Thirteen children’s centres in Rotherham - six in our area - have moved a step closer to closure after Rotherham Council outlined its proposals to save £2.2 million.
The authority today revealed which centres were earmarked to shut, and which it hoped to keep open.
In our area, Aughton Early Years Centre and Maltby Stepping Stones, look set to be saved.
But Dinnington Children’s Centre, Ryton Brook Children’s Centre at Anston, Sue Walker Children’s Centre at Kiveton and Thurcroft Children’s Centre all face the chop.
Wales Parish Councillor Paul Martin said the announcement had dealt a blow to staff at the Kiveton centre.
“Staff have been very professional after hearing the news, but you can hear it in their voices how distraught they are,” said Coun Martin.
“They are not just people who work there, they put their hearts and souls into the job and it’s their vocation to work with children and families.”
“My children are older now but we used the service extensively when they were younger.”
“It’s tragic that younger families are not going to have the serviced we had, which were fantastic.”
Coun Martin said the parish council would fight to keep the children’s centres open.
“This is going to have a terrible impact on the community,” he said.
“Not just here in Kiveton but right across Rotherham.”
Rotherham Council is now asking for public feedback on its proposals.
A spokesman said: “We are seeking to gather opinions and views from parents, carers, centre users and staff and partner organisations.”
“We are also interested in seeking options and ideas from schools, community organisations, private, voluntary and independent childcare providers, and the public as to the future use of children centre buildings and services that may, or could be delivered if buildings are faced with closure.”
The move, if implemented, would 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.
Children’s centres 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.
Several public consultation events have been organised:
• Thursday 3rd April at Wales High School (for Aughton, Kiveton, Anston and Thurcroft centres)
• Wednesday 9th April at Maltby Crags Community School (for Maltby and Dinnington centres)
Find out more about the proposals and leave your feedback for the council at http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/consultations/Childrens_Centre_consultation/index.php