Grant scheme launched for open-access children’s services

A £1m start-up fund has been launched by the council to help community groups develop and deliver open-access children’s services.

Local solutions for open-access provision – such as ‘stay-and-play’ - will complement a comprehensive new service for 0-19-year-olds across Oxfordshire which ensures the most vulnerable children are protected and that families who need extra help are identified at an early stage.

As part of the council’s continuing investment in early intervention, and in addition to the £1m fund, new teams of ‘locality workers’ will advise and support community groups delivering open-access sessions – as well as other universal services such as schools, health and early years providers.

Council-funded open access provision will continue to be offered at the new children and family centres, and other buildings as part of the new 0-19 service from next year.

Specific needs

The council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families Melinda Tilley said: “We know how much communities value open access services and this funding is designed to help local groups respond to specific needs in local areas and develop the services that are most important to their communities.

“We have already been working with communities for several months to identify local solutions. Positive discussions are taking place at all children’s centre locations currently delivering open access services and significant progress has been made. Across our communities there is huge appetite to make this a success and every reason to believe it will be.”

Grant scheme

The grant scheme is intended to help groups establish themselves in order to become self-financing, and the grant can be used as match-funding to secure other sources of funding.

The council is working with Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA) to support groups with developing business plans. Some schemes are proposed to be managed by schools or parish councils, and others by community groups.

More detail on the application process and funding criteria can be found here.