Government concessions on children’s directors and trusts

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Children’s minister Margaret Hodge

Children’s minister Margaret Hodge has confirmed that
there would be more flexibility around the role of director of
children’s services and an extension to the deadline of
introducing the posts and creating children’s trusts.

Hodge announced that the government had made concessions on the
role of children’s services director after listening to
concerns in the sector.

“There is more flexibility about how services are arranged
around the post and what level local authorities decide to put the
post at,” she said.

Although the government still expected local authorities to have
a children’s trust and a children’s services director,
Hodge said that they would now have more time to be established as
the deadline had been extended from 2006 to 2008.

Speaking later exclusively to Community Care,
Hodge confirmed that the deadline for the creation of the
children’s director posts would also be extended from 2006 to
2008.

She said the added flexibility around the posts also covered who
should fill it, explaining that the post-holders could come from
services outside education and social services, such as health or
youth justice.

Hodge said part of the £20 million change programme fund
announced today would be spent specifically on developing
leadership skills to help those filling these new director
posts.

According to the Children Bill, the same individual can be
appointed as director of children’s services in more than one
geographical area providing local agencies agree.

The minister hinted that the government’s plans for the shape
of children’s trusts had also become more flexible.
Professionals had raised concerns that they would be required to
move all their staff into a trust, but she said this would not be
the case.

“Trusts are about joint commissioning and pooling
budgets,” she added.

Hodge outlined that one source of funding for the new measures
could come from “reconfiguring” services for 13-19 year
olds by making sure that each young person had a lead professional
assigned to them.

The government would issue a report following the spending
review on how much they could spend. “Money matters, but it
is as such about changing the way people work and opening up the
way people share information across professional
boundaries”.

Hodge concluded that the new duty the bill placed on all
agencies to safeguard children would include children in Young
Offender Institutions.

 

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