Thursday, 12 September 2013

Sure Start Children’s Centres. The fight continues

By Cllr Jenny Matterface

On Thursday September 12 th I was privileged to spend the morning in Dover at one of the centres that is to close with Sharon Hodgson, MP, Shadow Children’s Minister, Clair Hawkins the prospective parliamentary candidate for Dover and Deal, local Labour councillors and county councillors along with parents, carers and other involved parties.

For me, apart from the pleasure of meeting Sharon and the other elected officials, the main focus was hearing the parents who care so much for their local centre and can say what it has done for them. I heard stories and experiences so similar to those I’ve heard from the users of the Callis Grange Sure Start Centre that it reinforces my determination to do what I can to keep Callis Grange Centre fully-funded and fully-opened. Any cut in hours or budget is merely the thin end of the wedge. Next year a bit more, the year after a bit more and so on.

I talked to one mother who said that the support she’d had from the centre had helped her cope with two disabled children, learning parenting skills to handle their tantrums and very specific problems. Another said the most difficult bit was that first step through the front door. I was told by a parent whose children had been in care that she was now able to manage and that if the centre and others like it were to close, she fears a massive burden will fall on the already over-worked Social services. Like the Callis Grange centre these parents would have to access other centres that aren’t so easy to reach. The cabinet member at County Hall responsible for children’s services told me ‘no-one will be more than a 15 minute drive from another centre’ apparently being unaware that not everyone has a car or even access to one.

Sharon Hodgson said that David Cameron prior to the 2010 election promised to support children’s centres but didn’t ‘ring-fence’ the funding so that KCC can divert funds to other areas or cut drastically.

If you haven’t yet completed the consultation form please do so and sign our online or paper petition.

or for our petition google  saveoursurestarts/kent and follow the link.

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