A new era for caring work of family centres
CHILDREN'S Centres have been popular institutions since they were set up 15 years ago.
Parents could get advice about breast-feeding, while others may have attended classes about nutrition, or how to wean their children onto solid foods.
Now services are set to improve, it is claimed, at the 58 SureStart children's centres run by the county council.
The county council has awarded a single operating contract for the running of its centres, designed to offer same sessions for families and the same levels of service.
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The "Wobbly Ones for Competent Walkers" session, which involves toddlers walking along a wobbly raised platform to gain balance confidence, is just one example of the courses now available.
And parents seem to approve of the services on offer.
Lucy Renshaw, 34, of Calverton, has taken both her children – three-year-old Joshua and 14-month-old Jake – to the children's centre at Calverton since they were toddlers.
She said: "I think the centre is brilliant. We've done great stuff like baby-massage sessions and healthy-eating classes. It is also a really sociable thing too, because you meet other mums.
"I think the children centres will only get better now that all the services are coordinated.
"It is good to know that if you move house somewhere in the county, you would get the same care and guidance at the local centre."
The county council has set up the Notts Children's and Families' Partnership to run the centres, made up of experts at North Notts College, the Notts Healthcare Trust (NHS) and an organisation called Family Action, which provides family support.
Before the single contract, all three of these organisations were involved in the children's centres, but in different parts of the county.
The county council insists it is not saving money though the move, its children's centres will still cost around £14 million a year to run.
Derek Higton, service director for youth, families and cultural services at Notts County Council said: "This decision secures the long term future of our children's centres across the county.
"None of our centres are closing and this is a decision based on enhancing services for families and not on cost."