Fund for community-run children’s services to reopen

Yet more community groups will have the chance to secure start-up funding to run open access children’s services.

The council last year opened a £1m Transition Fund to help schemes for nought to five-year-olds get off the ground at locations formerly served by children’s centres. To date a total of 27 projects have been awarded funding – in addition to open access sessions at the council’s network of eight family centres.

The final round of applications ended earlier this year, with £232,000 remaining unallocated. The council’s Cabinet today agreed to reopen the applications process to enable new groups to come forward with their plans.

The funding criteria will be broadened to allow groups to apply for grants in locations not previously served by children’s centres, or where a children’s centre has been repurposed – for instance, as a nursery.

In a decision deferred from a previous round of applications, the Cabinet also approved a £30,000 grant for the Aspire Oxford community group to run children’s services from Florence Park Children’s Centre.

Innovative schemes

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities Mark Gray said: “We’ve seen many fantastic and innovative schemes coming forward as part of this initiative, and the response from local communities has been superb.

“In many cases what parents are seeing when they come into these centres is little different from when they were fully funded by the council, and that’s testament to the commitment and hard work of local people who have made this happen.

“I want to encourage yet more groups to come forward so that every penny of the Transition Fund can go towards open access children’s service provision in Oxfordshire.”

Community groups interested in finding out more about the Transition Fund and running open access children’s services should contact localities@oxfordshire.gov.uk