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Decision to be made on the transformation of early help services

2 August 2017

Medway Council’s Cabinet will next week decide on a recommendation to remodel its children’s centres and early help services.

The council has had to look at new and innovative ways to support Medway’s young families due to changes in government funding arrangements for early years’ provision and the ongoing requirement to reduce its own budgets.

A comprehensive six-week consultation, which included 42 community and professional engagement meetings, was held between 31 May and 12 July to give local people the opportunity to find out more about the initial proposals and to have their say on the plans. More than 900 people submitted feedback.

Listening to the public's feedback 

The public’s feedback was reported to Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, 1 August and the feedback received has helped inform the final proposal being put to Cabinet on Tuesday, 8 August. The proposed model will restructure the service to best meet families’ needs within budgetary constraints.

Currently the early years service runs from 19 children’s centres and the proposed model recommends that there will be 13 centres in future. Four of these centres will be new children and family hubs. The hubs will be supported by nine children and family wellbeing centres, which will run out of existing children’s centres. In addition, there will be outreach work in the community and in people’s own homes. This model will allow the council to continue to meet its statutory responsibilities for early childhood services and reduce inequality, targeting the most vulnerable children and families.

Children and family hubs

The children and family hubs will primarily provide multi-agency support to those with greater needs, who require additional help and support. The proposed locations for the new hubs are at:

  • Gun Lane Children’s Centre (All Faiths) in Strood and Strood Youth Centre
  • All Saints in Chatham (which is an existing children’s centre)
  • Wayfield in Chatham
  • Woodlands in Gillingham

Children and family wellbeing centres

The children and family wellbeing centres will deliver universal health services as well as targeted support based on each community’s needs. The proposed sites for the wellbeing centres are at St James’ in Grain, Bligh, Delce, Lordswood, Oaklands, Saxon Way, Hand in Hand at Twydall, Deanwood and Riverside.

If Cabinet agrees on the proposed remodel, implementation could start in early 2018.

Public thanked for their feedback

Cllr Andrew Mackness, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, said: “Providing support and opportunities for Medway’s children remains a key priority for the council. We have had some tough decisions to make following changes in government funding.

“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to submit feedback or come along to one of the sessions to find out more information about the proposals. We have listened to the public’s feedback and used this to design a model for our early help services that best meets everyone’s needs and can achieve the £1.6million that we are required to save.

“I will be recommending to Cabinet on 8 August that early help services are provided through 13 centres, of which four will become new children and family hubs. The hubs will provide multi-agency services to the children and families within our communities who need and deserve our targeted help and support.”

The proposed model is anticipated to be published on Medway Council’s website on Thursday, 3 August – visit the ‘Calendar of meetings’ page and select the Cabinet papers.