The government has implemented the Children Act 2004 in stages.
Major milestones so far include the introduction of the duty to co-operate to improve the well-being of children, on 1 April 2005, the duty to promote the educational achievement of looked-after children (1 June 2005), and the duty to safeguard children (1 October 2005).
By 2006 most councils have had to put in place children’s trust arrangements, plus appoint a director of children’s services and lead member for children’s services, with the rest to follow by 2008.
- inter-agency co-operation to improve the wellbeing of children
- the children and young people’s plan, which councils were required to produce this year for the first time;
- the roles and responsibilities of the director and lead member for children’s services;
- local safeguarding children boards, the successor to area child protection committees, which councils had to set up by 1 April 2006. These are statutory bodies, whereas area child protection committees were not, and also have a wider remit and, in many cases, membership;
- and the duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
The government also published an updated version of its core child protection guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children.
The next major challenge is for councils to set up information-sharing indexes for children.
The government has just published guidance on this for consultation and wants the databases to be up and running by 2008.
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