Children’s Fund

One of the most prominent and, when launched, one of the most controversial of Labour’s initiatives, it has now absorbed the far less well-known On Track. There were suggestions that central government was spending vast sums which would be better within the direct management of local authorities. Paul Boateng, then Home Office minister responsible, said that the decision to keep the money within Whitehall was the suspicion about how effective local authorities were when it came to children’s services.

The fund came out of the then Social Exclusion Unit’s Policy Action Team on Young People, which highlighted the need for preventative services. The fund’s own role in prevention is part of a range of measures aimed at ensuring that vulnerable children get the best start in life, flourish at school and choose to stay on at school or enter training at 16.

It funds preventive services that are also aimed at families. It will target 5-13 year olds at risk of social exclusion, bridging the gap between Sure Start (qv) and Connexions (qv) to deliver preventive services over and above those in the statutory mainstream and specific programmes.

The fund’s work began in three stages and by April 2003 it had covered the whole of England. The first 40 areas were those with highest child poverty levels, with a number of rural and coastal areas, with special problems, being selected. Areas have to identify partnerships with voluntary and statutory agencies, and community and faith groups and young people. Projects can be as varied as counselling to the arts, sport and literacy, family support to health awareness.

Other UK equivalents: Children and Youth Partnership Fund (Wales)

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