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Have your say on the future of Ealing children’s centres 2019-22

This consultation will be open until 17 May 2019. You can take part by either attending a meeting at your local children’s centre, or by completing either an online survey, or a printed survey and hand it in to a member of staff at any children's centre.

Ealing Council, along with most local authorities, is facing the toughest financial challenges in recent times. Our government grant has been reduced by £143.7m, equivalent to a reduction of 64% over the past 10 years.

At the same time, departments across the Council, particularly in social services and housing, are experiencing ever-increasing demand; whilst residents’ requirements and expectations of the services we offer are also changing.

To ensure the best outcome for residents, which is a priority to us (in keeping with our Future Ealing programme), we have to review how we provide services in future. We must find the most effective way to meet residents’ needs and maintain our commitment to deliver the services required in different regions of the borough and for those residents in most need - using the resources we have available.

Since 2010 around 1000 children’s centres across the country have had to close. Fortunately, here in Ealing, we’ve managed to maintain and develop all our 27 children’s centres – one of the highest numbers amongst London boroughs.

We are very proud of our children’s centres, the number of families they serve, the range of services they deliver and the very real and positive impact they’re having on young children.

About our children's centres

Since 2010 around 1000 children’s centres across the country have had to close. Fortunately, here in Ealing, we’ve managed to maintain and develop our 27 children’s centres – one of the highest numbers amongst London boroughs.

We are very proud of our children’s centres, the number of families they serve, the range of services they deliver and the very real and positive impact they’re having on young children.

In the last year Ealing’s 27 children’s centres have provided services and support for 39,814 children, parents and carers, including 1063 vulnerable children i.e. those with Special Educational Needs and / or a disability, and children who are looked after or require additional support.

Services include early education / childcare (including the free childcare scheme for two-year-olds), midwives for antenatal checks, health visitors and baby clinics, parenting support, stay and play sessions and other group activities, adult classes, access to speech and language therapists, support for children with communication needs and more.

All our children’s centres are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. We know that the services they offer, make a big difference to the children and families who use them; and contribute to the development of the communities they serve.

Why we're consulting

As part of council savings, it’s proposed that that over the next couple of years, £808,000 of savings could be made through Ealing’s children’s centre budget.

We’d like your views on the proposals we’ve made about how children’s centre services may change across the borough; as we need to make savings, whilst continuing to deliver quality services.

We’ve published a draft Strategy for Ealing Children’s Centres (2019-22) which sets out how we propose to re-organise the children’s centre network, working with the council’s neighbourhood services to make better use of its assets, i.e. the buildings the council owns or leases, the staff it employs etc. The aim is to re-shape the services we deliver and where and how we deliver them in response to the financial pressures put upon us.

Our strategy for change

Although government cuts force us to consider changes to our children’s centres – we are determined to minimise the disruption of services and access to the children’s centres. Therefore, within our draft Ealing children's centre strategy (2019-22), we will look at:

  • Keeping open and accessible, the centres which serve the greatest number of children and families; particularly those supporting families on very low incomes; living in identified areas of disadvantage.
  • Maintaining early childhood health services through centres, such as midwifery and Early Start Ealing - our integrated health visiting service.
  • Continuing to ensure that vulnerable children and those who have the greatest needs are well supported.
  • Increasing the childcare available in centres that are being re-organised; where other services are being reduced or stopped.
  • Making services run more efficiently now and in the future.
  • Ensuring effective, preventative support and early intervention through close-working with professionals from different services and agencies.

What changes we're proposing

Under the current proposals Ealing will continue to have 7 main children’s centres and 9 linked centres. (Linked centres are those connected to a main centre offering a range of services).

The service offer in the remaining 11 linked children’s centres may need to be significantly re-organised to meet the current budget constraints; and this means that some centres may have to close.

We’re working towards providing additional childcare places; especially free places for eligible two-year-olds; across all centres; and especially at centres with reduced services.

For the 11 centres that need to be re-organised; we propose to keep and improve childcare provision and potentially outsource additional services and activities to nearby providers not funded by the council.

How to take part in this consultation

The consultation runs for 12 weeks, from 22 February to 17 May 2019.  We would like to hear from you if you have children under the age of five in your family, or if you are expecting a baby; and if you make use of our children’s centres, regularly, or occasionally and even if you have not yet used a centre but were planning to.

We will do all we can to make it as easy as possible for everyone to have their say. You can take part in the consultation through:

  • Attending a meeting at your local children’s centre (dates and times will be advertised on your children’s centre noticeboard) or by selecting the children's centre of your choice from the search facility on this website. You can also find dates in the timetable, downloadable from this page.
  • You can complete an online survey;
  • Or fill in a printed survey which can be found at your local children's centre and is also downloadable from this page.  Once complete, please return the survey either to your local children’s centre or Ealing’s Family Information Service (FIS), based at Ealing Council, Perceval House, 14-16 Uxbridge Road, Ealing W5 2HL.

What is the Equalities Analysis Assessment?

Ealing recognises the importance of promoting equality and inclusion to improve public services for everyone. Ealing is a very diverse borough and it is vital to ensure it is an area that supports equal opportunities, where everyone has a fair chance and people from all backgrounds can take part in community life and have access to all services.

Within the children’s centre consultation, we had a look at the diversity of people in the borough and how the changes might affect certain groups. We did this to ensure that any changes made to services took into account the importance of providing equality in terms of access to services for all groups.

The Equality Analysis Assessment looks at:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Within the consultation, we are seeking your opinion on whether you feel the changes impact any group(s) of people in a negative way. This question is optional – you may leave it out if you are unable to answer it.

Follow this link to read the 'draft Equalities Analysis Assessment' as this may help you respond to the question.

What happens next?

Responses to the consultation will inform a final report to the council’s cabinet in July 2019, which also takes into account responses from other consultations being carried out as part of Ealing’s future strategy for neighbourhood services.

If the proposals contained in this consultation are accepted, based on the consultation and other relevant considerations – the plan for the changes to Ealing’s children’s centres will be implemented from autumn 2019 over a period of three years.

Frequently asked questions

Will my response contribute to decision making?
Your views are extremely important to us. All responses will be carefully considered before any decisions are made.

When will any changes take effect?
Any changes will gradually take effect from October 2019 to March 2022. Information on centres and their services will be shared with families on our website

What about my childcare?
Centres that currently provide childcare will continue to do so. We may even extend childcare services to offer more places.

How can I read this information in a different language?
This website has a language translation feature (Google translate), so you can read the information online and print it off, in the language of your choice. Just go up to the top right hand side of the page and select the 'Translate' feature, then pick the language you need. You can then view the information in another language and even print it in that language.

Will I still be able to choose which centre to attend?
Yes, there are no restrictions on which centres you can attend now or in future. 

What will this mean for families of children with SEND?
Services for children and families with SEND are being prioritised and are largely unchanged by the proposals. However, reduction of some universal / general services may affect children with SEND.

Will I have a children’s centre near me?
We are working hard to ensure a good geographic spread of centres and services across the borough to minimise disruption to journey times.

Where can I find out about my local children’s centre and the services it offers?
On this website you can enter the name of a children's centre or search for your nearest centre using your postcode. Each children's centre page has the latest activity timetable so you can find out what's on offer.

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