Agencies should be told to work with councils on children’s services

The children at risk green paper should place a legal
requirement on all agencies involved in the delivery of
children’s services to co-operate with social services to
safeguard children, according to local government organisations,
writes Clare Jerrom.

The Local Government Association, the Association of Directors
of Social Services, the NHS Confederation, the Association of Chief
Education Officers, and the Confederation of Education Service
Managers, want the long-awaited green paper to include a
“series of interlocking statutory duties and powers”
for service providers.

These would include each agency having a new statutory duty to
safeguard children and a supporting duty to “make appropriate
arrangements” to discharge that duty. There would also be a
duty to co-operate with one another and a supporting discretionary
power to pool staff and resources as necessary.

Directors of social services have long complained that, without
incentives to ensure health, education and others play an active
part, implementation of the paper could be left solely to social

Currently, under the Children Act 1989, although social services
can request assistance from education, housing and health partners
in child protection issues, they can not force them to help and
have no power to ask for assistance from other agencies, including
those working in the voluntary and private sectors.

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