Kent County Council proposes to close 35 of the 79 Children's Centre buildings across Kent, a reduction of 44%.
This change is forecast to save £6.9m over the next 5 years of which £4m will be redeployed to outreach work to replace the services affected. This leaves a £2.9m saving over 5 years equating to £580,000 saving per year. This represents a 1.1% saving on the 2019/20 annual running costs of £51m of included buildings and services.
West Kent impact
From our reading of the proposal document, 21 children’s centres will remain in West Kent from a current total of 37. This represents a reduction of 43% in West Kent. In particular, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells and rural areas of Paddock Wood/ Marden look to be particularly affected.
The proposal suggests that all remaining children’s centres will be developed into ‘Family Hubs’ where both local authority and partner organisation services for children and families will be co-located.
The proposal document suggests that additional outreach activities in community buildings are planned to reduce the impact of this change. In particular we would like to understand what will be the impact on:
# of in-person breastfeeding support sessions available per week in each area
# of in-person drop-in parent and baby/ toddler sessions (Stay and Plays, Messy Play, Baby Groups etc) available per week in each area
# of in-person health visiting and baby weight clinics available per week in each area
More information is available on the KCC consultation page here.
The consultation is running from 17th January 2023 to 26th March 2023. KCC’s proposals are due to be updated after the consultation when community feedback has been received. A final decision on the specific location of the buildings is due in late summer 2023 with changes starting from early 2024.
Drop-In Q&A events running across Kent from 2nd February 2023 to 10th March 2023. Local events include:
Little Forest Children’s Centre Tunbridge Wells: Thursday 2 February - 4pm to 8pm
Tonbridge Youth and Children’s Centre: Friday 3 February - 4pm to 8pm
Southborough Hub: Tuesday 7 February - 10am to 1pm
Sevenoaks Library: Tuesday 7 March - 10am to 1pm
We encourage anyone interested to go along to a Q&A event and listen and ask questions.
Read the proposal and comment on the consultation here.