Release date: 30 December 2020
West Sussex County Council's Children and Young People's Services Scrutiny Committee will meet on 7 January 2021 to discuss a report which sets out proposals for redesigning the Council's Early Help service in order to better target children and families.
The proposal involves plans to enhance the services provided to the most vulnerable children and families, closer working between the Early Help service and Children’s Social care and strengthening work with schools. The proposed changes will significantly reduce the number of buildings services are delivered from, many of which have limited opening hours and are not used by those children and families in the greatest need.
Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “The priority of our Early Help service is to work with the most vulnerable children and families. We have made significant investment in our Children’s Services and are starting to show real improvements which has been recognised by the Department for Education (DfE). As part of our improvement plan we need to be more targeted in reaching the families we know need the most help and support. These plans would help us to do that. Rather than expecting vulnerable children and families to come to us, our plan is for our staff to go to them. These proposals are about doing the best we can for vulnerable children and families. Any changes made will be subject to full and through consultation where I would encourage people to come and have their say.”
A summary of the proposed changes is:
- Increase the support and targeted response to vulnerable children.
- The reduction of children and family centres, from 43 to 11 and ceasing delivery from Youth and Find it Out centres.
- Strengthen support to school.
- Closer working between Early Help and Children’s Social Care so that all children and families are accessing the right help and protection from the most appropriate part of the service.
- Cease delivering group work.
- Reduction in staff related to the reduction of children and family centres and group work.
- The proposed changes will deliver £1.95m savings already identified in the council’s financial plan.
Recommendations from the scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday, 7 January 2021 will inform any decision on next steps and will be taken at the February cabinet meeting. If the proposals are agreed as a way forward, a consultation into the detail of the proposals will be launched.
The full proposals can be viewed on our website as part of the agenda papers for the Children & Young People's Services Scrutiny Committee Meeting. People can watch the meeting live online from 10.30am on 7 January on our website using the same link.