Threat to pre-schools service in Windsor

Threat to pre-schools service in Windsor

Reporter:

Francis Batt

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Threat to pre-schools service in Windsor

The closure of children's centres in Windsor or introduction of fees for parents could be on the cards after the end of Government funding.

Parents and carers of children under five have been well catered for recently in centres financed under the Government's Sure Start scheme. Funding has now ended leaving local authorities to pick up the bill.

The Royal Borough is asking for parents' and carers' views. But cabinet member for children Cllr Eileen Quick has admitted cuts will have to be made.

Suggestions being considered include merging two or three of the borough's centres, bringing in volunteers or private companies to manage them, or even charging for some services.

Louise Foy is manager of the Poppies Children's Centre in Kenneally on the Broom Farm Estate, Windsor which provides support to 450 army families.

It was opened with much fanfare a year ago and offers everything from play equipment to baby changing and kitchen facilities. Any family with children under five can attend free with mums and dads welcome to stay.

"Parents were horrified on Tuesday when they first learned about the threat," said Louise.

"They are worried about the impact it may have on their families. They have found it so beneficial. It stops mums feeling isolated.

"People pop in all the time."

Louise is uncertain about her future, as she is only employed on a six month contract.

She added: "We are expecting a visit from Cllr Quick next week and I'm due to meet my line manager."

Also council managed but financed until now by Sure Start is Little Cygnets centre based at Datchet St Mary's School but which travels round the surrounding villages of Old Windsor, Eton and Wraysbury.

Centres managed by schools are based at the Lawns Nursery School in Imperial Road, at Dedworth Green First School in Smith's Lane (the Xtend service) and South Ascot Village School.

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