New inclusion plan for children on the cards

New early intervention services based in
schools for children in difficulty are likely to be announced in
the forthcoming spending review, according to children’s fund head
Kathy Bundred.

Speaking at a session on ending
social exclusion for children and families, Bundred said she hoped
the school-based services would be an example of the new
initiatives for children and young people which are based on
partnerships altering the shape of mainstream services.

new services were most likely to be provided by voluntary sector
organisations, and would give additional support to children who
need it at an early stage, said Bundred.

Start’s head Naomi Eisenstadt said it was too early to know about
outcomes for children, but said lessons were being learned about
how to deliver services to the poorest families.

said there was still a reluctance among some people to spend public
money on children under five, although the impact of living in
poverty was greater on young children than other age groups.
Building services designed on community views was not always
straightforward when there were very diverse views within

housing estate had six “loud mouths” who could absorb a high
proportion of staff time and discourage other parents from getting
involved, she said. Eisenstadt also admitted that some Sure Start
projects had experienced difficulty reaching out to those very
vulnerable families who were reluctant to use services but needed

said setting up the projects took much longer than initially
thought and many agencies found partnership working very

It was
not possible to respond flexibly to local community needs if
service models based on evidence of “what works” were imposed from
above, Eisenstadt said. Many parents had gained a great deal from
involvement in Sure Start, and there were examples of families
trying to get housing transfers on to estates where there were Sure
Start projects.

Barnes, director of the Child Poverty Action Group, welcomed the
government’s “bold” pledge to abolish child poverty in 20 years,
but criticised ministers for failing to admit that progress had
been disappointing.

pointed out that child poverty levels were still “scandalously”
high in some communities, with 73 per cent of children in Pakistani
and Bangladeshi families living in poverty, and 41 per cent of all
children living in London.


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