Children’s Centres in Bexley have changed the way they operate.

Five Children’s Centre sites will now provide a range of services with additional support for parents and carers for the first 1001 days of their child’s life from antenatal to the third birthday.

The new structure aims to "provide lots of opportunities particularly for parents and carers of children in this young age group to meet up and engage with professionals", according to Bexley Council.

They are hoped to be able to provide support during those very early years and the different developmental stages.

Records in Bexley show that the majority of children aged three and four currently take up their free early education entitlement.

The centres will continue to deliver services for the children aged three to five years old who are not taking up their free places to ensure they have good early learning opportunities and will be ready for school.

The centres aim to also provide general help and support to families on parenting, health and well-being, and employability.

The five centres will offer - 

- Access to health services, including health visiting and midwifery care

- Adult learning opportunities to help parents/carers progress into training or employment

- Access to play opportunities that are available to everyone, such as Stay and Play 

- Pre-school education and access to early education and childcare (on some sites)

 - Access to services delivered by private providers that are available to everyone with small fees attached.

During the consultation, most respondents stated that they would like services nearer to where they live.

The new model will see some Children’s Centre services available from libraries, leisure centres and community buildings, making them easier for families across the borough to access.

The five children’s centres are:

- West Street Children’s Centre – where the new dedicated Children’s Centre Team will be based

- Northumberland Heath Children’s Centre

- Danson Children’s Centre

- North Cray Children’s Centre

- Normandy Children’s Centre and SEND Hub

During November and December, the new Children’s Centres Team will be running free coffee and play mornings and afternoons.

Parents and carers will be able to bring their children along to play and learning activities and complete a Children’s Centre membership form.

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Philip Read said: “It is an exciting time for our Children’s Centres.

"These changes follow detailed analysis of local needs across the borough and 18 months of public consultation.

"Our centres will now focus support on pre-birth and children up to the age of three along with the children up to five years old who do not access the free early education offer.

"Our survey found that families wanted facilities close to where they lived and we have reconfigured the service so that we’ll have more on offer right across the borough.

"We now want to hear from parents and carers what services they would like to see particularly supporting them and their children post lockdown.

"Please come along to one of the coffee mornings or afternoons and let us have your views.”

Bexley’s new dedicated Children’s Centres team can provide targeted outreach support to children and families in their home where necessary. 

The team will also signpost families to the many other private providers, charities and faith groups that are already delivering play and opportunities for everyone across the Borough.

To find out more about the changes and the coffee and play mornings and afternoons click here.

Have you got a story for us? You can contact us here.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletters to get updates sent straight to your inbox.