Councillors will be asked this week (Thursday) to approve plans for a major overhaul of four children’s centres in Wandsworth.

Wandsworth council will ask councillors to approve plans for a major overhaul for the centres, however, Wandsworth Labour is campaigning for families to keep stay and play services. 
Following a public consultation with families, health visitors, childminders, nursery teachers and a wide range of community groups, the council is proposing improvements at the four centres.
Wandsworth Council have said that the changes will see more two-year-olds from disadvantaged families offered free nursery care each week. 

These crucial early-years services will be offered alongside the existing “stay and play” family provision.

Labour argues that stay and play is an opportunity for new parents/carers and children to socialise and support each through shared experiences with trained early years practitioners on hand to give parents and carers face to face advice during the formative period in their child’s early development before their second birthday.
The centres - Yvonne Carr on the Patmore estate, York Gardens in Battersea, Franciscan and Hillbrook in Tooting, will offer young families stay and play, early education, health visiting, speech and language therapy, child and adolescent mental health services for under-fives, groups for parents with low mood and post-natal depression and family support services.

Wandsworth Labour claims that parents are angry that they have not been properly consulted about the Council’s plans and are considering taking legal action to have their voices heard.

In Autumn 2018, the Council undertook a consultation on proposals to re-organise Children’s Centres across the borough and cut services for 0-3-year-olds like stay and play. 

In a large-scale survey conducted by the Council in 2015, stay and play was identified as the most popular activity at Wandsworth’s Children’s Centres. 

There has been the termination of 17 staff posts supporting children with special needs and early years provision. 

Labour Councillors are concerned about the impact that these cuts will have on the most vulnerable families across Wandsworth.

Wandsworth’s cabinet member for education and children’s services Cllr Sarah McDermott said: “We know how important early learning is for families which is why we are looking to expand and improve the services we offer at these children’s centres.
“We are committed to finding the best ways to have a really positive impact on the lives of all our younger children and their families but this is especially true of our most disadvantaged families who need the most help and support.
“Our strategy is all about having friendly, caring professionals who reach out and listen to families. We want to get help to be simple and for it to be provided in settings that can offer joined up and connected support to young children and their families. 
“Looking to the future, we want to make the support and assistance offered at our 12 children’s centres even better by continuing to offer the things that people told us were working and changing the things that people told us were not.”

Cllr Andy Gibbons said: "Wandsworth Labour believes that the Council should listen to the views of parents who are worried about cuts to stay and play provision. 

"All Children’s Centres should provide open and easy access to stay and play so that parents can be actively involved, and trained staff can identify if any children need some extra support."
The package of measures will be discussed by councillors on Thursday.