Rotherham: Children’s centres to close to save £2.2m

Dinnington Children's Centre
Dinnington Children's Centre

Thirteen children’s centres in Rotherham - six in our area - face the axe after the council announced plans to save £2.2 million.

The move, approved by Rotherham Council on Wednesday, affects nearly 2,500 youngsters and their families.

The closures will leave nine remaining centres, seven of which would cover a larger area than before.

And a new outreach service will provide health, social care and education to families who can not easily reach a centre.

But others may be forced to fall back on the voluntary sector and independent childcare providers, the council admits.

Dinnington, Kiveton, Anston, Maltby, Thurcroft and Aughton all have dedicated Sure Start Children’s Centres.

They run services like toddler groups, parenting advice, skills courses and even free childcare.

Although children’s centres in Rotherham are open to everyone, services are mainly targeted at more than 8,500 under-fives and their families, considered most vulnerable.

These include teenage parents, single mums and dads, disabled parents, disabled children and ethnic minorities.

One parent who used to access Thurcroft Children’s Centre said parents were ‘quite upset’ about the plans.

“They don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said.

“I brought my son to the toddler group here, now he goes to the school.”

“The staff are brilliant. It will be a tragedy if it closes.”

“This is children we are talking about. It does feel a bit like the most vulnerable are being taken away from.”

The council’s current budget for the network and other services for under-fives is just over £5 million a year – but Government cuts mean this must be reduced to £2.8m by 2016.

A compulsory 45-day consultation period has now been launched to assess the impact of the changes, with closures expected to start by April.

Rotherham Council declined to comment.