22/04/2002

New arrangements for Stormont’s children’s fund

Voluntary and community sectors will be allowed to bid directly for funding for projects that provide support for children and young people.

The Northern Ireland Executive decided to allocate an additional £3 million to the Fund, and that £9 million out of the new total of £21.5 million would be directly accessible by the voluntary and community sector.

The Executive Programme Fund for Children was set up to provide direct support for children in need and young people at risk. The Executive has made it clear from the outset that it wished to see the community and voluntary sector play an important role in the Children’s Fund.

Speaking following the Executive’s agreement on the way forward for the Children’s Fund, the First Minister David Trimble said: “Supporting children at risk has been a key priority under the Executive Programme Funds and for that reason, as part of our first Programme for Government and first budget, we created a dedicated Children’s Fund. The Executive’s decision to provide additional resources to the Fund and to widen access to these resources underpins this commitment.”

Deputy First Minister, Mark Durkan highlighted the emphasis that the Executive has placed on partnership working across sectors: “I am convinced that it is only through working in partnership across the statutory, voluntary and community sectors that we will be able to effectively tackle some of the key challenges that lie in the way of achieving a safe, happy and fulfilling childhood for all our children.

“The additional money we have announced today will mean that even more good projects will receive support.”

Dr Sean Farren, the Minister for Finance and Personnel also indicated his support for the decision reached. "The creation of the Executive Programme Fund for Children received widespread support from across all sectors and has stimulated particular interest among those in the voluntary and community sector who work with children and their families.

"This decision by the Executive paves the way for the Fund to provide support directly to many of these organisations where they can demonstrate that they have projects that meet the aims, principles and criteria set for the Fund. We will soon make a more detailed announcement about the arrangements for bidding to the Fund. In the meantime, I hope this announcement will act as a signal to interested organisations to give some early thought to projects that might meet the criteria of the Fund and have the potential to provide direct support to children in need and young people at risk.”

(AMcE)

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