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New provider to manage centres
A NEW provider will run children’s centres in Basingstoke and Deane.
Action for Children has been awarded the tenders to manage the local Sure Start centres, including all eight in the borough, one in Odiham and one in Hartley Wintney.
The children’s charity already works with more than 50,000 children and runs 480 projects in the UK, as well as campaigning for children, young people and families.
Hampshire County Council said the new contract holder will take the centres into “a future where funding is concentrated more on service provision than bureaucracy and management.”
The new contracts take effect from April 23, when existing staff will transfer to the new provider, to ensure families maintain relationships with staff.
Emma Horne, operational director of children’s services for Action for Children, said: “We are delighted to have won the contract, which represents a wonderful opportunity to replicate and build on the support we currently provide through 11 children’s centres in the county.
“Whilst we look forward to putting this knowledge and expertise into helping more families in Hampshire to give their children the best start in life, our immediate priority is a smooth transition to Action for Children from the current providers, ensuring families can continue to benefit from the support they need.”
A campaign group to protect the future of children’s centres in Hamp-shire has said it is concerned about the new contracts.
Catherine Ovenden, from Save Our Children’s Centres Hampshire (SOCC), said: “These services were delivered so well by Hampshire County Council, and we worry that they will suffer terribly for ‘saving’ what is really a tiny amount of money.
“We wonder if the future of the service will match what has previously been delivered.”