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Children centres

Volume 732: debated on Tuesday 9 May 2023

The petition of the residents of the constituency of Dover and Deal,

Declares that children’s centres have a vital role in the community and that the provision of children and family hub services should continue to be provided in Deal and Walkmer and further that Blossom’s Children’s Centre should be retained in recognition of its post-natal and breastfeeding support as well as its sensory room.

The petitioners therefore urge the Government to encourage Kent County Council to ensure the vital importance of Blossom’s Children Centre is recognised and the provision of Children’s services in Deal and Walmer continues to be fully supported.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mrs Natalie Elphicke, Official Report, 29 March 2023; Vol. 730, c. 1111.]


Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Claire Coutinho):

The Government are investing around £300 million to enable 75 local authorities, including Kent, to create family hubs, and to improve vital services to give every baby the best start in life, including support for parenting, perinatal mental health, parent-infant relationships, and infant feeding:

Access to high quality infant feeding, perinatal mental health, and parent-infant relationship services in the post-natal period are pivotal in supporting new parents and families to thrive, and part of the funding that Kent will receive through the Family hubs and Start for Life programme will be to enhance these services in their locality. Across the Kent County Council family hub network, plans to support and help women to breastfeed include targeting provision of maternity wear and infant feeding resources, such as breast pumps, to those most in need.

An additional £28 million has also been made available to these 75 local authorities to improve early language development, by supporting parents to help their children learn at home.

This new investment builds on previous investment to champion family hubs—including a £12 million transformation fund to open family hubs in a further 12 local authorities in England.

Family hubs are ‘one stop shops’ that make it easier for families to get the support they need. The hub approach means professionals and partners working together more effectively, with a focus on supporting and strengthening the family relationships that carry us all through life.

The family hub model builds on what we have learned from children’s centres. Family hubs bring together services for children of all ages and so respond to the needs of the whole family.

Decisions on how best to meet the needs of the local population have always been for the council concerned. Sure Start children’s centres can form part of a family hub network. Our National Centre for Family Hubs will work to ensure that councils understand how they can best be incorporated where it is appropriate.

Statutory guidance makes it clear where councils decide to close a children’s centre site they should demonstrate that children and families, particularly the most disadvantaged, will not be adversely affected.