On 4 December, Sheffield City Council announced a “redesign” to Sheffield’s Early Years services (including both public and voluntary sector nurseries and children’s centres).
This will mean cuts in front line provision serving 9000 people in Sheffield, reducing the 36 sites to 17 "areas", the removal of statutory funding to 16 voluntary sector services, the effective removal of funding for one and two year olds across Sheffield, and at least 150 redundancies.
These changes are based on a review of Early Years in Sheffield published around nine months ago, which has had no subsequent consultation with staff, parents or trade unions. It will be a £3.578 million cut to frontline services.
These funded services not only provide childcare for working and unemployed parents, but also a range of intervention and prevention services to working class families, including health visitors, inclusion work, and in-home support.
The council has told the local press that there will be "no impact" on children or intervention work. But intervention money is being redirected to the city’s Multi Agency team, which currently works with the most at-risk families. The services under threat deliver a distinctly different service which can prevent the need for "responsive" work.
Staff families and supporters are demonstrating at a public meeting with councillors on Wednesday 12 December. The campaign has also produced a briefing paper, and there is a petition at tinyurl.com/ d7ctmwa.
If the petition reaches 5000 signatures, Sheffield City Council will be forced to hold a full meeting discuss these issues.