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The 4Children Children's Centre Census 2013 is the only national annual survey of Children’s Centre activities and comes at a time of widespread concern over the impact of acute financial pressures on their accessibility in parts of the country.
The new Census reveals that for the first time over a million families are benefitting from Children’s Centre services and that Centres are supporting two-thirds of all disadvantaged families with children under the age of five. However, 4Children is warning that the valuable progress being made will be put at risk if local authority predictions of cuts to Children’s Centres are realised.
New figures from the 4Children Children’s Centre Census 2013 indicate that:
4Children has also set out a series of recommendations designed to enable Children’s Centres to go further in preventing family crisis and its associated social and economic costs. The charity is calling on central and local government to take imminent action to:
Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children says:
“The past twelve months have seen existing pressures on families mounting, with increasing strain on job security, household finances, relationships and widespread anxiety over the potential impact of further austerity cuts to local support services. Our Census shows that more and more families, particularly those in the greatest need, are turning to Children’s Centres to help pull them through these tough times.
“Local authorities are under extreme financial pressure to make tough decisions, but the long term social and financial rewards will come with filling up, not closing down these crucial Centres, which have already provided a cost-effective lifeline for hundreds of thousands of families.
“Rather than contemplating reductions and closures, we should instead seize the opportunity to make the most of Centres’ growing potential to help avert family crises. This means improving the way in which they pool resources and budgets with local partners; making additional investment; and committing wholeheartedly to keeping their doors open to families of all backgrounds.”