New role could 'safeguard Croydon's children's centres'
Children's centres are set to take on around 2,000 pupils as young as two in a move the council says will help to safeguard the centres' futures.
Croydon Council is to juggle new legal obligations to disadvantaged families that require it provide early years education to the borough's poorest children with a cost-cutting drive that will see it reduce spending on children's services by £1.75m.
From September all councils must provide 15 hours of education a week to the 20 per cent most disadvantaged two-year-olds in the borough in a bid to make them better prepared for school.
The quota will increase to 40 per cent next year, meaning around 2,000 children in Croydon will be eligible.
Bosses at Croydon’s 25 children’s centres have asked to consider expanding their services to open up places to two-year-olds, which the council says could save it £700,000 a year.
Council leader Mike Fisher, speaking at a Children and Young People Scrutiny Sub-committee meeting last night, said the strategy would help protect the centres from future closure as well as preventing youngsters from falling behind at school.
Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, families and learning, said: "The provision of free early years’ education to two-year-olds is a great way of providing children with a level playing field for when they start at school.
"Our network of existing children’s centres is the most obvious way of delivering this service across the whole borough."
The council's cabinet is likely to approve a public consulation on the plans on Monday.