Families left without help as children’s centres close

By agency reporter
June 19, 2019

A new report by UK charity Action for Children, Closed Doors,  reveals that between 2014/15 and 2017/18:

  • Average children’s centre spending by councils fell from £532 to £412 per child
  • Estimated number of children using children’s centres in England fell by almost a fifth (18 per cent); a
  • Number of children using children’s centres in the most deprived local council areas fell by more than a fifth (22 per cent)
  • New analysis suggests an association between the average developmental gap shrinking in areas where children’s centre use has increased, and a widening of the gap in areas where their use has fallen
  • Even with funding cuts, centres reach as many young children as health visiting and government-funded childcare, making them a vital local service in the early years.
  • Since 2014/15, more than 800,000 children started school below the expected developmental milestones – including 168,000 from low-income families.

Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, said: “Children’s centres have seen their budgets slashed by almost two-thirds since 2010. This has left them unable to continue to reach families across communities, leaving many thousands of new parents with nowhere to turn for early help support – a far cry from the idea of easily-accessible, one-stop-shops within pram-pushing distance.

“From helping parents manage difficult behaviour and embed routines for their children, there are few things with which they’re not equipped to help. Crucially, they’re often the first place to identify serious issues like abuse and neglect and step in before problems spiral out of control.  

“The government must use the forthcoming Spending Review to allocate additional funding to local councils and ease the squeeze on children’s centre budgets. Giving children the best start in life is not only the right thing to do but helps to reduce the need for costly child protection services for when things go wrong.”

* Read the report Closed Doors here

* Action for Children https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/

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