East Lancashire children's services are being ‘stretched to the limit'

First published in East Lancashire Chorley Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

LACK of funding for vital children’s services is creating ‘a ticking time bomb’ for vulnerable children in East Lancashire, according to a children’s charity.

Action for Children said that services such as family support, counselling and childcare were being stretched to capacity because of the recession.

According to a report by the charity called ‘The Red Book 2012’, published this week, there has been a huge increase in demand for services.

At the same time they say that partner organisations specialising in services such as alcohol and substance misuse are reducing, leading to increasing worries about child protection. The report states that 19,385 children in the North West lived in families with multiple problems in 2010 and estimated this figure to have risen to 62,439 by 2015.

Terri Hacking, who manages four Action for Children services in Lancashire, said: “At many of our services, including Ribble Valley Prevention and Early Intervention and Burnley Wood Children's Centre, we are seeing a massive increase in demand, with some families having to wait for one-to-one family support; sessional childcare; counselling and training in literacy, numeracy and IT skills. In order to offer Lancashire families a full complement of support, we often work with partner organisations specialising in services such as employability, alcohol and substance misuse, and domestic abuse.

“We have noticed that many of these organisations have had to make changes to the way they operate – reducing staffing, centralising services and, in some cases, closing completely.

“There is less support available for parents in Lancashire, making it very difficult to effectively address child protection issues.”

Carol Iddon, strategic director of children’s services at Action for Children, said: “The Red Book 2012 highlights problems have persisted for decades. We are sitting on a ticking time bomb that has the potential for both human and financial repercussions.”

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