Birmingham launches consultation on early years services

Birmingham City Council has launched a consultation on a new and fairer system for providing early years services for children and families in the city.

Commissioned by the city council, but to be delivered by Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the new system will create local ‘early years hubs’ and a network of community-based services by joining the current health visiting service and children’s early years’ service.

It is hoped that the system, whereby families can access the help they need from pregnancy until their child starts school, will be fairer and easier to access than the current patchwork of services that can be difficult for many families to access.

The new proposed model would mean more flexible opening hours, citywide 52-week coverage, access at all levels for children with disabilities and more outlets across the city.

Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children and families, said: “We need to target services towards those children and families that need them the most, and where they need them most. So rather than focussing on bricks and mortar we need to make services available at places children and families use the most – for example, having access points in GP surgeries.

“The new system will provide a far more integrated service, so instead of having 76 different contracts, creating a widely differing service depending on where you live, there will be one contract with Birmingham Community Healthcare. Although we are doing this with less money than would be ideal, we would be creating this integrated service anyway as it provides a much better and fairer service than we currently have. And if we keep the system we presently have, it would inevitably lead to the closure of all our children’s centres, which surely nobody wants.”

In May, Government Business analysed the current state of children’s services in the UK, producing the top 10 performing local authorities for their child care offering -