Ministers to consider children’s trust bids

The government has received bids to run pilot children’s
trusts from 45 local authorities, writes Derren

The news comes as health minister Jacqui Smith gave details of
the shape of children’s trust bids, following the passing of
the deadline for expressions of interest on 31 March.

Smith said some bids had focused on delivering services for
specific client groups while others had taken a broader view of
commissioning children’s services. However, all will develop
models that involve joint working between social services,
education and health professionals.

Some bids have involved the community, private and voluntary
sectors enabling them to play a greater role in delivering
services, while others have suggested locating services in
neighbourhood centres and the government’s new
‘extended’ schools. While youth offending teams will
not be involved in the trusts, those services will be included in

Councils that delegate responsibility for service commissioning
and delivery to trusts will still be held accountable for the
services they provide.

The government will be holding interviews with shortlisted
councils during May before deciding on the successful bids to run
pilots. Those selected will receive £60,000 in funding with an
additional £40,000 for large or complex trusts potentially

Successful bidders will also have to undertake a wide
consultation with local communities, agencies and all staff that
will be involved in the trust on the impact the changes could have
on services and working practices.

Meanwhile, the government has established a national group of
leading experts from the voluntary, statutory and private sectors
to review care arrangements for looked after children.

The ‘National Partnership in Placement Forum’ will bring
together service commissioners from health, education and social
services, along with representatives from private and voluntary
foster agencies to look at how services should be organised for
children in care.

Introduced under the Choice Protects programme, the government
wants the forum to look at how departments and agencies work
together, where this can be improved and what can be done to tackle
education and health inequalities for looked after children.

Its main objective will be to produce a strategic agreement
about the way services should be commissioned, and will look at the
best way to meet the individual needs of children and how best to
maintain quality in foster placements.

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