Consultation on the closure of two children's centres
Hackney Council is consulting on the closure of two children’s centres to make savings as well as changes that will protect services for young children into the future.
This follows the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and sustained Government cuts on the Council’s finances.
The proposed closures are:
- Hillside Children's Centre, in Holmleigh Road, N16
- Fernbank Children’s Centre, in Fountayne Road, N16.
All residents, and particularly those impacted or likely to be impacted in future by the proposed closures, are being asked to take part in the consultation.
A children’s centre is a place where local families with young children can go to enjoy facilities, and receive support that they need, including free parenting support.
The Council runs 20 children’s centres across the borough -- one of the highest numbers of any London borough -- all of which have been judged good or outstanding by Ofsted. Eleven of these offer childcare places, subsidised by the Council.
There is currently a 23% childcare vacancy rate in early years settings across the borough, which reflects a London-wide trend of falling reception class rolls. This means some centres are no longer viable in the current financial climate.
The two centres, earmarked for closure, are situated in an area where increasing numbers of children are attending independent settings; and they are two of five centres within a short walking distance of each other.
Twenty-three children in childcare are likely to be impacted by the time any changes happen. However, these families will be given priority in other settings. A small number of staff will be affected by the proposed changes; they are being consulted, and some may be redeployed.
The closures will allow the Council to focus its limited resources on making important changes and improvements, and to ensure they have the biggest impact for those who need them most.
- Developing ‘early years hubs’ in the north and south of the borough for children with complex needs.
- Changing six children’s centres into new ‘children and family hubs’ that bring together family support for children of ages 0 to 19 years.
- Joining early years and health visiting teams to provide combined support and guidance for young children and their families.
Every day we provide valued, practical advice and support to parents and carers as they navigate these early - and sometimes difficult - stages in a child’s development.
We’re proud that 94% of our nurseries and childminders are judged good or better by Ofsted; that 77% of reception pupils in our schools are achieving a good level of development by the end of their first school year; and that our children, young people and families services were recognised by Ofsted as being 'well-developed and effective'.
We have one of the highest numbers of full offer children's centres of any London borough. Closing any of them is not something we want to do. However, this will allow us to focus our limited resources to ensure they have the biggest impact on those who need them most.
We want to reassure residents that, despite the financial pressures we face as a council, we will always do our best to ensure our most vulnerable families have access to the childcare and respite they need.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the council’s finances has been profound. It spent tens of millions of pounds providing direct help and emergency response to residents and businesses. The crisis-spend comes on top of a more than a decade of sustained Government cuts, which has seen core funding nearly halved since 2010. As a result, the council needs to make many millions of savings in the next financial year, including £1 million in the Early Years Service.
The consultation proposals form part of the Council’s new Early Years Strategy, based on engagement with parents, carers and professionals. It sets out the council’s vision, priorities and principles that underpin all the services it provides for young children and their families, and outlines how it will protect those services into the future.
Take part in the consultation, which runs from Wednesday 15 September until Tuesday 16 November, at: consultation.hackney.gov.uk