April 30th, 2021

The Wave Closure: Children and Family Centres: Why they are so important.

In recent years Children and Family Centres have become a truly important resource in our communities. They are one of the few places that parents can go to be with others and reach out for support. They are in the heart of our communities, bringing services together and reducing social isolation. Support is available in many forms and that is what makes them so essential. People employed in them can identify many issues and how these can be addressed early before they become more serious. It has thus come as a shock to many that West Sussex County Council are proposing to withdraw services from 32 of the 43 Children and Family Centres in the County.

Research published in 2015 indicates that these centres are essential to well being because they improve the physical health of many families and individuals (especially those living with disadvantage) and have a positive social impact on communities. They bring people together, enable people to build networks of support, and combat social isolation.

A whole range of community services are available. ‘The Wave’ in Broadwater has areas for staff to meet, provides NHS services for mothers and babies including baby weighing and breast-feeding support, monitors child development, offers a meet up point for those suffering domestic abuse (Safe in Sussex), has Childminder support meetings, Moo Music for infants, a counselling service for children and families, wellbeing and weight loss classes, and an internet café. This is complemented by the café, which offers a place for elderly and otherwise isolated members of the community to meet for lunch. In addition to these it offers a centre for Foodbank collection and period poverty. If services are withdrawn, it is not known if the café will survive.

The logic behind this Early Help Redesign, which will see the closure of so many centres, is that they can better target services to the smaller number of people most in need of support. Indeed, throughout this debate there has been an either/or discussion about whether we should have children and family centres or more mobile, targeted support for those most in need. However, it is clear to anyone who works in this field that we desperately need both approaches in order to meet the range of needs in our communities across the county.

Our communities desperately need and want these centres in addition to ‘targeted services’. Our petition yielded nearly 4,000 signatures. 


The WSCC consultation is open. https://yourvoice.westsussex.gov.uk/early-help-redesign  Be prepared to write a sentence or two describing your feelings about closures as the format only allows you to consider an option which includes limited services. Or write to your local councillor or MP: www.writetothem.com We need investment in our communities. We are worth it!



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