Green paper inspires bill to protect children but the jury is out on trusts

The introduction of legislation to safeguard children and
protect their rights will be a main plank of the government’s plans
for next year, it was confirmed last week.

As widely predicted, the child protection bill was one of the 23
unveiled in the Queen’s speech to open the new parliamentary

It will contain proposals to come out of the children’s green
paper Every Child Matters, including the establishment of
local safeguarding children boards to replace area child protection
committees and the creation of a children’s commissioner for

Although details will not be finalised until the bill is
published early next year, it will include controversial plans to
merge the chief education officer and social services director
roles to create children’s services directors with statutory
responsibility for all children’s education and social

It will also legislate for councils to appoint a lead member for
children and to promote the educational achievement of children in
care. Barriers to information sharing among professionals working
with children will be removed and an inspection framework for
services introduced.

But the omission of the blanket introduction of children’s trusts
by 2006 pleased the Association of Directors of Social

“We hope this signals there is room for further discussion on the
topic, but only if the many reasoned criticisms are listened to,”
said ADSS president Andrew Cozens.

The introduction of a children’s commissioner was welcomed, but
with caveats. Rehabilitation agency Nacro said it was unclear
whether the post-holder would have jurisdiction over some of the
most vulnerable children.

“We would do well to remember that youngsters in trouble with the
law are more often than not children who are troubled and in need
of positive support,” chief executive Paul Cavadino said.

The Queen’s speech also included plans for a Child Trust Fund Bill,
under which every newborn baby will receive a £250
contribution from the state.

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