Prevention will be focus of proposals

The Green Paper on children at risk will have a special focus on
workforce issues, according to Children and Young People’s
Unit director Althea Efunshile.

In the keynote address at the New Beginnings conference,
organised by 0-19 and the CYPU, Efunshile said the green
paper’s purpose was to shift the balance in services from
crisis intervention to prevention for children at risk of
educational failure, offending, being victims of crime, bullying
and abuse, and poor physical or mental health.

But Sharon Moore, principle policy officer at the
Children’s Society, warned that children at risk were being
denied services due to the government’s misplaced focus on
actual and potential youth offending.

“Children’s organisations are concerned that resources are
focused away from children with current needs to those who are
labelled a risk in society,” she said.

She added that at present children had to be seen as potential
offenders to receive services and that offending was focused on at
the expense of other needs. “The narrowing of the focus down on
offending and potential offending denies the needs of others,” she

Moore also voiced doubts about the ability to target potential
offenders before they broke the law. “The truth is we cannot
predict which child will offend,” she said.

Efunshile said both the green paper and the Strategy for
Children and Young People were still expected to appear by early
summer. The strategy would set outcomes across the whole of
children and young people’s lives, and would provide a focus
for policy over the coming 10 years and beyond.

She argued for preventive approaches within universal services
for children, instead of singling out particular children for
separate provision. “We cannot serve children at risk well if we
serve them in isolation from the rest. Preventive approaches in
universal services are key, and support for children and young
people needs to be located in the context of wider community
regeneration and better outcomes for all children.”

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