A consultation on how children’s centres across the county could soon be run is to start on Monday.
People living in Herts are being asked to share their views on county council proposals to improve the delivery of children’s centre services when contracts come up for renewal next April.
The plans would see all of Herts’ 82 current children’s centres remaining open, but saving money by reducing management and overhead costs.
The county’s Liberal Democrat group has identified that the proposals would save up to 13 per cent of the running costs – equating to around £1.9million per year – but expressed concerns that many long-serving managers of the centres could lose their jobs.
Mark Watkin, the Lib Dems’ local spokesman for children’s services, said: “A lot of good thinking that has gone into this reorganisation, but I am seriously worried for the future for the managers who in the past six years have done a magnificent job supporting families in their community.
“If there are to be redundancies, I want the county council to do all it can to relocate as many managers as possible, and support the remainder in their search for new employment.”
According to Herts County Council, the area’s children’s centres – including the WorldSavers Children’s Centre in Hemel Hempstead’s Datchet Close – are currently run by a mix of providers and the quality and range of provision, while generally good, varies between providers.
It is hoped keeping all of the centres open, but grouping them by area, will improve the way they deliver a variety of services including health information, antenatal advice and child education programmes.
Herts County Council cabinet member for children’s services Richard Roberts said: “In light of the need for public sector efficiencies, it is necessary to make savings in the funding for the children’s centre programme. Despite this, grouping centres together will prevent closures and allow them to deliver their services focused more on local need.
“It is a positive way forward for us to continue delivering its services as efficiently and effectively as possible.
“Tis will give us the opportunity to strengthen our partnership working between children’s centres, health services, early years’ providers and schools, training and employment services and the voluntary and community sector.”