Youth justice could go to DfES

Youth justice may eventually be brought within the remit of the
Department for Education and Skills (DfES), children’s
minister Margaret Hodge has indicated. In her first speech since
her appointment, at a Local Government Association conference last
week, Hodge was asked about young offenders being separated off
from mainstream children’s services.

She said this was not the intention. “Many of the services
offered by the Home Office are working well and in the short term
it would have been unhelpful to move them,” Hodge said.

“It may well be that over time we go further, but this is
a huge chunk we’ve bitten off. Let’s get this right and
make sure you are on the ground able to deliver integrated

Hodge is heading a new directorate in the DfES which includes
Sure Start and early years, the Children and Young People’s
Unit and Children’s Fund, Connexions and youth work, the
careers services, child protection and children in care, parent
support services, family law, Cafcass and the court welfare
service, homelessness and social exclusion among young people and
extended schools.

One objective of the new unit was the mainstreaming into all
services of the lessons of targeted programmes such as Sure

Hodge said: “The opportunities we are developing for some
children must be available for all children. That is partly about
resources but it is also about all of us changing the way we work
and changing the way we use existing resources. The cultural
changes demanded of professionals to work in these new ways are
difficult and challenging. So we must provide proper and continuous
support and training to embed the new ways of working in the
culture of the workplace. We must value the different strengths of
different professional backgrounds, but recognise the importance of
multi-agency delivery.”

Hodge said the Green Paper would include proposals to give a
direct voice to children in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland have already established a children’s

She apologised for the disappointment caused by the delay to the
green paper until after the parliamentary summer recess but said
the fact that the prime minister wanted to be personally involved
in its launch was “a very good thing”.

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