UNISON West Sussex surveyed its members in CYPL about the Early Help proposals to close children and family centres and reconfigure the service in key respects. Thanks go to all those who took part. You can read the full response and UNISON report below.
The results were submitted to the public consultation and a presentation was given to Lucy Butler, the Executive Director of CYPL. Many of the comments in the UNISON response raised similar points to those made elsewhere in the public consultation. Thanks also go to members who completed the public consultation survey.
- From the UNISON survey there was no confidence in the council’s preferred proposal in Option 1 with only 20% supporting this. 3% supported Option 2 and 42% Option 3. There was a request that a fourth option should have been provided, which built on the existing strengths and achievements of the current model and while there was recognition that the number of centres could be reduced at the margins, there was strong disagreement with the extent being proposed. Areas of concern were highlighted by members, where there was greatest worry of the impact of closing centres.
- The withdrawal of group work by Early Help was opposed by 82% of respondents. Many members commented that there is a greater need to provide universal services due to the impact of the pandemic and to engage with those with the greatest need at an early stage, which will then reduce the demand on targeted services.
- More work is needed to improve partnerships with communities, schools, and health services to develop universal and targeted support.
- There was significant feedback that the needs of young people have not been adequately addressed and the proposal could result in young people reaching crisis point before seeking support.
- Staff health and well-being needs and opportunities to learn and develop and work effectively must be fully considered, members told us.
Whilst the amended proposals fall far short of what UNISON members want and tell us that children and families need, we note the following:
- In the new proposal, Early Help will continue to offer some specific group work when there is an identified need;
- An additional Children & Family Centre will be retained in Lancing;
- There is an increased ‘Find it out’ offer.
UNISON welcome that there have been some amendments to the original proposals and believes that there are likely to be fewer redundancies as a result.