«Report from the Strategic Director of Children and Young People For Action Wards Affected: ALL Future Development of Children’s Centres 1.0 Summary ...»
10 November 2014
Report from the Strategic
Director of Children and Young People
Future Development of Children’s Centres
1.1 This paper sets out proposals to consult with staff and service users on the
development of a sustainable model for the borough’s children’s centres provision to
be implemented from September 2015. The aim of this process would be to retain
and current service levels, while improving outputs and outcomes for 0 to 5 year olds while delivering efficiency savings.
2.1 That Cabinet approves officers commencing a programme of consultation and engagement with service users, staff and other stakeholders, reporting back to Cabinet in January 2015 with proposals for a sustainable model of delivery for the children’s centres.
3.1 Brent’s children’s centres provide:
• Services that support school readiness, health and wellbeing and effective parenting outcomes for families with children aged 0-4, particularly those with greater levels of need.
• Multi agency support with onsite delivery of health visiting, midwifery services, Job Centre Plus, adult education and CAB plus other voluntary sector providers.
• Early intervention: using the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) to identify family concerns, promote safeguarding and link with social care.
3.2 Current service locations are as follows:
3.2.1 Harlesden locality
• Curzon Crescent (and Challenge satellite)
• St Raphael’s 3.2.2 Kilburn locality
• Granville Plus
• Three Trees (and Hope satellite) 3.2.3 Kingsbury locality
• Church Lane (and Mt Stewart satellite)
• Willow including Willow Nursery 3.2.4 Wembley locality
• Welcome (and Barham Library satellite)
• Wembley Primary (and Preston Park satellite) 3.2.5 Willesden locality
3.3 Over the last year, Ofsted has begun to inspect children’s centres on a locality basis.
For a ‘good’ service, they expect to find evidence that at least 80 per cent of families with children aged 0-4 are known to children’s centres and at least 65 per cent of ‘target group’ households are engaged in outcomes based support. The target group comprises households where no adults are in paid work, families that have a CAF, or are assessed as a Child in Need, on a Child Protection Plan, Looked After or who qualify for the two year old free entitlement for Nursery Education Grant or children with disabilities/additional needs.
3.4 Ofsted also expects to see quality and impact of practice and services with evidence of the extent to which target group children and families are securing positive outcomes in relation to child development and school readiness; parenting aspirations, self-esteem and parenting skills; and child and family health and life chances. They also expect to see effective governance, leadership and management. Advisory boards and parents must be involved in supporting and challenging the CC’s work and setting priorities for improvement. The Ofsted ratings of our children’s centre localities are as follows, with the last three inspections having
Willesden - Requires improvement, awaiting re-inspection Kingsbury - Requires improvement, awaiting re-inspection Wembley T1 - Good Wembley T2 - Good Harlesden T1 - Good Harlesden T2 - Not yet inspected, inspection due 2|Page Kilburn - Not yet inspected, inspection due
3.5 In 2011/12 the change to a locality model of working created more consistent and efficient working whereby shared management and staff teams operate across multiple sites. This has also led to a significant increase in partner delivery of services in children’s centres (especially health visiting, midwifery and Job Centre Plus). Central management was reduced substantially, refocused on Brent’s statutory obligations for sufficiency of children’s centres, performance management and ensuring integrated early childhood services.
3.6 This model of working is contributing to the centres achieving their targets in attracting the most disadvantaged families as well as delivering improved outcomes for children and families, with increasing numbers of children from target families being ready for school, increased number of families where a CAF has been in place who do not require Social Care intervention. The completion rates of accredited parenting programmes are good with impact on parenting for some of the most vulnerable families.
Statutory obligations – children’s centres
3.7 The Childcare Act 2006 makes local authorities responsible for the provision of children’s centres, working with partners in health and Job Centre Plus particularly to ensure integrated early childhood services from children’s centres and to meet obligations about the inspection of children’s centres.
3.8 The statutory guidance for children’s centres (May 2012) and the Ofsted inspection framework for children’s centres (April 2013) emphasise the essential role of local authorities in ensuring sufficient children’s centres to deliver positive outcomes for families with young children, particularly for families with greater levels of need. In
addition, local authorities must ensure:
3.8.1 good quality performance management of children’s centres with requirements to set and monitor progress against targets and to provide outcomes and profile data of the reach area.
3.8.2 children’s centres conform with all safeguarding requirements and have links with Children’s Social Care to address any safeguarding needs as quickly as possible.
3.8.3 integrated services that support school readiness, health wellbeing and effective parenting outcomes for families with children aged 0-4 years, particularly those with greater levels of need. This to be jointly with partners including Health and Job Centre Plus.
3.9 Under section 98C of the Childcare Act 2006, the local authority’s obligations in relation to Ofsted framework of inspection for children’s centres emphasises contact with at least 65 per cent of target families actively engaged in support available from children’s centres as the minimum expectation for a ‘good’ children’s centre.
