The Council is facing huge financial pressures, and in these times it's more important than ever that your voices are heard. We would be grateful for your help in shaping the future of children’s centre services in Kingston.
The aim is to identify a new approach which, whilst more affordable, maintains high-quality services but with a more flexible and targeted focus which benefits those most in need. In addition, it provides an opportunity to bring more services together to create more family-focused centres which meet the needs of children and their parents and carers, all in one location. The proposed new offer will focus on the core outcomes for young children and their families of:
- child development and school readiness
- parenting aspirations and parenting skills
- child and family health and life chances.
This survey asks for your views on how we deliver children’s centre services in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (it should take around 10 minutes to complete).
If you would like any help completing the survey, or would like a paper copy, copies translated into different languages or an accessible version, please speak to staff at your nearest children's centre. Alternatively, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
There will be group discussions being held in January during the following sessions at Children's Centres. Please feel free to come along. This consultation will run for 7 weeks, from 13 December 2018 to 1 February 2019
|Date||Children's Centre||Time||During Session|
|Wednesday 9th January||Chessington||9.15am -11.15am||Stay and Play|
|Friday 11th January||Chessington||10am - 11am||Polish Group|
|Wednesday 23rd January||Surbiton||9.30am - 11am||Stay and Play|
|Monday 14th January||New Malden||9.30am - 11am||Baby Stay and Play|
|Friday 18th January||New Malden||12.30am - 2.30pm||ESOL|
|Friday 25th January||Old Malden||9.30am - 11.15am||Stay Play|
|Wednesday 16th January||Tolworth||9am - 10.30am||Let's Play|
|Monday 14th January||Kingston Town||9.30am -11am||Stay and Play|
|Wednesday 16th January||Kingston Town||1.30pm - 3pm||Busy Babies and Toddlers (for parents up to 24 years of age)|
|Tuesday 15th January||North Kingston||9.30am - 11am||Stay and Play|
|Wednesday 16th January||North Kingston||1pm - 2.30pm||Messy Play|
|Tuesday 15th January||Norbiton||9.30am -11am||Stay and Play|
|Wednesday 16th January||Norbiton||9.30am-12 midday||Practical Ideas for Happier Living (Adult Learning Course)|
Frequently asked questions
What are children’s centres?
The main purpose of children’s centres is to improve outcomes for young children and their families and reduce inequalities between families in greatest need and their peers, in three core areas:
- child development and school readiness
- parenting aspirations and skills
- child and family health and life chances
Children’s centres provide services which are either open to all families with children aged under five or are targeted at families with particular needs. These services are either provided from one of Kingston’s eight children’s centre buildings, or they are provided outside of children’s centres through outreach and signposting.
Local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure there are sufficient children’s centre services to meet the needs of children aged 0 - 4 years and their families in the three core areas listed above. This statutory duty is detailed in the following legislation:
- Sure Start Statutory Guidance 2013
- The Childcare Act 2006
- Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act (ASCL) 2009 which inserted new provisions into the Childcare Act 2006
- Safeguarding (references to existing legislation and guidance).
Why are we consulting on the future of children’s centre services?
We want to hear your views on the future of children’s centre services in Kingston.
The Council is facing huge financial pressures, and in these times it's more important than ever that your voices are heard.
Councils across the country are facing severe financial challenges. Since 2010, government funding to councils has fallen by an average of 40%, during a period when demand for council services (particularly, children and adult social care services, and education and transport services for children with special educational needs) has grown.
As a result, Kingston Council and Achieving for Children have had to make significant savings across our services in order to balance our overall budget. Because funding from central government for councils continues to fall, we have to continue to look at how we deliver our full range of services, to ensure that the reduced funding from government is spent in the most impactful way.
To make these savings, we are proposing a reorganisation of the current children’s centre service, to reduce costs and to re-focus service delivery in those areas with the highest need. This will mean providing some children’s centre services in the community, such as stay and play sessions, baby massage, and rhyme time (with a focus on speech and language). This will enable us to continue to meet the needs of families with children under five years.
How are children’s centres currently organised in Kingston?
There are currently eight sites in Kingston providing children’s centre services. Four of these are main (hub) centres (Surbiton, Chessington, Norbiton, Old Malden) which also coordinate services for the other four ‘satellite’ sites based in New Malden, Tolworth, Kingston Town and North Kingston.
Each centre has an identified number of 0 - 4 year olds they aim to engage with. We also deliver services from a range of other venues such as community centres, libraries and primary schools.
