HILLSBOROUGH Children’s Centre has been branded totally inadequate by inspectors who found it failing to meet the needs of families in Sheffield.
The centre was given the lowest rating in 17 separate categories covering the whole of its operations.
Council officers have ordered urgent action to tackle its problems.
And unions said the failings were a direct consequence of understaffing brought by government cuts.
Regional Unison officer Chris Jenkinson said: “It is indicative of life today in the public sector where, due to the austerity programme, a whole range of services is failing to meet the needs of the community, putting vulnerable families at risk.”
The facility, which opened four years ago, is on a site shared with Hillsborough Primary School close to the football stadium.
It provides support for young children and a range of services for parents including midwifery clinics, a creche, and help with breastfeeding.
Inspectors found the centre’s work had been disrupted by a reorganisation a year ago which had reduced its effectiveness.
It was suffering from poor leadership, poor management and staff absences and was showing little sign of any improvement.
The centre’s safety policies were also criticised - staff were unclear about fire evacuation procedures, the outdoor play area was unsafe and the entrance gate was not secure.
The play area had a drain cover missing and sharp objects were scattered on the ground.
Improving the situation had to be given the highest priority, inspectors said.
Staff did not have enough information about vulnerable children and were ineffective in giving them the early intervention and support they needed.
They did not know which children were subject to protection plans or who were in care.
The number of families registered with the centre was low and too few got involved in its activities, the inspection team found.
Only four per cent of single parents in the area were on the centre’s books, and there was no one-to-one support or home visits due to staff shortages.
Those who did enjoyed good quality services from the midwives - but the centre was not improving health in the area as it wasn’t reaching enough people.
The city’s executive director of children’s services Dr Sonia Sharp said: “We accept more things need to improve at the centre and we are looking at this as a matter of priority.”