Consultation is set to start on a fresh new integrated early years service for children in Birmingham.
In October 2015 public health services for 0-5 year olds become the responsibility of councils, Birmingham City Council is set to transform its provision by integrating it with children’s centres and early years provision.
Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This is an exciting new opportunity for young people and their parents. We currently have a patchwork of early years services across the city, and it’s time to update these to meet the modern needs of families. Due to government decisions, we also have to make significant cuts – £16m over three years – so doing nothing to this service is simply not an option. We also have too many children missing out on their early education entitlement.
“This needs to change, and with health visiting transferring to local authorities this is an ideal time to create an integrated service with family support and early education. The proposal we are consulting on will see those most in need getting help earlier, with parents offered support from before birth up to the start of primary school. This joined-up service will mean parents won’t have to worry about which agency to call, agencies will work much more closely together and this will deliver better outcomes for children and families.
“As for the detail as to how this will work, this is what the consultation is for. It is vital parents, carers and sector workers get involved in the consultation to help us shape the best possible service going forward.”
The proposed changes will mean the children’s centre and health visiting budgets will be pooled, along with some public health funding; this funding will then be weighted according to need in each district.
Delivery would be through children’s centres but become a service-based rather than centre-based approach. Instead of individual centres providing widely varying services, there would be ‘clusters’ that will be co-terminus with the 10 council districts. Following feedback from the consultation, a more detailed proposal will be formulated.
The report will go to cabinet on 29 June.