Coventry & Warwickshire

Fears over loss of 'lifeline' provided by Warwickshire children's centres

Warwick Children's Centre
Image caption Warwick Children's Centre was among those providing important services, pre-school staff and parents told the meeting

Concerns have been been raised that parents with young children could lose a "lifeline" under plans to reorganise children's centres in Warwickshire.

The county council is midway through a public consultation which could create 12 "family hubs" from 39 centres.

One woman told a public consultation that a centre in Warwick, which helped parents with a range of problems, could be lost.

The council said 'early years' services remained "absolutely critical".

For more Warwickshire news

John Dixon, the council's director for people, told the public meeting in Warwick it had been researching the best ways of delivering services for two years.

Image caption County council representative said there had been about 800 questionnaires returned so far

Laura Robbins, a pre-school teacher, said Warwick Children's Centre, one of the centres under threat, was used to help parents with issues such as an abusive relationship or financial problems as well as development issues such as children's speech development.

Jane Williams of voluntary group Stratford Parenting Project, feared services for '0 to five year-olds' would be ""diluted" at family hubs, which would also cater for older children and young adults.

"Research across the world shows the importance of these critical days," she said, calling for funding for under-fives to be "ring-fenced".

But Mr Dixon insisted: "We still strongly believe looking after early years is fundamental to improving lives in Warwickshire."

Marina Kitchen, children's transformation lead at Warwickshire, said drop-in sessions as part of the consultation had shown the most valued children's centre services included health visitors, 'stay and play' sessions and perinatal care. She added "outreach' work in communities would remain key in the future.

The council needs to shave £1.12m off its Children's Centre budget as part of £67m of savings by 2020.

Geoff Morgan, the council's portfolio holder for children's services, appealed for residents to give their views.

More on this story