Children’s Fund ‘failed to put long-term strategies in place’

A £960 million initiative to improve services for children and families at risk of social exclusion has failed to put long-term strategies in place, according to a government-backed evaluation.

The Children’s Fund, which runs until 2008, was described as a “lost opportunity to build a more sustainable strategy for prevention” by the study published by the Department for Education and Skills.

It found agencies in some areas worked in isolation from local authorities and other services “with the consequent risk that learning could be lost”. The active involvement of NHS partners was “extremely variable”, it added.

The evaluation also found that agencies funded under the initiative, which began in 2000, had paid “little attention” to changing mainstream services to make them work in more inclusive ways.

However, the report did have some praise for the fund, saying it had “filled an important gap” in provision for children not covered by Sure Start or Connexions.

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