The process of integrating Connexions services into children’s trusts must be managed carefully to ensure young people do not slip through the net, experts have warned.
Mike Davey, chief executive of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Connexions Partnership, said one of the key issues around delivering the green paper’s proposals relating to Connexions was maintaining good service delivery at a time of change.
“It is easy to take that for granted,” he warns. “But people become focused on what’s going to happen to them.”
The partnership is one of 11 already moving towards children’s trust arrangements with local authorities and aims to be operational by April 2006, with staff integrating into the two councils’ planned multi-disciplinary teams between then and September 2006.
He said one way to ease the transition was to ensure that staff were brought on board at every step of the way, which seemed to have worked in his partnership.
“The main reason for that, apart from good communication channels, is because we have argued that the change is for the benefit of the users,” he said. “We have started all discussions from the point of the young person.”
The National Association of Connexions Partnerships echoed Davey’s warning, calling for young people’s needs to remain in focus during the transition period and insisting that government targets, specifically the one to reduce the numbers not in education, employment or training by 2010, must not be put at risk.
NACP executive director Carolyn Caldwell added: “When there’s lots of structural change you tend to take your eye off the ball. But there will be a lot of young people who are going to need us – young people who are there now, not just the ones who will be 13 in 2008.”