I’m saddened but not surprised by the news this morning…250 Sure Start Children’s Centres could be forced to shut their doors within the next twelve months leaving a massive void for the families they serve. I know, because I am one. Over the last month Freya and I have played, laughed, sung and chatted at our local centre at least once a week, if not three times. So we will miss the company, fun and support they offer if our local one is forced to close.
The role they provide is huge. How? The grandparents-turned-full-time-carers who have a place to take active toddlers to let off steam. The mums and dads who find the four walls of their home just aren’t enough for their energy-filled babies all day long. The children who play with paper and crayons, playdough, trucks and train tracks, the centres give them the invaluable chance to interact with other babies of the same age. All of these people not only enjoy their local children’s centre but often, they use it as an important crutch which gets them through each day.
But it looks like they could be becoming a thing of the past… a story in the Telegraph this morning has revealed charities believe not only could 250 children’s centre’s close within a year, but 2000 more will be forced to provide a reduced service, staff at 1,000 risk losing their jobs and in total 60,000 families could lose access to their local centre, because of cuts to local council budgets.
As someone who regularly queues up at my local centre because it’s too full to get in – I know this is going to have huge impact. I know these are cost-saving times but just last October, George Osborne said they would be protected in cash terms, and in December David Cameron praised the work they do. So why do they have to go?