SERVICES for children of women fleeing domestic violence in Kirklees could be cut because of a funding crisis.
Until now, specialist children's services such as counselling and creches in Kirklees' two women's refuges - in Huddersfield and Dewsbury - have been paid for using grants from Kirklees Council social services.
The grants were not specifically for children, but were offered as top-up cash for the refuges to use as they wished.
But at the end of this month, the top-up funding will be cut, leaving children's services at both Kirklees refuges in crisis.
The only regular funding left is for adult refuge services.
This comes from Supporting People, an agency set up by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister last April to bring all funding sources for refuges into one organisation.
The Huddersfield refuge is run by Pennine Domestic Violence Group.
Its director Ena Mercy said the only funding left for children's services is not permanent but intended to kick-start short-term projects.
She has managed to keep staff on at the Huddersfield refuge to serve children aged five to 13, thanks to a grant from the Children's Fund.
But this only lasts until 2005 and does not fund work with children under five.
She said: "All we can hope is to keep getting short-term funding, but when it runs out you are left high and dry.
"When you re-apply they only want to fund new short-term work.
"We can't give continuous and progressive services to children because of this. We need secure and permanent funding."
West Yorkshire Housing Association, which runs the Dewsbury refuge, has applied for cash from Children In Need to plug the funding gap. But the result of its bid will not be known until April.
Christine Fox, director of housing services for West Yorkshire Housing Association, said the housing association board had agreed to use money from other areas of the organisation to fund the refuge's children's services for a year.
"This means we are running at a deficit and if funding is not found by next year, we will no longer be able to provide children's services.
"We have had social services grants since the early 1980s, so to have it withdrawn has had a huge effect."
Both groups said the dire situation contradicted the Government's promise to support children at the first sign of trouble in their lives.
The promise was made in its Green Paper, Every Child Matters.
Ms Mercy said: "Domestic violence is a Government priority and a major priority within Supporting People, but the needs of children are being ignored.
"Children in refuges are isolated, they leave schools, family and friends behind, so there is a need for one-to-one support for these children."