Thursday, 2 June 2016

Garratt Park Children's Centre

I have spoken to many concerned parents in Earlsfield about the Children's Centre and the service provided on the Henry Prince Estate.  Wandsworth Council recently finished a consultation on the way forward for these as well as Balham Nursery School.  Having contacted the Cabinet Member for Children's Services I am pleased that there is no intention to stop the stay & play at either centre, including the sessions at the Henry Prince, just some of the extra services that have occasionally used the centres.  Garratt Park has always been an outreach centre offering stay & play with occasional visits from other professionals.  These services for those families that need extra support are better offered in the main Children Centres.  This would be at Smallwood School for Earlsfield residents. 

The main change is that stay & play will now be available for a nominal charge rather than free.  I understand that those who can afford to pay a minimal fee per session are happy to do so for the provision to continue.  In addition Wandsworth Council will look into offering a free resident pass to those families who need it, including those living on the Henry Prince estate, and charging a minimal fee per session to other users. 

I understand how important the Garratt Park centre is for young families in Earlsfield as my own son went many times before starting nursery.  It is important families have access to all the services that they need as well as places to meet and engage with other new parents.  Wandsworth Council has never had any intention of closing Garratt Park or the Henry Prince provision.  However, the Council have to make savings and are looking at ways of maintaining a free service for those that need it, but charging a notional fee to those that can afford to pay and want to use the service, so that Council funds are targeted at those most in need.

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