ESSEX County Council is proposing to provide a more integrated health, wellbeing and family support service for families and children from pre-birth until the age of 19.
Children’s centres currently provide services for families with children aged 0 to 5 and Essex County Council proposes to offer a wider range of services to meet the needs of the whole family: from pre-birth to 19. This includes extending services for pregnant mothers through to families with children aged up to 19, as well as offering more services under one roof, such as school nursing and health visitors.
A part of the plan includes looking at the future of Sure Start Children’s Centres. Under the proposals, children’s centres would become Family Hubs from 2017 and the number of locations would change to meet the needs of children and families across Essex.
It is proposed that Family Hubs, one in each district in Essex, would be open more of the time, including weekends. Family Hubs would be supported by a range of local centres also offering services, but open when people need them most.
The overall aim of the proposals is to ensure that families still have easy, local access to services, which are often in places that families already use such as clinics and libraries.
Cllr Dick Madden, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Children said, “We want to provide the right support and advice, in the right place and at the right time. That is why we want to know what people think about our proposals to make Children’s Centres in Essex more flexible and to expand the support that is available.”
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education & Lifelong Learning added, “Children’s Centres are being included in a larger piece of work that we are doing to bring services together for all families and their children – from pregnancy right up to the age of 19. These proposals are about providing more flexible support to families.”
Cllr Graham Butland, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health also said, “We have taken a lot of care to work with our existing Children’s Centres in Essex and to think about how we can make sure the support they provide is a part of these plans. As such we strongly encourage people to take some time to read our proposals, complete the consultation and make their views known.”
The consultation takes place from 15 February to 10 April. Members of the public can complete the consultation online at http://surveys.essexinsight.org.uk/childrenscentresconsultation2016
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