Council take over children’s centres

RESIDENTS have expressed fears that services at children’s centres in Doncaster will suffer after plans to put them under local authority control were approved.

Doncaster Council’s cabinet rubber stamped proposals for the council to manage all 21 children’s centres directly after the uncertain future for funding after March 2013 was highlighted.

But some fear the scandal hit council - that came under fire after the Free Press uncovered the deaths of seven vulnerable children known to the authority - will ruin the service.

Michael Burdis, church council cecretary of St Andrew’s Methodist Church, which supports the children’s centre in Beckett Road that is currently run by Action for Children said; “We are extremely disappointed that Doncaster Council, with its recent shocking record in respect of its management of child care issues, should now believe it is capable of matching the level of service achieved by an organisation that has worked tirelessly in this field since 1869.

“Our concern is that the quality of service will be reduced to the detriment of children and their families who are most in need within our society.”

The retired senior police officerfears if the savings required are not achieved that centres such as the one in Beckett Road will ultimately be closed.

Chris Pratt, director of the children and young people’s service, said: “Although there is still work to be done, there has been considerable improvement in Doncaster’s Children’s Services, and Ofsted have recognised that in recent inspections. Six of the 21 Children’s Centres are already successfully run by the council.

“Children’s centres are at the heart of our communities. We really value them and the services they provide to families, and we are determined to do what is best for their long term future.”

Currently the council runs six children’s and the other 15 are managed by partners, including Action for Children, school governing bodies, RDaSh, and the Brighter Futures Learning Partnership Trust.