Children's centre Ofsted success

YOUNGSTERS are celebrating after their children's centre was given a "good" report by a team of inspectors.

Chatham House Children's Centre, in Hartlepool's Chatham Road, was given the rating after a recent three-day inspection by an Ofsted team.

The council-run centre is one of eight in town that provides families with access to early learning and childcare, family support, health services and support for parents looking for employment.

Hartlepool Borough Council has a duty to provide children's centres to all families with children under the age of five as part of the Sure Start scheme.

Chatham House opened in 2006 and it provides a full-time day care provision for children from three months to school age in the Dyke House area of Hartlepool. The "reach population" of the centre is 433 but the number of children under five has steadily declined over the past three years in that area of town.

Inspectors praised the centre for supporting adults with mental health issues and for providing services for children with special needs or disabilities.

Their report concluded: "Chatham House Children's Centre provides good and improving support to children and families who live within its locality.

"Strengths include support for those with mental health issues, services for children with special educational needs and or disabilities, support for young mothers and well established, highly effective multi-agency partnerships which provide good quality care and support.

"The centre's approach to safeguarding is robust and in line with local strategic plans."

Danielle Swainston, the council's Sure Start, extended services and early years manager, said: "This report is a very positive result for the centre and everyone is really pleased.

"I would like to thank the staff for their hard work and also all the parents and families for their commitment to the centre.

"We are also aware that we still have work to do to make sure all families with children under five are involved, that is the ultimate aim."

The inspector's report will be discussed by councillor Cath Hill, portfolio holder for children's services, on Monday, January 24, at the Civic Centre, at 2pm.