The new government strategy to shape children’s social services
will focus on setting aspirational outcomes for councils to
achieve, a senior civil servant said last week.
Sue Lewis, deputy director of the children and young people’s unit
(CYPU), told the National Council of Voluntary Child Care
Organisations conference in York that the new children and young
people’s strategy would be driven by a set of objectives for
delivering better educational, health and social outcomes.
Lewis said there was a strong feeling in government that the
strategy should set out the overriding principles for all local
children’s services, both voluntary and statutory.
The strategy will set five main outcomes for councils to achieve,
covering health and emotional well-being, safety, fulfilment,
mental well-being and social engagement. It will also set
priorities, define objectives and spell out how the outcomes meet
existing government objectives.
Lewis said there would be key areas in the strategy tackling
teenage pregnancy, obesity and crime and providing children with a
place to go for advice.
The UK has some of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, crime
and abuse against young people in Europe. The government was
criticised recently by a UN report into the treatment of children
(news, page 10, 10 October).
The CYPU is to issue interim guidance to local authorities in
December on how to achieve the strategy’s objectives. The strategy
is expected to be published next spring alongside the green paper
on children at risk of social exclusion.
Local authorities will then have to analyse how local preventive
strategies meet the objectives and identify gaps in services.
The local preventive strategies should be in place by April 2003,
although Lewis said the government did not expect councils to have
“dotted every I and crossed every T” by then.
“If a council came to us and said ‘give us an extra six months so
that we can involve young people’, I think we would say yes,” she