3.10 For 2014/15 the direct children’s centre budget is £2.512m.
3.11 The service is led by the Head of Early Years and Family Support who also sits on all of the Advisory Boards to offer support and challenge, is required to be part of any Ofsted inspection and involved in drawing up subsequent action plans.
3.12 Children’s centres receive support from the central Early Years Team in terms of training, quality and data/performance monitoring. They also receive central support for budget monitoring, management, HR support, and Health and Safety support with some centres receiving support from property and asset management.
3.13 Each locality has a Business Support Officer managed through the BIBS service but based in a children’s centre. The budgets for these support services sit outside the current children’s centres budget but could be impacted by the proposed changes described below.
3.14 There are a number of contracts covering services such as speech and language service in the centres and one with Citizens Advice Bureau to deliver a service in children’s centres. These are essential to meet core outcomes and provide a high quality service. There are also various spot purchased, smaller contracts for other service delivery but children’s centre staff and strategic partners (particularly health and JCP) deliver most of the services. The two main contracts cost approx. £600K and a new two year contract was agreed starting April 2014.
3.15 A provider is also commissioned centrally to deliver crèche facilities across the centres. This is an essential element to both deliver high quality experience for young children and to enable parents/carers to attend groups/trainings (parenting, adult education, preparation for work, etc) knowing their children are well cared for on site.
Current and proposed change programme
3.16 The change programme for children’s centres to deliver savings and a sustainable
service going forward is in three phases:
3.17 Phase One comprised the deletion of children’s centre locality management from the organisational structure (one tier of middle management). The statutory functions for sufficiency, integrated early childhood service planning and performance management were incorporated into the central team of Early Years and Family Support Service. Consultation took place with three affected members of staff and the posts were deleted from the structure from 1 April 2014 with the full budget saving of £154k being achieved for 2014/15.
3.18 Phase Two comprises the reconfiguration of Barham Library Children’s Centre, St Raphael’s Intergenerational Centre and Treetops Children’s Centre to provide children’s centre nursery places via private and voluntary providers. This change was approved by Cabinet in July and the early years team is working with Property Services and Legal Services to develop suitable agreements and get the new provision in place.
3.20 Under this model the selected provider will resource and develop the required universal services and the Local Authority will fund the targeted Early Intervention services for the most vulnerable families. Under this model the strategic role for the Early Years Service will be to secure good quality children’s centres, challenge practice and performance management, supporting good Ofsted outcomes and focusing resources on the targeted households and other families with additional needs.
3.21 Essentially this model attempts to deliver a similar level of service to the current model (or potentially better) for a reduced level of resourcing from the local authority.
It looks to future sustainability, since external service providers will have the ability to leverage in additional funds from their own contacts for example the National Lottery, European funding, etc which the current service, as a council service, cannot access.
3.22 The partnership delivery model proposed is one that has been put in place in other local authorities and there are several strong providers present in the market. The contract would specify outcomes from the centres and the council would fund the targeted work, while the contractor would be expected to provide universal services using volunteers and by raising funding from other sources. They would be given the use of the buildings such that they could diversify community use if it contributed to the essential aims of the children’s centres and the core services were successfully delivered. This has the potential for wider community benefits.
3.23 The local authority would retain its statutory responsibilities around sufficiency, quality and data provision to whoever manages the service and any agreement will specifically address this and allow access and opportunity to fulfil the requirements.
3.24 This recommendation to consult excludes the children’s centres managed by SLA by the Governing Body of Curzon and Fawood Maintained Nursery schools (Fawood, Curzon and Challenge House children’s centres). This is because at these centres, the children’s centre functions are fully integrated within the Fawood and Curzon Children’s Centre Partnership with efficiency in terms of support and overheads as well as good outcomes. The Partnership Governing Body through an SLA has responsibility for three sites, including Challenge House.
3.25 The Curzon and Fawood Partnership SLA operates without any payment for overheads such as HR, ITU or business support. This Partnership also draws less on the central team, in terms of training, pre-post Ofsted support, etc since they operate with the autonomy of a school.
3.26 The physical integration of centre and nursery provision is complete in particular at Fawood where it was built as an integrated centre, so that to change or disaggregate this would be difficult and costly.
3.27 The Partnership has had successive successful children’s centre Ofsted inspections;
indeed the latest report highlights the quality of the work that could support others and the headteacher is currently seconded part time to lead the quality team in the local authority. The leadership of the Partnership has also been utilised to work and support other centres over time. It would not be appropriate to change this successful partnership arrangement and keeping this outside the proposed contract is not thought, at this stage, to affect the viability of the package.
Experience of other local authorities
3.28 Clearly children’s centre cost savings are a live issue for the majority of local authorities. It appears from discussion with London DCSs that other London authorities are achieving cost savings by moving to a locality model and therefore reducing management and staff costs by having a team working across a group of centres. This saving has been banked already in Brent. Some local authorities have closed a large number of children’s centres and diminished the service.
3.29 Information on other authorities’ approach to savings is limited but Appendix One shows the experience of four local authorities in going down the partnership route