Take-over plans for kids’ centres

Doncaster Council plans to take over the running of all 21 children’s centres in the borough.

The move is in response to concerns over the future funding of the centres, of which six are currently council-run with the remainder managed by a number of other organisations, including some school governing bodies and the charity NCH Action for Children.

According to the council, the future funding of the centres is unlcear after March 2013 making it difficult to make long-term plans and to award contracts. It also poses a financial risk to the cash-strapped authority which has to save £70 million to meet Govenment demands for spending cuts.

The children’s centres are part of plans to improve services to families across Doncaster, stepping in to provide early support rather than intervening when problems arise later.

Along with the Family Support Service and the Youth Service, the centres are part of the Integrated Family Support Service.

Bringing all children’s centres together under the same management at the council will help the IFSS to give an even better service to all families, says the council.

Councillor Eric Tatton-Kelly, cabinet member for the children and young people’s service said: “We’re taking action now so that we can effectively manage children’s centres over the next few years. There are no issues with the quality of what is on offer at centres at the moment, but we need to plan for an uncertain financial future.

“We want to make sure that the services families can access through children’s centres are consistent and giving best value for money, and also see whether we can reduce the running costs by managing them centrally.”

There will be a further report to the council’s cabinet on September 14 which will look at transferring the centres, which are continuing to operate as normal, operating a range of services.

Staff who work in children’s centres who are employed by other organisations would transfer to be employees of the council.