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Plans launched to save Norwich children's centres

Archant © 2011

Plans to avoid government cuts damaging the quality of service delivered by Norwich's 10 children's centres have been announced, as Norfolk County Council attempts to protect its services for vulnerable children.

Norfolk County Council has launched a consultation on the future of all 54 of its centres in the county and is looking to merge management and administration at several centres, in order to drive down costs and protect services.

The changes are needed because of new government policy, which mean children’s centres need to change their focus, become more accountable and reach at least 600 children.

The council wants to ensure it can continue to provide a range of support to children under five and their families, including links to childcare, health services and employment advice.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We are not planning to close any centres and want to ensure all of Norfolk’s under-fives can continue to access a range of services.

“The focus has to be on identifying needs at the earliest opportunity and developing services that best fit with the needs of each community.

“We know that children’s centres are really valued by Norfolk’s families and we want to protect the many fantastic services they deliver to their communities.”

Parents, carers and partners in education, health and the voluntary sector are being asked for their views on how centres should run. The focus is on changing the structure of the centres and working with more voluntary and community organisations.

Ahead of the formal consultation proposals to amalgamate the management of 14 centres with less than 600 children under five in their area have been put forward and other centres in areas with less deprivation could also be amalgamated.

The consultation ends on 18 April and a decision will be made in June 2011. Any changes will come into effect in April 2012.

To take part visit www.YourNorfolkYourSay.org, email childrenscentrecommissioning@norfolk.gov.uk, write to Children’s Centre Consultation, Children’s Services, Room 37, County Hall, Martineau Lane NR1 2DL, or phone 01603 223762.

Are you worried about the impact funding cuts will have on education? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or on email at david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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