I attended my local Children’s Centre consultation event, and was completely flabbergasted by what surely must be one of the most audacious missuses of figures ever attempted. Even for RMBC this was ambitious.
My concerns fall into three areas.
1) Credibility of Statistics.
We were informed that the decision as to which centres would close was based on an index of deprivation and poverty of children under 5. We were then told that Aughton Early Years Centre (which is staying open) had 411 children in that category, but then we were told that neighbouring Kiveton and Wales apparrently has no children whatsoever in that category. Anyone who knows anything about these two communities knows this is quite literally ‘ incredible ‘. Socioeconomically these two communities must be nearly identical.
2) Irrelevance of statistics
We were then informed that the statistics being used for the consultation were (unbelievably) from 2010. that means not only were they out of date but utterly useless, as these stats pertain to children under 5, for them to be 4 years out of date, means that the vast majority of the children classed as living in deprivation are no longer in that age range anyway. By the time the centres close next year, none of those children will be under 5. Why not simply use the 2013 or at least the 2012 stats ? (I know from speaking to professionals these annual stats exist) and if the argument is, that there’d be no significant difference anyway, then simply publish them and base the consultation on those stats. let me hazard a guess though this won’t happen.
3)Why was a single set of statistics used ?
We need to see the whole picture. Alongside stats on deprivation we need to see stats on, how many families are being served that have suffered post natal depression, that shows how many children are being served that have delayed development or disabilities, that shows how many children using the centres are fostered or adopted, and then we need to see how effective the centres are in meeting needs and delivering these services. Why would you not base such crucial decisions on a truly holistic picture ?
This consultation is not on a sound basis whatsoever, and it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the outcome isn’t being engineered. The old adage comes to mind, that “there are lies, damn lies and statistics”