South Tyneside Labour Council is committed to giving every child the best start in life writes Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council
At the heart of that strategy is our commitment to protect and invest in our Children’s Centres across South Shields and Jarrow. Whilst Children Centre’s across the country have closed since 2010, we have proudly maintained all 12 of our Centres, despite being the third hardest hit local authority in terms of central government funding reductions.
Our Children Centre’s offer access to outreach support, courses for parenting, groups and activities to support child development, as well as a range of services including Health, Housing, Family Learning and access to DWP provision.
Children’s Centres are vital to engage our hard-to-reach residents, providing a friendly, low-pressure environment where parents can ask questions and find help with everything from stopping smoking to gaining employment skills. Additional support is offered to those families who need some extra help using a multi-agency approach around the family, supporting parents and carers at the earliest point.
Our willingness to invest in early years provision is paying dividends: compared to the regional and national averages, higher numbers of children in South Tyneside score well in key development assessments of communication, problem solving and motor skills. Whilst evidence shows that children living in more deprived areas have a lower chance of achieving higher scores in these indicators, South Tyneside is bucking the trend, supporting all children to achieve their potential.
Labour Councillors, working with the South Tyneside Socialist Education Association, has committed to further enhance its Children Centre offer to local families by increasing the reach to include all children and young people. The creation of our new Best Start Locality Partnerships, building on the work of our Children’s Centres, will provide families with a single point of contact for connecting with a range of services including; health visitors, early help workers, community midwives and mental health. This approach will provide the right services at the right time for the families who need them.
We know that families flourish when they can easily access support in their local area, utilising local assets and playing an active role within their community. As we build on the existing offer, and further develop our local Children’s Centres into Best Start Locality Partnerships we can ensure that more families in South Tyneside achieve their full potential and give every child the best start.