County Council set to make changes to Early Help Service (29th April)

Published on: Friday, 19th April 2024
Support Erewash Sound

Following a consultation, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet are set to make changes to the early help service. Cabinet will consider a report at a meeting on 29th April.

The proposals are to refocus the service to offer a combination of response to statutory expectations combined with some practical family support and services for children from birth to five years old. 

In common with authorities across the country, the council is facing budgetary pressures far greater than experienced before, due to factors beyond its control and needs to save £3.9m from the early help and children’s centre budgets. The changes that Cabinet are being asked to approve mean that the new service will be affordable given the budget savings that need to be made. 

The proposed new service will include:

  • Parenting assessments, as needed by the courts and social care colleagues 
  • Family Time, supervised sessions with parents and their children as directed by the courts 
  • Work to track and support school leavers if they do not find a place at college, sixth form or a job with training 
  • Group work with vulnerable young people in their communities. 
  • Family Help – direct work with families, where another organisation refers a family to us.
  • Support for other organisations to deliver early help services in the county.
  • Parenting programmes.
  • Support for families who are about to have children and for children from birth to five years old.

In addition, twelve children’s centres in Derbyshire will remain open, ten children’s centres will close, these are either less well used children’s centres or those close to other larger centres.

The proposals follow a recent consultation, where more than 2,000 responses were received, with the majority of responses against the proposals. All comments received from the consultation and from the council’s partners have been taken on board, and the proposal for the new service does differ from the proposal in the consultation. More support has been added for families with children under the age of five, additional support for partner agencies and the addition of parenting programmes for families with children aged over six. 

Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Councillor Julie Patten, said: “It is with much regret that we find ourselves in the position of having to put these proposals in front of my cabinet colleagues. 

“We are facing pressures like never before, demand for social care support and spiralling costs of private placements for children in our care, that we have no control over, is costing the council dearly. 

“We need to be able to balance our books, and unfortunately we must refocus the early help service.

“We recognise that this means that many of our colleagues will lose their jobs, and we will not be able to provide the same level of service as we have done. We will do all we can to find alternative jobs for those at risk of losing their jobs. 

“But we will still be able to keep 12 children’s centres open, and carry on delivering those services which we have to legally. We have also found some extra funding so we can deliver more services to more families who need them.”

Other services operating from the same buildings as the children’s centres are not affected by these proposals.

Share this story:

Tell us YOUR news...

If there's something happening in your area that matters to you and feel that the rest of the borough needs to know about it, tell US about it.