Leading charity questions the direction of children’s services

Government ministers and children’s service providers must all
accept leadership responsibility for the direction of children’s
services or services will “not make any difference” to the lives of
vulnerable children, according to Roger Singleton, chief executive
of children’s charity Barnardo’s.

Singleton told delegates at a children’s services conference in
London last week that the sector was “at a crossroads” in the sense
that the end is in sight for current initiatives, such as Quality
Protects and visions for the future of children’s services were now
being shaped.

One such
vision was the “over-arching strategy for children and young
people” being drawn up by the government’s children and young
people’s unit (CYPU). With public consultation on the strategy
ending last week, Singleton said: “The exciting thing about this is
it’s the first time the government has committed itself to a series
of statements about what it wants for all children.”

But he
cast doubt on the CYPU’s vision, pointing out that ministers from
only three government departments had so far signed up to the
strategy’s aims – Home Office minister for young people John
Denham, education and skills secretary Estelle Morris and
chancellor Gordon Brown – with the Department of Health conspicuous
by its absence.

real test for this is the extent to which individual government
departments are prepared to subjugate their interests to the wider
good [of a children’s strategy],” he said. “There’s a lot to do
before these aspirations make sense to the vulnerable children
we’re dealing with.”

the CYPU is also working with the Treasury on a cross-cutting
review of children at risk, which will feed into the government’s
2002-3 to 2005-6 spending review, Singleton said that the
children’s services sector lacked leadership.

“At the
national political level, I’m not sure who’s leading that,” he
said, adding that instead of the sector despairing and opting out
of the process, it must accept some leadership responsibility for
what happens in children’s services over the next two or three
years, too. Without competent workers supported and challenged by
competent professional managers, simply “shoving around the
structure furniture” would not make any difference at all, he

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.