The Children’s Fund will get £396 million over the next three years as part of measures unveiled today by Ed Balls, the secretary of state for children, schools and families.
Balls said the money, which extends the life of the existing Fund beyond March 2008, would support projects specialising in early intervention and prevention that were having a “notable impact” on school attendance.
He also pledged £60 million to support schools in working with mental health practitioners to improve children’s wellbeing and to have mental health experts working in schools to identify problems.
Ball announced a Staying Safe consultation to get children learning and exploring safely “without being wrapped in cotton wool” which would look at extending anti-bullying policies to children’s homes, extended school services and youth groups.
The DCSF will also take on dual responsibility with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for developing “fun, safe and effective” children’s play.
Balls confirmed a consultation would take place on a new nationwide Children’s Plan looking at prevention, personalisation of services, positive childhood and families.
In his first ministerial speech at the National Children’s Bureau in London today, Balls said schools had “vital role” to play in identifying where families and children needed extra help, but said children’s professionals needed to do more.
“Too often, school staff tell me that they end up plugging the gaps that other children’s professionals should be filling,” he said.
Balls added: “I recognise that there will always be challenges over resources – particularly in social care and health. But this isn’t just about money and staffing levels. It’s also about leadership, judgement and effective partnership.”
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