Early Years Services

by Anood Al-Samerai on 4 February, 2011

Today I met with parents from the Parents and Carers Together Forum in South Bermondsey. They are really worried about the council’s proposed cuts. Like many organisations I have spoken to over recent weeks they are finding it impossible to get any solid information out of the council. The cabinet report is so vague it doesn’t help them find out what is planned for their local groups and courses. They have been in touch with the Labour Cabinet member who failed to turn up to a meeting and who has not responded to e-mails from parents. At the same time there are lots of rumours going round, apparently staff have been told they will be losing their jobs but no clear statement about the plans has been given. Everyone knows that savings will have to be made as a result of the finacial mess left by the last government, but this uncertainty is unacceptable and making matters so much worse for residents.

The children’s services which the families I┬áspoke to┬átoday completely rely on are for 0 – 5 year olds. Children are looked after in the play groups while parents learn about parenting, healthy eating, health and safety, how to read to babies and many more hugely important skills. These groups mean that children are much better at socialising and adapting when they start school. They also support new parents’ mental health and give them the chance to mix with other parents in similar positions. Cutting these services will cost the council far more in the long run.

Although we know that the council does have to make savings, they appear to be making the wrong choices. The parents I spoke to this morning were very clear that money should not be spent on Labour’s plan to provide free school meals to families which are wealthy and do not need them. They would, rightly, rather see the money invested in supporting new parents and their young children.

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