Petition supports Sure Start sites
A group of angry mums used Mother's Day to protest in Downing Street about cuts to Sure Start Children's Centres.
The mothers and their little ones from the No Cuts for Kids campaign delivered a petition with 50,000 names of people opposing the centres' cuts and closures.
Though ministers insist there is sufficient money in the system, the Daycare Trust estimates up to 86% of centres face budget cuts and up to 250 could shut this year.
Staff at more than 1,000 centres have been issued with "risk of redundancy" notices, they said.
Louise King, a petition organiser and campaign co-founder, said: "Until now there has been no unified campaign. All of us are fighting different issues with individual councils. But Mother's Day is our opportunity to have a collective, much louder voice - asking for the Sure Start budget to be ringfenced."
She added about Sure Start: "They're a great leveller in our society. Everyone uses them and kids form all walks of life mix. Take them away or force them to make cutbacks and we'll see the next generation really suffer. Then the economy will suffer and who wins?"
Campaigns represented included mothers from Hampshire, Liverpool, Manchester, Derbyshire, Stoke, Kirklees, and many London boroughs with signatures collected on paper and online. After delivering the petition to Number 10, parents and their children sang nursery rhymes and painted faces.
A Department for Education spokesman said: "We have ensured there is enough money in the system to maintain a network of Sure Start Children's Centres, and provided new investment for health visitors.
"Local authorities have a legal duty to provide sufficient children's centre provision for the families in their areas and must consult local communities properly before closing or changing children's centres.
"Good local authorities are restructuring with care and making sensible changes - for example through 'clustering' of centres - so they can continue to provide much needed services for families but in a more efficient way."