in full at the Agenda for Cabinet on 7 December.