A halt to policy flip flops
by Bronagh Miskelly (right)
Young people in the UK have, unknowingly, been subject to a tidal wave of children’s policy. The funding and initiatives intended to help them grow up are barely established before they are reversed.
According to a report from Action for Children (as NCH becomes today), there have been more than 400 initiatives, pieces of legislation, policy developments and funding streams in the children’s arena in the past 21 years.
The effect is short-termism and a lack of clarity on targets, approaches and desired outcomes. For example, policy has switched from a focus on prevention to crisis-management and back again, making it near impossible for those delivering services to catch up. Often these flips and flops are the result of political expediency, reacting to media events or high-profile shocking cases.
But this could damage the care of children, whose fundamental needs do not change much over time.
Action for Children is calling for greater political consensus with cross-party agreements. At Community Care we suggest a step further – it may be time to separate children’s services from politics with the creation of a non-political body, an NHS equivalent, to ensure children’s services are protected from the knee-jerks of party politics.