The council announced the plans at the Children’s and Adults’ Care and Education Committee meeting on 21 March. Providing there is no call in on the decision, from June 2019, the services at Norbiton and Surbiton children’s centres will be delivered at local outreach sites with a focus on targeting those areas and communities in greatest need.
Chessington, Kingston Town, Old Malden and Tolworth children’s centres will continue to provide the same services. New Malden and North Kingston children’s centres will be remodelled from April 2020 with a phased reduction in services to target those most in need of support. The council will work with local communities in each of these areas to develop an outreach offer of services and activities.
The seven-week consultation around the new plans ran from 13 December 2018 - 1 February 2019. Residents were asked which services they valued the most and which other centres they would be willing to access services from, how they travelled to the centres and which sessions were most popular and important.
The survey was completed by 744 people and a number of focus groups were also held at different centres to gather views. 1.7% of those surveyed said they used the Norbiton centre the most, with New Malden at 11%, Surbiton 13.5% and North Kingston 18.8%. Those who commented on the survey were positive about the activities offered and the support they received from staff working at the children’s centres. They were also supportive of rebranding the children centres into 'family centres' and increasing the age range of children who could access activities during the school holidays, which the council will be piloting this summer.
Councillor Diane White, portfolio holder for Children’s Services including Education, said:
“Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the consultation. We have listened to what our residents value most and have remodelled the service to meet these needs, whilst reaching out by a strengthened outreach approach to our most vulnerable families.”
For more information about children’s centres in Kingston visit www.afcinfo.org.uk