Government considers joint working teams to improve care for children

The government is looking at setting up dedicated children’s teams
working across all relevant departments as part of its new strategy
for children at risk.

As well as setting standards for the care of vulnerable children,
the strategy, which is being consulted on and is due for
publication next April, is also looking at the role of social
workers and whether their skills are meeting the care needs of

The strategy team is visiting councils to assess the system,
focusing on joint working between social services, health and
education departments.

“Through the green paper, people are questioning whether there is a
need for a ‘children’s workforce’ and asking what competences are
needed,” said Jo Cleary, social services director at the City of
London, and a member of the Children’s National Service Framework

Speaking at last week’s Improving Children’s Services conference in
Birmingham, organised by the Harrogate Management Centre, she said
the idea was partly driven by the fragmentation of children’s
services through the “plethora” of new agencies and professionals
now working with children. “There’s so much duplication – we need
to meet the needs of children better,” said Cleary.

Cross-departmental working is considered vital to children’s
services because of the large number of agencies involved in
supporting children in care. If it fails, children often face
service delays because of multiple assessments. This can lead to
their safety being put at risk.

The strategy team is looking at professionals’ existing
responsibilities, how children are targeted and to what extent
services are shaped by their needs.

Meanwhile, Essex director of social services, Mike Leadbetter said
there was likely to be more joint working between health and social
care in children’s services, which could see more money coming from
NHS budgets.

Community Care understands that the Association of Directors of
Social Services has been told by home office minister John Denham
that the government will use “whatever powers we have” to force
health chiefs to relinquish money for care carried out by social
services. Leadbetter said that, so far, little money had come from
health budgets because of difficulties in assessing costs.

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