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Children's centre changes happen today across Bucks

35 become 16 Family Centres, with BCC saying more people can be reached.

Published by Dan Gooding at 1:39pm 2nd September 2019. 4-minute read.

Children's centre changes happen today across Bucks

16 family centres take over from 35 children's centres in Buckinghamshire today.

The changes come in after protests and a legal challenge against the idea, but the County Council were given the go-ahead.

BCC say these centres will offer:

  • Open access (universal) sessions for families with children aged 0-5 (on average 2 sessions per week, per centre).
  • Access to health clinics and drop-in sessions, run by health professionals.
  • Programme of targeted activities to support families 0-19 (up to 25 for those with special educational needs or disabilities) with specific challenges.
  • Parenting group sessions, youth mentoring, support for young carers, support for those young people not in employment, education or training, healthy eating, budgeting and benefits and other community-led activities.
  • Drop-in support, advice and guidance at Family Centre Plus sites, five days a week.
  • Family Centre Plus sites will be open for families to drop-in to get advice and to discuss any issues. Some health services will also be delivered from these centres, providing additional expertise and opportunities to identify emerging concerns that might require additional support.

The Family Support Service aims to help these families to overcome their problems before they get worse and reach crisis point - so that in the longer term they become more self-sufficient and lead happier, healthier lives.

Families will be helped directly in their homes or other places where they are comfortable such as libraries or community spaces as well as being able to go to specific sessions at the family centres. 

The 16 family centres will also offer a programme of activities for all Buckinghamshire families with children up to the age of 19 (or 25 for children with special educational needs or a disability (SEND). 

Family centres are spread across the whole of Buckinghamshire, with three being 'Family Centre Plus' sites

  • Southcourt Family Centre Plus (Aylesbury)
  • Mapledean Family Centre Plus (Wycombe)
  • Newtown Family Centre Plus (Chesham).

These centres will offer drop in advice and support five days a week.

Timetables of activities on at the family centres can be seen online via the Buckinghamshire Family Information Service website.

The Buckinghamshire Family Information Service has comprehensive information on all aspects of family life, from activities, to childcare to SEND services and much more and is a valuable resource for all Buckinghamshire families. 

Families with younger children (0-5) will be able to go to open sessions at their local family centre, as well as being able to access the health services and drop-in clinics they already use. 

Warren Whyte is Buckinghamshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Children's Services.

He said:

"I'm delighted to see the new Family Support Service start from today. 

"The new Family Support Service integrates the general support we provide to local families with a more targeted approach for those who need a higher level of help from us. 

"It's been essential for us to make these changes as previously we weren't able to get help to families quickly and effectively enough when problems emerge - this has contributed to an increase in the numbers of children needing social care input. 

"Parents of young children will still be able to go to classes, see health visitors and access their usual services at their closest family centre, which will offer flexible opening hours and develop a wider range of activities than many of the children's centres did previously. There will be open sessions at our family centres for any family with children of any age who would like a little extra guidance or support. 

"This new service is a key element of how we intend to reduce school exclusions and reduce the numbers of children needing social care involvement."

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