What has been considered in putting this proposal together?
- How services can be taken into the community, closer to the families and children that need them most (Outreach)
- The availability of alternative venues in which children’s centre services could be run in the community
- Our legal duty to ensure there is sufficient provision of children’s core purpose services in the community
- Information about attendance and usage of the eight children’s centres
- Information about the differences in need across the borough, including equalities impact information
- The need to save money whilst protecting current and future services
Didn’t the council already close two centres previously?
In 2014/15, following a period of public consultation, the buildings for two existing children's centres at Kingston Hill and West Chessington, attached to schools, had their designated usage changed to offering pre-nursery provision at Alexandra Infant School in the case of Kingston Hill and extending the nursery provision at Lovelace Primary School in the case of West Chessington. The consultation identified which services could be retained in the locality using outreach provision, and which could be hosted at other sites. These changes delivered approximately £60k of savings.
Why are the Council and Achieving for Children proposing to stop delivering children’s centre services from the Children’s Centre buildings?
The reasons why we are proposing that some of the children’s centre buildings will no longer be used for children’s centre services are:
- We need to save money while continuing to ensure that a range of good quality children’s centre services is accessible to all of our residents.
- There are other venues beyond our children’s centre building which host children’s centre services, such as community centres and primary schools.
- The need to retain our skilled workforce over buildings is important to ensure high-quality services are delivered and that families are able to positively benefit from the services offered.
How long is the consultation? How can people have their say?
The consultation will launch with an online survey on 13 December 2018 and will close on 1 February 2019. A printed version and access to the online survey will be available at all children’s centres with centre staff support available as needed.
There will also be focus group discussions held across all sites throughout the consultation period - please speak to staff at your nearest children’s centre to find out more.
If you have any other questions, or would like a paper copy or translated version of the survey, please speak to staff at your nearest children’s centre.
Who are the key stakeholders?
Parents and carers, our partners in health, midwifery, adult learning, Job Centre Plus, schools, and centre advisory boards.
Has an equality impact assessment been carried out to ensure that the most vulnerable people aren’t being impacted by this?
Yes, an equality impact assessment has been carried out to assess the impact which any proposed changes would have on the children and families who routinely use the facilities and attend activities. This is especially important in preventing a negative impact on families categorised as disadvantaged or vulnerable. The equality impact assessment has also been useful in identifying particular groups of children and families who can participate and contribute to the consultation process.
Is this decision final? Will the public be consulted?
No decision has been made. A decision on the proposals in this consultation will be made at the Adults and Children’s Care and Education Committee on 21 March 2019.
Will families be able to get access to the same services at other children’s centres?
If the proposal gets approved, there will be an overall reduction in the quantity of children’s centre services available in Kingston. However, we will be expanding the number of services we deliver through outreach, bringing services closer to the families that use them, and also helping us to reach families who do not currently visit children’s centre buildings.
We are also asking for your views on which existing children’s centre services you particularly value. We will then prioritise these when putting together our service offer for 2019-20.
Will families be left without children services provision in Kingston as part of these changes?
No. We will still continue to provide a wide range of children’s centre services for 0 - 4 year-olds across the borough. However, if the proposal is approved the sites where some activities will take place may change. This may mean people have to travel further to access some services.
What other services would be impacted? Don’t people use these centres for health check-ups and midwife appointments? What will happen to those services?
Partners are working with us to identify potential changes to the provision and we will work with them to identify alternative sites and venues to minimise impact. Health partners are fully involved in this process. The centres in areas of need will continue to provide health services throughout this process.
If the proposal to close goes ahead, what will happen to the sessions held at the centres which may close?
As part of the consultation, we are asking for your views on which services you particularly value. We are also asking for views on which other community venues you would be willing to access children’s centre services from. We will use this information to inform the service offer we put together for 2019 - 20. Although there will be a reduction in the quantity of services we deliver, we want to make sure that those services we do deliver are the ones which are most valued by families in the borough.
What happens next?
All feedback and views will be considered and the findings published. The responses received will inform the recommendations that will be put to the council for final approval. A decision on the future delivery model of children’s centre services will be made following this, taking into account all feedback.
How can you have your say?
There are several ways in which you can share your views:
- Online by completing this simple survey (link at top of this page)
- Complete a paper copy of this survey (available at all children’s centres in the borough) and hand it back to staff at any children’s centre.
- Attend a focus group at any of our children’s centres. Details will be published in the next few days, on this page and in children’s centres.