The government’s proposal to roll out children’s trusts across
the country by 2006 before the model has been evaluated has
been criticised by leading figures in social care and education,
writes Amy Taylor.
Speaking at a conference on children’s trusts, Christine Davies,
corporate director of education and culture at Telford and Wrekin
Council, said that evaluation of the pathfinder children’s trusts –
only announced in July – was essential before the children’s green
paper proposal went ahead.
“The government needs to evaluate the success of children’s
trusts before rolling them out across the country,” she said.
Helen Goody, social services and health programme manager at the
Local Government Association, agreed that it was “a bit
premature to roll something out when you don’t know how it is
Goody also expressed concerns about the government’s target to
have trusts across the whole country by 2006. “Partnership working
is about giving up stuff and it takes time, you can’t do it unless
you trust the others around the table,” she said.
Andrew Christie, assistant director of children’s services at
Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which is piloting a
children’s trust, agreed that the target was “ambitious” and
doubted it would be met. He added that a lack of evaluation would
mean that trusts had to “learn on the go”.
Davies described how the education sector would need some time
to get used to jointly commissioning services with health and
social services, as required under the children’s trust
model. “Education has come late to the commissioning process and it
has got some learning to do,” she said.
She added that, although some of the education sector was
sceptical about how trusts would benefit them, she saw education as
having a lot to gain. She said the new structure would help the
sector to address issues such as mental health and behavioural
problems experienced by pupils.