Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


  In July 2000 (because of Devon's Social Service's review of contracts to address priorities) Mansion Family Centre in Totnes lost two members of staff; leaving only one person at the family centre funded by Devon's Education department. The Nursery staff and two outreach workers remained. While this continuing crisis is of very real concern to all the families there have been some very positive outcomes which need to be noted:

    —  as an emergency measure, a core of volunteer parents and former staff are keeping the family centre open and are providing drop-in, advice and family workshops;

    —  a management committee of families and community members has taken over the management of the centre with the support of an inter-agency team of specialist advisers: this committee will be responsible for fund raising and administration;

    —  approaches have been made by a national charity to work in partnership with the committee to fund additional staff responsible for parenting (training) courses;

    —  Devon County Council has appointed a Senior Education Officer with responsibility for strategy, policy development and operational management in services to children and familes;

    —  the former co-ordinator of Mansion Open House is now working within Devon's outreach team. In that way, her County role will allow her professional experience to be disseminated across Devon to support families in a more strategic way.

  It is anticipated that within Devon's diverse and isolated rural areas there will be many differing family and community needs for support, this calls for a greater flexibility in determining where "Sure Start" might be initiated and whether the present funding criteria are relevant to rural areas.

Dr Jacqui Cousins

January 2000

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