Change in charity's structure drives nursery expansion

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One of the largest voluntary childcare providers in Cornwall is celebrating gaining new CIO status in its 25th birthday year.

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Stepping Stones Scol Kensa

Stepping Stones Childcare has chosen the move to Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) status to become a legal entity in its own right so that the group can expand more easily, without placing the burden on individual trustees

The St Austell charity currently offers affordable childcare to around 200 children over two settings, Mount Charles and Scol Kensa.

There are plans to open a third site before the end of the year, which will offer around 50 places.

Charity manager Julie Double said, ‘Previously, as an unincorporated charity, we were limited in how much we could expand because of the legal burden this type of charitable status placed on individual trustees. Becoming a CIO makes us more flexible, and this will support our exciting plans to expand. As an organisation we can now own property and enter into contracts, rather than the trustees doing it.’

The Government created this new form of charitable status in 2013. Ms Double said that the whole process has taken two years to finalise.

‘The transfer to CIO status has been a complex and drawn out procedure,’ she added. ‘With freehold and leased properties to consider, new Ofsted regulations to manage and employees to transfer, it hasn’t been easy and we are really pleased to be announcing the transfer is complete.'

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Mount Charles Pre-school in St Austell

Ms Double added, ‘In an economically deprived area, having childcare that is both flexible and affordable is important, helping parents to be able to work to support their families and to help ensure their children are ready for their transition to school. Our flexible approach means parents can book times that suit them. When people work part-time or shift patterns, this really matters and our pricing structure also makes us more accessible to people on low incomes.

‘Our town has one of the highest levels of unemployment in Cornwall, and part of our objective is to be accessible for all. Our fees are set as low as we dare to enable children from all walks of life to attend. With our new status we can continue to expand in the future, providing a much-needed service for children in this area.’

 

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