Small voluntary children’s services organisations are facing closure due to funding changes, while many are unable to influence policy in their areas, umbrella body the National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations said today.
A survey of 108 children’s services charities, all with annual incomes of less than £250,000, found that nearly 10% were either being forced to wind up or under serious threat of closure due to lack of funds. Almost half of respondents had been negatively affected by changes, such as finance cuts or a short-term approach from funders.
One respondent said: “There’s a lot of confusion as to what fund to go to, and a lot of the statutory and high-profile organisations seem to have better information and access to funding.”
The survey comes ahead of major changes to the resourcing of children’s services, with the transfer of streams such as the Children’s Fund from central to local government control in April 2008.
A survey published last month by NCVCCO found that more than a third of voluntary and community sector organisations receiving Children’s Fund money expected to make staff redundant as councils took over responsibility.
Today’s survey also found that over a quarter of organisations were not involved in partnership structures designed to influence local services, with most of these being bodies with incomes of less than £50,000 a year. Also, just 38% of respondents reported attending safeguarding training, falling to 14% for organisations with no paid staff.
Jordan Thompson, small organisations development officer at NCVCCO, said: “There could be serious implications for vulnerable children, young people and families, some of whom rely solely on these organisations for support. Local commissioners should act urgently to assure stable accessible funding and to genuinely engage with all parts of the third sector.”
NCVCCO is calling on local authorities to maintain some form of grant funding for children’s services bodies and examine how they fund representational networks for third sector bodies, to improve their influence on services.
Essential information on children’s services
This article appeared in the 14 February issue under the headline “Funding changes threaten smaller children’s charities”