Children’s Centres are not just buildings!
Cambridgeshire County Council is planning to cut £1m by reducing the number of children’s centres from 40 to 10. The National Education Union (NUT Section) rejects these austerity cuts to our children’s centres in Cambridgeshire. We call on the County Council to stand up for our communities and their dedicated and experienced workforce delivering quality early years provision.
Children’s centres provide universal services that enrich society by drawing communities together and averting crisis. Children’s centres have become adept at multi-agency working - housing, health, social care and education. Each setting has developed its practice and strengths to respond to the needs of the communities it serves.
The proposed move away from these centres being solely about early years’ intervention will undermine the expertise in relating to young children and their families. This will have catastrophic and damaging impact on the children, their families and the professionals who work with them.
Increased emphasis on use of the internet as an aspect of what the proposals are calling ‘frontline services’ reveals a lack of understanding about the about the nature of what children’s centres are about. The internet is anonymous, requires a certain level of technical literacy and self-motivation. Families in vulnerable situations need trusted relationships and the support of people to help them through difficult processes and decisions.
This proposed reorganisation compounds a crisis of funding across both our children’s centres and state funded nurseries, both of which have experienced funding cuts over several years.
Paula Champion, NEU Rep. and nursery teacher said:
“We recognise and value the distinctive expertise of other professionals working with young families, eg. speech and language, family support workers, and know they are crucial in removing barriers to learning and increasing young children’s chances. Our members working in these integrated settings are acutely aware that underfunding of the 30 hours provision and its link to a parent’s income has caused a further reduction in services available for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families in our communities. The Sutton Trust Report, Closing the Gap Early highlighted that there has been a shift away from quality early years education to affordable childcare for families. This current set of proposals will undermine the provision of such quality education in state funded nurseries in Cambridgeshire.”
Cambridge National Education Union (NUTU Section) feels that the proposals that are being put to the county council are so severely lacking in detail and concrete plans it would be a dereliction of duty for any councillor to accept them. We call for investment to be made in early intervention work, not cuts. We call on the County Council to reject the proposals and demand central government ensure our existing children’s centre provision remains intact.
We urge parents and teachers and anyone else concerned for the future of our children to join us in a lobby the County Council on Tuesday 10th (1.30pm) and 17th October (10.00pm) Shire Hall, Cambridge.