Parents to be allowed to run children’s centres

Parents and communities are to be allowed to run their local children’s centre, under new plans announced by the Government.

Parents and communities are to be allowed to run their local children’s centre, under new plans announced by the Government.

The Government will consult in the autumn on changes to children’s centres, including proposals that will enable parents and community groups to apply to their local authority to run a children’s centre in their local area. Under the plans, local authorities, not the Government, would have the final say on whether projects go ahead. 

The Government also confirmed that a further 18 local authorities will trial payment by results for children’s centres. Together with the first wave announced in July, 27 local authorities will be testing rewards for reaching the most vulnerable families, improving family health and wellbeing and raising attainment of children at age five.

As part of wider reforms to the core purpose of children’s centres, the Government says it wants to see a clearer focus on reaching the most disadvantaged families and more work to help narrow the attainment gap between wealthier and poorer children that is evident from as early as 22 months.

The Government has also announced that it will offer parents of under fives vouchers to attend parenting classes as it says parents are the biggest influence on their children in the early years.

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said: "Children’s centres are at the heart of community life. New proposals to enable parents and communities to help run children’s centres will give local people more control and influence over the services they use on a daily basis.

"We know many children’s centres are doing fantastic work, but there is still more to be done to reach the poorest families. Children’s centres are a powerful tool in tackling social inequality and we want to make sure they are giving children, regardless of background, the chance to develop well and be ready for school."

In addition, the Department for Education will be working with the National College to recruit three regional outreach leaders. The leaders will work alongside the National College’s Foundation Years Associates, to support and advise children’s centres across the country. Their role will be to help share best practice and advocate effective approaches to targeting the most disadvantaged families.

Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children, said: “The announcement of 18 further local authorities who will trial payment by results in their children’s centres marks an important development in family support.  The payment by results approach has real potential to encourage and reward the excellent outcomes children’s centres achieve in their work with families. These trials will be crucial in establishing fair systems which are fully inclusive for all types of providers and incentivise continuing support for vulnerable families with complex needs. 

“4Children also strongly supports the introduction of vouchers for parenting classes which can provide families with invaluable help during those crucial early years.  Offering help to families from a wide range of backgrounds will be key to de-stigmatising family support and recognising that all parents need help from time to time.”

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