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Borough's children's services face big shake-up

One of the most radical transformations in children’s services could be on the way, with the council consulting on plans to create two central ‘hubs’ in Maidenhead and Windsor where the majority of services, from individual youth work to parenting guidance and sexual and criminal exploitation work, are based.

The council could also look to overhaul the way it delivers its services, abandoning the universal approach that is considered ‘from a different time’, and targeting those who are most in need.

These transformations are expected to save the council £450,000.

Speaking to the Advertiser, Cllr Ross McWilliams (Con, Cox Green), lead member for youth engagement, explained the changes further, saying they need to move with the times.

Cllr McWilliams said: “I haven’t gone to a youth club for a long time because there’s new technology now and people are communicating in different ways.

“Where once upon a time you’d have to go to a youth club to meet your friends, you can now talk and communicate in a way you wouldn’t have been able to do 20 years ago.

“Let’s move the model with the times and target that resource in a way that the experts have recommended.”

Under the new model, the majority of the borough’s children’s services would be run from the two central hubs.

It has not yet been stated where these hubs will be, and if new buildings will be constructed.

Lin Ferguson, deputy director of children’s services at Achieving for Children, which delivers the borough’s children’s services, was keen to stress that it is ‘not a building-centric model’, with outreach services travelling to those who need it if required.

She said: “What we’ve got to do is go to the families with the need.

“It’s about outreach, it’s about going to see families in their own community, its not focused around a building.

“We’ve got to be honest and say of course there are some savings attached to this, but it’s an opportunity for us to do what most authorities in the country have done already. We’re quite behind the times in terms of this process which is transforming how we deliver early help.

“We are targeting the most vulnerable children and families, rather than having vulnerable families wait for help because we are providing universal services.”

Cllr McWilliams added: “The targeted approach moves away from those universal systems which in some cases are just from a different time.”

If the borough’s existing services are moved as a part of these changes though, it may mean that the buildings they are in may be repurposed – something Cllr McWilliams said the council is looking into.

He said: “Some of them we rent and some are our buildings, it’s a mixture.

“We won’t know until the end of the consultation what we’re going to do with each one because no decisions have been made yet.

“There’s a proposal out there, but if people come back with their thoughts on each individual building, then we have to take account of those.”

The consultation on these proposals will continue until the end of March. Drop-in sessions have been held across the borough since January and two more are set to take place, on Wednesday, March 4 at The Manor, in Hanover Way, Windsor, from 6pm to 7.30pm, and on Wednesday, March 18 at All Souls’ Church Hall, Church Road, South Ascot, from midday to 1.30pm.

The consultation can also be viewed online at bit.ly/32qV3X1

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