Consultation (closed)

Frequently asked questions

Why is this review taking place?

Over the past four years Devon County Council has reduced its spending from £600 million a year to £500 million by cutting waste, reducing management and staff numbers.  The latest Government spending review means we now need to save a further £100 million over the next three years.  To do this we have to look again at everything we do and make tough choices about a number of services, including Children’s Centre Services.

Even without the financial pressures, we have already seen the need to review how Children’s Centre Services are delivered, to make them more flexible, efficient and effective.  As the current contracts are coming to an end, this is our first opportunity to look at how these services should be delivered in the future.

Who does this review affect?

  • Anyone currently using a Children’s Centre within Devon County Council boundaries
  • Expectant parents living within Devon County Council boundaries
  • Children’s Centre staff and Management staff
  • Other stakeholders including voluntary and community sector providers, health representatives, and any groups or individuals with an interest in Children’s Centre Services.

How much are DCC proposing to reduce the Children’s Centre Services budget by?

Following an initial 5% reduction, the current contract value of Devon Children’s Centres is £8.6m for 2014/15.  This will need to be reduced by a further 15% to £7.3m by 2017.

What is Devon’s statutory duty regarding Children’s Centre Services?

Statutory guidance (Childcare Act 2006) states that the local authority (Devon County Council) has a duty to;

  • Improve the well-being of young children in the area and to reduce inequalities
  • Secure sufficient provision of children’s centres to meet local need, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • Make arrangements to provide, in an integrated manner, early childhood services and work with ‘relevant partners’ (health services and Jobcentre Plus) and consider providing services such as health and employment support through a children’s centre
  • Reduce inequalities between young children, and to take steps to identify parents or prospective parents who are unlikely to take advantage of early childhood services that may be of benefit, and to encourage them to take advantage of these services
  • Take all reasonable steps to encourage and facilitate the involvement of a range of persons including in particular early years providers in their area (including those in the private and voluntary sectors), in the arrangements made for providing integrated early childhood services.

What are the benefits of the Children’s Centre review?

The Children’s Centre Review will ensure that;

  • We continue to improve the lives of young children and their families
  • Children’s Centre Services remain accessible to families in greatest need within their own community
  • We make sure money is spent on supporting families in greatest need and those living in rural areas
  • We keep a service which is open to all (delivered in partnership with Health), as well as providing  targeted services to the most vulnerable families
  • We  give  families more flexibility by offering  services in different areas
  • We continue to work in partnership with Health, Adult Learning and Job Centre Plus
  • Children’s Centres Services support the Early Help offer and continue to work with families identified through the Targeted Families Programme

We make sure money is spent on services for young children and families, rather than on buildings and other County Council responsibilities

Will my Children’s Centre close?

As part of our consultation we are proposing changes to the way Children’s Centre Services are delivered.  These changes will affect the whole of Devon, and include proposals to reduce the number of Children’s Centre buildings we have, but at the same time increase the number of services provided from other places in the community.

Decisions about what will happen to individual Children’s Centre buildings will be made after all consultation feedback has been considered, and the final model for service delivery has been approved by Devon Council County Cabinet.  Changes to individual Children’s Centre buildings will then happen as the final model is applied to each area in Devon, as current service contracts are re-commissioned.

Put simply, there will still be Children’s Centre Services that all families can access, but where you go to these services may change.  This change will happen over the next three years.

How do I find out more and get involved?

Formal consultation will take place from 22 April 2014 to the 6 June 2014.

The consultation includes:

The consultation is also being publicised by Healthwatch to make sure as many people as possible are aware of the review and can have their say.

You can also send any comments, questions or queries regarding the review to childrenscentrereview-mailbox@devon.gov.uk.

What happens next?

The consultation ends on the 6 June 2014.  After this time all the consultation responses will be collated and considered in full, before a final proposal is made to Devon County Council Cabinet for approval.  Following this, the final model for service delivery will be applied to each area when the service is due to be re-commissioned.