Threat to jobs at Sure Start Children's Centres

Threat to jobs at Sure Start Children's Centres

Francis Batt

Threat to jobs at Sure Start Children's Centres

Sure Start centres across the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have been saved but some of the staff may lose their jobs.

Councillors agreed at a cabinet meeting last month to continue financing the borough's nine Sure Start children's centres, providing services for children under five and their parents. They had been threatened by the withdrawal of government funding.

But today there has been grim news for the staff who run the centres.

Cllr Eileen Quick, (Con, Clewer East), cabinet member for children's services, warned that costs had to be reduced. She said: "This will mean reorganising the workforce and unfortunately some posts will be lost. But we will do our very best to redeploy affected staff wherever possible."

The nine centres will no longer be managed and administered on site. Instead the borough will introduce a new streamlined arrangement with just three managers, in Maidenhead, Windsor and Datchet and support workers moving between centres.

Cllr Eileen Quick said that more than 900 people had participated in a survey about the future of the Sure Start centres. She said they had made it clear there was a demand to keep them all open.

The borough is pledging to continue the popular activities and play sessions, while working with families that need specific support and widening the range of activities outside normal centre sessions.

Cllr Quick said services would stay free for parents or carers on benefits. But she said 75 per cent of parents consulted during the consultation had agreed it was fair to make a small charge for some services to those who could afford it.

She said: "We need to pay for materials used in play sessions. For example, children might make their own 'volcanoes' using Playdough, glitter and bicarbonate of soda. It is fun and they learn the physics of how a volcano happens."

Cllr Quick said she could not say what the cost of some sessions might be but added: "People pay £3.50 to take children into the leisure centre and it would be much less than that."

COMMENT: Does your child attend a Sure Start centre? What do you think of the service and the proposed changes? Tell us in the box below.

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