Children’s Fund extension given cautious welcome

News that the Children’s Fund is to be extended until 2008
has been greeted cautiously by programme managers,
writes Katie Leason.

Buried deep in chapter six of last week’s Budget report
was the revelation that the Children’s Fund was to be
continued to 2008 “to allow a smooth transition to new
children’s trusts”.

The initiative for vulnerable 5-13 year olds had been expected
to continue until 2006 although recent funding crises have thrown
even that date into uncertainty.

Earlier this year programmes were told that their funding was to
be cut by 15 per cent in 2004-5 and 30 per cent in 2005-6. However,
the government has since found the money needed to stave off the
cut for the coming financial year.

Anne McGrath, programme manager for Leeds Children’s Fund,
said that it was not all good news, as programmes did not know what
their financial situation would be after March 2005.

“Yes it’s very good news on one level, but it
doesn’t mean anything until they put something behind
it,” she said.

She added that effort was now needed to improve the
Children’s Fund’s reputation. The funding problems had
meant that the initiative had lost credibility, particularly among
some project staff who, faced with uncertain job prospects, had
left in search of more secure employment.

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