Children's Centre: Anger as Manx charity ends 'universal services'

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Image caption,
The charity is marking its 150th anniversary in 2018

Parents have reacted angrily to news that the Isle of Man Children's Centre is to stop providing nursery education.

The charity, in its 150th year, said early years services will end on 23 March, with its family placement service - including fostering and adoption - will closing in September.

Chief executive Fiona Dawson said the move was needed to "operate sustainably in a challenging environment".

Twenty of the Manx charity's 95 staff could lose their jobs as a result.

Mrs Dawson said: "In our 150th year, The Children's Centre is taking active steps to refocus its activities back to its core services to ensure it remains relevant."

The charity's early years services include the nursery, breakfast, after school and holiday clubs at Woodbourne Road in Douglas, and a nursery at Laxey.

It says it will focus on providing services for children with additional needs rather than everybody.

The charity said the latter was a "competitive environment met by other existing providers".

In addition, the Centre also announced its decision to pull out of its contract with the Department of Health and Social Care to provide family placement services, which include adoption and fostering.

'No pre-school education'

The charity said it has contacted all service users to help them find alternative providers.

But some parents have voiced their shock and disappointment on social media.

Emma Callister wrote on the charity's Facebook page that many only found out last night via social media, which is "not acceptable."

Joanne Moore said: "I am absolutely disgusted by the Children Centre's management. They don't care about the children or this wouldn't be happening.

"I found out through Facebook and haven't been officially been informed by letter. My child goes full-time."

Nikola Brindley said: "I've rung a few nurseries this morning and playgroups in the north and there are no spaces available.

"So come March my child and I suspect many others will have no pre-school education."

Anne-Marie Ball wrote: "It's such a shame an amazing nursery is closing. It seems very quick - only giving parents until March when nurseries are so busy."

The charity confirmed the Community Farm and MOBEX outdoor adventure will continue to operate.

A spokesman employees were being supported and, where required, helped to find alternative employment.

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