Children and family centres will stay open

CHILDREN and family centres in West Sussex were granted a reprieve when West Sussex County Council announced it will keep all 49 centres open.

On Tuesday (April 12) the council announced it plans to keep all centres open.

Member for children and families, Peter Evans, said: “As people are probably aware, in some parts of the country there are proposals to close children and family or Sure Start centres.

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“I am pleased to say that in West Sussex we are not proposing to adopt this approach.”

He said the centres provide an “invaluable service” and would be at the “cutting edge” of Think Family early intervention and family support plans.

A report on the service is to be considered by the council’s children and young people’s services select committee on Wednesday, April 20.

Councillors will be asked for their comments before a final decision is taken by Mr Evans.

The report outlines a new management model with proposals including moving to a “cluster management model”.

This will involve merging the management of Storrington and Pulborough and Rural Steyning and Henfield.

Some of the savings from reduced management costs will be used to fund new front-line centre co-ordinator posts.

The report said there would be an overall reduction in children and family centre staff but the council would try to avoid job losses.

It also outlines a new funding formula.

A county council spokesman said there would be “detailed staff consultation” before any changes are made.

Parents and centre users will also be consulted.

Mr Evans said: “This consultation will also provide a useful opportunity to obtain the view of parents so that each centre can plan and offer services that respond to local needs and priorities.”

Richard Burrett, chairman of the select committee, said: “Children and family centres are an important resource and a focal point in local communities.

“I am sure members of the committee will welcome the opportunity to examine the principles and proposals for the future management of children and family centres.”