Future of Calderdale children’s centres still unclear

the long term future of Calderdale Children’s Centres is still up in the air.

The cabinet had been due by now to set a date to begin commissioning services in each centre, rather than directly providing them, which could save £1 million a year in staffing costs.

But the decision has been postponed pending a thorough review of the needs of disadvantaged communities, which the centres are designed to serve.

There are fears that nursery workers in some centres will be axed and as many as 63 jobs could be at risk.

Five nurseries were originally singled out but the review has now been extended to the way all 19 children’s centres operate.

Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat leader Janet Battye has insisted that there is no intention to close any children’s centre but she wants to ensure that the subsidy of between £1,449 and £4,404 per child helps the most disadvantaged families.

Children’s services spokeswoman Coun Megan Swift said: “We have to recommission the children’s centres that are presently run by voluntary sector organisations by March 2013.

“The draft information for the cabinet was not clear enough about how the process would work, and what would need to be done about the other children’s centres that are run directly by the council or by schools.”

Councillor Swift (Lab, Town) said she did no want the council to be left in a position where providers were changing because of the way the tender had been put together.

“I asked for further work to be done before it comes to cabinet for a decision, probably towards the end of June,” said Coun Swift (Lab, Town).

The council has promised to fully consult staff, trades unions and parents before making any changes to children’s centres, which are due to come into effect in April 2014.