Urgent action must be taken to protect vital early years services, after research reveals funding in some areas has been cut by almost 50 per cent since 2010, says Barnardo’s.
Department for Education figures reveal children’s centres have had funding cut from £1.2bn to an estimated £0.6bn over the last six years.
Barnardo’s is calling on the Government to help financially stricken local authorities find new ways of providing a range of essential early intervention and family support services across England.
Each local authority should look at whether standalone children’s centres are still right for them, or work with health and social care providers and other partners to decide on alternative ways for these crucial services to be delivered to a broader age range.
An example of a more innovative approach is in Essex, where the county council and the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group have brought together existing services under the umbrella of the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “We appreciate local authorities are having to cut budgets but it’s vital funding is found to provide essential early support services for families.
“If families are helped to tackle issues early on, this reduces the likelihood of problems increasing and leading to more deep seated difficulties in later life.
“Investing in early intervention and family support services simply makes sense – not only are we investing in our children, we are investing in our future.
“The Government must prioritise these services and help local authorities ensure they are available to all families.”
Barnardo’s manages early intervention and family support services across England and sees the additional support they provide for parents of young children as essential – especially in areas of high need.