CELEBRATION OR CONCERN OVER CHILDREN’S CENTRE CHANGES?

March News 2017

Rose Hill Children and Family Centre to continue open access services

By Anna Missa (Mother & resident)

Parents and carers are celebrating the news that Rose Hill Children and Family Centre will continue to provide Council-funded open access services to families with young children aged 0-5 years old.

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What these services will be, and the extent to which they will operate, hasn’t yet been made fully clear to the public. However, the news comes as a small victory to campaigners who fought against the severe cuts to Oxfordshire’s Children’s Services, which were to see the closure of 34 of the County’s 44 Children’s Centres.

The remaining 8 centres designated as Children and Family Centres, including Rose Hill, and 2 satellite centres, were to solely deliver the Council’s new referral-only service for vulnerable 0-19 year-olds, with the suspension of all open access services to families with young children. This sparked outrage from Oxfordshire communities including Rose Hill, whose residents suddenly faced being denied an essential place of support during the first few years of their children’s lives.

The Council, however, appears to have made somewhat of a turnaround on their plan to cut open access services with an announcement that not only will the 8 Children and Family Centres in the county, including Rose Hill, now offer open access services to families with young children, but in addition it has ring-fenced a start-up fund of £1million for community schemes to run open access services at other children’s centres which had been earmarked to close. According to the Council, it means: “a combination of council-funded and community-led solutions for open access services are now confirmed or supported in principle at 34 buildings across the county.”

Mother-of-one Sam Shiell, a resident of Rose Hill & a Children’s Centre campaigner, is delighted to hear that open access services will continue in Rose Hill, but is unsure what this will actually mean for families with young children:

“It was shortsighted of the Council to want to cut all open access services. I appreciate that the new service will care for vulnerable children and young people who are already at risk, but what about the children who with the support of the children’s centres would avoid reaching a crisis point when intervention is needed? It is a victory that we have managed to maintain some open access services, although what they will be is yet to be seen, but it has been very sad to say goodbye to the staff who were made redundant as part of the new service changes. That’s not a victory for anyone.”

Mixed feelings are also felt by Children’s Centre campaigner Ruth Lloyd, mother of two, who has used Rose Hill Children’s Centre for the past seven years:

“I wouldn’t call it a victory, perhaps more of a halfway house. There will be something – but what will that be? Will it be the same as the ‘stay and play’ drop-in model, or something else? These sessions have been so important for me and for other families with young children. You know that every week at that time there is a safe place which is local where you can go to for support. You get to know the staff and they know when it’s a good day or a bad day for you.”

An upcoming response from the new Children’s centre manager will be issued on Rose Hill News Online in the upcoming days and in the printed edition out April 11th.

Are you a parent or carer who lives in Rose Hill? What do you think about the proposed changes and how do you think it will effect your family? Are you worried at all? Contact us below and join the conversation!

 

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