What worrying news to wake up to; ‘More than 20 children’s centres set to close in Kent County Council cost-cutting drive’ was the headline on the Kent Online website.
I felt a sudden panic…was my local children’s centre on the list? After checking, and feeling a great sense of relief that it wasn’t on the proposed closure list, I then felt guilty. I was ok, but what about all the parents across the county who have checked to find that theirs IS closing.
In the article[i], the cabinet member for specialist children’s services, Cllr Jenny Whittle, was quoted as saying that “ we want to make sure that all parents can access a children’s centre – within a 15-mile drive of their home”. I feel that this is making a major assumption that all parents have access to a car. This will also impact on traffic in areas around the centres still remaining open and parking in these areas. Not to mention the strain on resources!
When discussing the core purpose of children’s centres, the Department for Education have said that ‘evidence shows that development during the early years of a child’s life lays an essential foundation for progress throughout life’[ii] . So the more support and guidance we can give in these formative years the better chance the child has! Surely we want to have more opportunities for children’s centres to do this, rather than less?
This blog post is all about the wonderful things that the Children’s Centres I have accessed and to hopefully encourage you to take part in the 12 week consultation run by Kent County Council. I’d also love to hear about your experiences of your local children’s centre.
My local children’s centre is Little Hands Canterbury, and since my son has been born we have been attending sessions at least once a week! The first thing I went to was a breast feeding support group when he was three months old. Since then we’ve been to singing groups, messy play, craft time, Christmas parties, story time, exploring nature, food tasting, baby signing and so much more. All for free. The staff are wonderful and welcoming and work so hard to make the centre a vibrant place to visit.
We’ve also used Riverside Children’s Centre for their health visitor drop ins and Apple Tree centre for a fantastic baby massage course and a Friday morning bumps to 1s play group run by their staff.
My son has particularly loved the messy play. Although we do art and craft activities at home, he likes going to the centre and making things there! He enjoys watching the other children cover themselves in paint and create a piece of art! Here is a gallery of some of my son’s ‘masterpieces’ that Little Hands facilitated :
My Mother’s Day Hand Picture
Exploring Vegetables and Paint
Flowers in a Tree
As well as being a place for the children, it is also great for parents to get together and talk, share advice and lend a sympathetic ear.
Please join in the 12 week consultation and make sure your voice is heard: http://www.kent.gov.uk/childrenscentres
Thank you to @CanterburyMum for this blog post.
The views expressed in this blog are personal to @CanterburyMum.