The two organisations which will deliver Wiltshire Council’s continued £3.5m investment into children’s centre services over the next few years have now been announced.
Last autumn Wiltshire Council undertook a wide ranging consultation on proposals for delivering the services which are designed to improve outcomes for young children and their families, and reduce inequalities in children’s life chances.
The services aim to support good early child development, raise parenting aspirations and improve parenting skills. There is also support to improve parents’ education and learning and improve child and family health and life chances overall.
The widespread public feedback on the consultation last autumn helped shape the proposals for future delivery of the services. From 1 July 2016 children’s centre services will be delivered in 17 dedicated children’s centre buildings in areas of highest need while in other areas the staff will deliver the services from a range of community settings at flexible times to meet local need.
All children’s centre services will be linked to one of four geographical clusters with clear ways of accessing help and advice. Spurgeons will deliver children’s centre services in the east, west and south of Wiltshire while The RISE Trust will deliver services in the north.
Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children’s services said: “It’s important these services provide much-needed support to families and ensure all children can have a good start in life.
“This new model means we can invest wisely and continue to employ key staff to provide the essential support which will have the most positive impact on our young people. In some places this will be in community venues delivering advice and support at the right times for families.”
The contract with The RISE Trust, a Chippenham based community charity, will mean King’s Rise Centre in Chippeham will stay open.
Pauline Monaghan OBE, chief executive officer of the RISE Trust said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have won the contract for North Wiltshire because it means we can carry on running our three centres in Chippenham. The support we had to keep King’s Rise Children’s Centre open was amazing and thanks to the efforts of local people it will be staying open. The RISE Trust is looking forward to taking its services out to the other towns and villages in North Wiltshire.
“We are totally committed to giving each of the new areas we will be serving from the first of July the kinds of services the people of Chippenham have been receiving for the past eight years. We are looking forward to getting to know our new children and families and we will be delighted to welcome them at all of our sessions and events very soon.”
Spurgeons Chief Executive Ross Hendry said: “Spurgeons has a proud record of supporting children, young people and families in Wiltshire since 2011 so we are delighted to extend our network of children’s centres across the county and establishing deeper roots with communities across the county.
“We have almost 150 years’ history of delivering high-quality services and as a children’s charity we’re committed to giving every child and family who needs our help a better present and hopeful future. We do that inclusively and look forward to working with the council, local communities, and others who want to support children and families.”
The majority of the vacated children’s centre buildings will be used to provide extra childcare facilities to meet the new government policy on extending free entitlement to childcare for three and four year olds.