Government promises green paper for vulnerable children

Children’s charities have welcomed Tony Blair’s
announcement last week that a green paper to identify ways of
improving services for children and young people is being prepared,
writes Clare Jerrom.

Director of public policy at children’s charity, NCH,
Caroline Abrahams, said: “NCH welcomes this green paper on
children at risk and particularly hope that it will lead to the
introduction of more preventative services for children and more
support for families in need.”

The Children at Risk green paper, which will be published as a
consultation document early next year, will consider measures to
reduce the levels of educational underachievement, offending,
anti-social behaviour, teenage pregnancy and ill health.

The preparation of the paper will be overseen by a new cabinet
sub-committee chaired by chief secretary to the Treasury Paul
Boateng and will be carried out by a team working in the Cabinet

Minister for children and young people John Denham, who will
have day-to-day oversight of the work of the Cabinet Office
drafting team, said: “Prevention has been at the heart of the
government’s approach to tackling social exclusion. Sure
Start, the Children’s Fund, providing targeted services to
children in deprived areas, and Connexions are widening
opportunities to all children and families.”

“But we have to go further. Too many children are only
given the help they need when they reach crisis point.”

In August, Denham announced that local systems to identify,
track and refer children at risk of offending, drug taking or
teenage pregnancies would be put in place over the next year.

The green paper will focus on the identification, referral and
tracking of children at risk and the provision of mainstream and
specialist services to them. It will also look at an overhaul of
existing arrangements and at services working with young people
including social services and youth justice services, as well as
the role of schools, families and communities.

“The green paper will enable us to look at the whole scope of
children at risk to ensure we tackle problems as early as
possible,” Denham concluded.

However, head of policy at children’s charity
Barnardo’s said there were concerns that the emphasis on IRT
might alter and skew the good work the Children’s Fund was

“It is about enabling all children to do well and not
about preventing them from getting into trouble,” she

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