The council proposes to invest more than £1 million in improving centres.
Disadvantaged children in Wandsworth could soon be better off if councillors approve proposals to invest more than £1 million in providing better nursery facilities.
The council needs to provide 1,800 free nursery places for two-year olds from lower income families by September 2014, and the money will help bring both existing centres and other council buildings earmarked as nurseries up to scratch.
This includes a £370,000 spend on a new children’s centre in King George’s Park, offering a full range of services for younger children every day of the week, including drop-in stay and play.
At Bolingbroke, Windmill, Coronation Gardens, Triangle and York Gardens one o’clock centres, the money would be used to provide free nursery places in the mornings and play and stay services in the afternoons, potentially including weekends.
Play and stay services may incur small charges at some of the centres, but those at King George’s Park and York Gardens will remain free of charge, as will the drop-in stay and play services at the borough’s 14 other council-run children’s centres. They are also likely to remain open throughout the school holidays.
Children’s services spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said the council was working closely with nursery providers and voluntary groups to ensure that these sessions can be accessed at a range of time throughout the working day.
“Creating an extra 1,800 places in little over 18 months has been a major challenge and has meant we have had to explore changes to the way some council buildings operate, especially the one o’clock centres.
“However, I’m delighted to say that we are well on course to not only meet our nursery places target but to have also ensured that the flexibility is in place so that the very popular drop-in stay and play services can continue to be offered at one o’clock centres.”
A total of 894 extra nursery places will be available from September this year with another 894 to be provided in September 2014. These are aimed at families whose children qualify for free school meals.
Councillors will discuss the nursery investment proposals at the education and children’s services overview and scrutiny committee on June 20.
Follow us @SW_Londoner