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Wednesday, 08 February 2012 12:15

Manchester's childrens centres to stay open but council daycare to go

 
Catherine Gaunt, 06 February 2012, 12:54pm
 
The council says that there is enough good quality and affordable childcare run by the private, voluntary and independent sector.
 
The plans will be put before the children and young people’s scrutiny committee tomorrow and will be considered by the council’s executive on 15 February.
 
Sure Start children’s centres will become community hubs offering a wider range of services to people of all ages, including early years, and a new citywide outreach service will be introduced.
The service will expand pilot outreach schemes already in place. Outreach workers will aim to visit every child in their own home in their first three years, by working closely with GPs, midwives and health visitors.
 
The proposals follow a three-month consultation that involved more than 8,000 meetings with parents and attracted more than 4,000 written responses with parents, schools, health staff and others.
 
The council has to cut £22m from its budget of £29m for early years provision.
The council said that it would ensure that there were enough high-quality, affordable childcare places available for families before withdrawing council-run nurseries.
 
Mike Livingstone, the council’s director of children’s services, said, ‘Our analysis shows there is already enough good quality and affordable daycare provision across the city being provided by the private, voluntary and independent sector, so over time we will no longer need to provide it ourselves.
 
‘What we do need to do, however, is to ensure that the right kind of quality daycare is available in the right places, so we’re going to spend the next two years making sure this happens.
 
‘We will only stop providing daycare in different parts of the city when we are satisfied that there is enough high quality alternative provision to meet the needs of local families.’
 
The impact of these changes will be assessed on a case by case basis and for families that would be worse off in work than out of work, additional support will be given through the Manchester Investment Fund.
 
The council says that the changes will lead to more families using Sure Start services and that this will improve outcomes for children and families.
Councillor Afzal Khan, executive member children’s services, said, ‘At the heart of our proposals is the need to ensure that Manchester parents are ready to parent, that children are ready for school, and that we do what we can to support more of our families into work.