Fears over changes to Rushden area children’s services

More than 250 people have signed a petition against proposed changes to children's services run by Spurgeons

More than 250 people have signed a petition against proposed changes to children's services run by Spurgeons

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More than 250 people have signed a petition against proposed changes to children’s services.

A group of mums from the Rushden area are calling on Northamptonshire County Council and Rushden-based charity Spurgeons to reconsider proposed changes for children’s services.

Both organisations say the changes are necessary to improve the care they provide for families, but parents say it will only be focusing on targeted groups while reducing support offered universally to everyone.

They fear fewer services provided by children’s centres and more by library staff will leave more families at risk of needing specific help.

Issy Burge of Rushden, who helped launched the petition, said: “The universal services are being cut dramatically. The main function of the children’s service is to ensure that children are looked after, so it’s very worrying that a big group of children aren’t potentially going to be looked after. It’s also the support for the mums. We want them to listen to us and talk to us.”

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council, which has contracted out some work to Spurgeons, said: “We’ve changed the way children centre services are delivered as part of our response to Ofsted’s inadequate ratings of our children’s services. We haven’t been good enough at helping families in need of support with the result that many of those families’ situations have deteriorated to crisis point, requiring social worker involvement.

“To provide the right help to families at the right time, we’re now delivering some non-specialist elements of our services from our libraries. We’d encourage anyone who feels there’s a local need for a specific group or activity to speak to their local library staff and we’ll do our best to accommodate them.”

You can sign the petition here.

You can also take part in the county council’s consultation here.

The charity’s view

A Spurgeons spokesman said: “The general services and groups delivered through the library service would include sessions such as Rhyme Time and Story Sacks.

“As well as the universal services delivered by the service, Spurgeons will continue to deliver some more general sessions, but 80 per cent of the services delivered by Spurgeons will be early help targeted support for families.”

The spokesman said the new model requires a new staffing structure to be in place from December 1, and added: “We are currently consulting children’s centre staff on the new staffing structure.”