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Children's centre use falls by 18% in most deprived areas

By Rachel Lawler
 
baby children's centres
The number of families using children's centres fell by 18% between 2014/15 and 2017/18, according to a new report from Action for Children.
 
In the most deprived areas, the decrease was more pronounced with 22% fewer children accessing the centres in these areas, compared to a 12% decrease in the least deprived areas between 2014/15 and 2017/18.
 
The average spend per child at children’s centres also dropped from £532 to £412 in the same period.
 
Closing the gap   
Despite these challenges, Action for Children says that children’s centres reach as many young children as the government’s funded childcare schemes.
 
The charity also says that the average developmental gap has decreased in areas where children’s centre use has increased.
                                                                                                         
In the last four years, the gap between low income children an their peers has closed by an average of 0.5pp in areas where the number of children using children’s centres has increase. Those that have seen a reduction in their use saw the gap increase by an average of 0.3pp. The charity has called for further research into this, due to limitations with its research here.
 
Action for Children has called on the government to use the upcoming Spending Review to allocate additional funding to local authorities to help support children’s centres.
 
Spending Review
Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, commented: “The government must use the forthcoming Spending Review to allocate additional funding to local councils and ease the squeeze on children’s centre budgets.
 
“Giving children the best start in life is not only the right thing to do but it helps to reduce the need for costly children protection services when things go wrong.”
 
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