How can the inevitable boundaries between services be prevented
from becoming barriers? It is a question that successive
generations of policy-makers have tried to answer, but sometimes it
seems that they are as far from finding a solution as ever. More
than three decades ago, Lord Seebohm thought that social services
departments would be the answer. They weren’t. Now we are supposed
to believe that Health Act partnerships, care trusts and children’s
trusts will be the answer. But will they be? Or will new barriers
replace the old?
If disability services are any guide, the omens are bad. Disabled
children may receive services, but the consequent financial needs
of their parents are often overlooked. And when it is the parents
who are disabled, they may be denied the support they require to be
effective as parents while their children are treated as in need.
The danger is that children’s trusts will deepen the divide between
adults’ and children’s services. This must not be allowed to
happen. If it does, in 30 years’ time another generation of
policy-makers will be talking as Seebohm did about the virtues of
integrating services for children and adults.