Halt the planned cuts to West Sussex Children and Family Centres

Halt the planned cuts to West Sussex Children and Family Centres

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Carl Walker started this petition to West Sussex County Council

We call on West Sussex County Council to halt the planned cuts to its Early Help service and reverse the proposed closures of the Children’s and Family Centres and Find it Out advice centres across the county.

The Conservative leadership at West Sussex County Council are proposing the closure of 32 of the 43 children and family centres in the county. If agreed, the changes would also see all 12 of the Find It Out youth advice centres close as well.

We believe that these closures are not in the best interests of children and families across West Sussex.  They are driven by senseless financial cuts as councils around the country continue to deal with the loss of 60p in every £1 of funding since 2010, inflicted on them by the national Conservative Government. Areas that will entirely lose all their centres include Lancing and Sompting,  Midhurst, Petworth, Storrington, Billingshurst, East Grinstead and Burgess Hill.

The core purpose of Children's Centres is to improve outcomes for young children and their families and reduce inequalities between families in greatest need and their peers in:

- child development and school readiness
- parenting aspirations and parenting skills
- child and family health and life chances

Research shows that these centres are essential to the wellbeing of many parents and their children. Specifically

· Children and family centres significantly impact the physical health of many families and have positive social impacts on communities, especially those living in disadvantage.

· They have positive outcomes for many families identified as experiencing more
complex problems.

· They predict better social and behavioural outcomes for children, including better pro-social behaviour

· They also predict improved mental health outcomes for children and parents using the centres

· Centres show positive effects on family functioning

· Families using services early or longer term show greater gains in family functioning

Importantly, mothers whose families were registered at centres showed improved mental health compared to mothers at centres that had experienced budget cuts and were reducing services.

These centres are an essential part of many communities across the county and need to be protected from unnecessary cuts. This is especially the case when Covid poses so many physical, mental health and social isolation issues for so many vulnerable families.

This is clearly a cost cutting measure by a council strapped for cash and whose understanding of what children and families need is so poor that Ofsted rated their other children and family services as inadequate.

These short-sighted cuts will create more social problems in our communities and will inevitably end up costing the council more money in the long run, putting them right.  The severe reduction in the service will also leave many towns and villages across West Sussex without physical provision, as well as risking the end of universal provision of vital support to families that would benefit from it. 

Please sign this petition to retain all 43 West Sussex Children and Family Centres.

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