ISSUE: Chiswick Child and Family Centre
Meeting on 7th November to Decide Centre's Fate
This article is by Michèle Rooney - a parent of a child who has benefited from the facility.
proposal to close the centre is back on the agenda for
the November 7 Council meeting - Cllr.
Ellar told Chiswick parents a month ago that it would
be returned unchanged.
The plan for the special needs population under the age of three is to offer them Portage. This is a wonderful program; it is an educational approach to special needs, but cannot replace in any way Family Centre provision. It is a home-based program, and consists of weekly visits with a program given to work on very specific short-term goals.
There has also been mention of play groups, but what and where has been very vague. What is lost is the integrated approach to care - we're back to fragmentation, and added stress for the parents who will have to take their children out for physio, occupational and speech therapy treatment. For those who are sensory impaired, there will be additional trips out to Reflections (located at the Hounslow Urban Farm).
There will be no follow-through of therapy for those children whose parents are unable or unwilling to follow through themselves, and there will be little to no respite for those parents who are overwhelmed by the needs and care of their child (or indeed, children ).
As to consultation - it has been minimal. There have been at least two meetings with parents - one at the Chiswick Centre, and one at Nantley House in Hounslow. There was the presentation at the Chiswick Voice meeting, and a meeting with the Child Development Team. The purpose of these meetings seemed to be to explain why the changes were being made, rather than to have meaningful dialogue with anyone.
The Health team expressed many concerns over the proposal - in fact, the therapists were quite articulate about how therapy provision was being adversely impacted by the changes at the other centres. Anne Domeney was very sympathetic, but made it quite clear that the priority of the centres' staff has to shift to the at risk and child protection population. In other words, resources (both fiscal and human) are being shifted away from one (the special needs) population to meet the requirements of assessment and intervention of the other.
There is one bright spot in all of this. We have managed to find a charity which is interested in a partnership arrangement with the Borough - we met with the regional director of KIDS, who was very interested in doing something at the Chiswick site, and we have facilitated a meeting between her and Anne Domeney. This meeting should hopefully take place tomorrow. This was the result of work done by one of the mothers whose child left the Chiswick Centre over a year ago, and who no longer lives in the borough - that's how great an impact that place made on her family!
Imagine what we might have been able to accomplish by now if we had become involved at the beginning of the process in March... We hope once again to present our views at the meeting next Tuesday, and will try to enlist the support of the Council for our efforts. But we would also like to encourage them to facilitate joint planning and funding for services by Social Services, Education and Health.
Wish us luck.
OFSTED Reports on the two centres Note - the Brentford Centre was reinspected in July of this year and the tone of that report is apparently much more favourable than the report on OFSTED's web site.
What You Can Do:
The Councillor responsible for social services in the Borough is Colin Ellar - to contact him click here
Contact your local councillor in Hounslow Borough. To find out who your councillor is click here.
Write to the local MP: Ann Keen, House of Commons, SW1A 0AA
E-mail a message of support to the campaign - click here