Positive start for Children’s Fund

Services provided by the first wave of Children’s Fund
partnerships are well-targeted, engage children and their families
and have good participation rates, according to a new review.

Of the 18 first wave partnerships visited by inspectors from the
Social Services Inspectorate, Ofsted and the Audit Commission, 16
have been judged as satisfactory and two were good.

David Bell, Chief Inspector of Schools, said: “It is exciting to
see such creative ideas being generated across the boundaries of
education, health and social care, to address children’s needs from
a young age in order to help them realise their potential.”

In the first of the four planned phases, the partnerships’
priority so far has been setting up services aimed at preventing
low school achievement, reducing crime and improving health among
children showing early signs of difficulty.

Inspectors found that the work of the Children’s Fund is helping
to develop a framework for organising local preventive services and
that the contribution of local voluntary agencies is

However, although statutory services have been willing
recipients and providers of the newly funded services, there is
variation as to the extent to which the lessons that are being
learned have been used to stimulate local strategic

Partnerships and statutory agencies were often found to use the
fund as simply another grant and do not always use the experience
to reflect on the organisation of their existing services or to
collaborate to support developments across the boundaries of
school, health and social care.

The report, which is published by OFSTED, has recommended that
partnerships make systematic and regular opportunities for children
and young people to contribute to an evaluation of their progress
and the work of the services which they use.

The inspectors also recommend that the partnerships effectively
identify children showing signs of difficulty to ensure they are
referred to services when they need them and introduce clearer
procedures for commissioning services and conducting risk

They also say that they partnerships must support children
through transitions, in particular, improving the liaison between
their programmes and Sure Start and Connexions services.

Further inspection is planned to help to determine how well the
Children’s Fund partnerships, The Children’s Fund, which was
established in 2001 with an initial allocation of  £380
million over three years, prevent problems such as low school
attainment when the children are older.

The inspection report can be found at www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/docs/3330.pdf

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