Green Paper outlines radical change for children and young people’s services

A single, unique identification number for every child and young
person in England, plus new powers for agencies to share
information about children and their families are proposed in the
long awaited Green Paper on children’s services, published

The consultation document outlines plans for wide ranging change
in the organisation and delivery of services to children and young
people. Under the proposals, a new director of children’s
services would take over responsibility for early years, school,
and children’s social services in local authorities, with a
lead elected member for children on local councils. Local
authorities will keep a list of every child and young person in the
area, the services they have  had contact with and the contact
details of professionals who have worked with them.

Local  authorities would appoint a lead officer to make sure
information about individual children is collected and shared
across services for children – including health, social
services, Connexions, youth offending teams, children with special
education needs. Children known to more than one specialist agency
should have a single named professional to take the lead on their
case and be responsible for organising a package of services to
meet the individual child’s needs. New legislation is planned
to remove the current barriers to agencies and professionals
sharing information about children and young people in the Human
Rights Act and Data Protection Acts. The identification number may
be adapted from a child’s NHS number.

The government has asked for views on when – apart from in 
cases where there are child protection or youth offending concerns
– information about a child should be shared without the consent of
the child or their parents. It is also considering whether
information about parents such as mental health problems or
imprisonment should be shared between agencies without consent.

The intention is to enable children to be identified and helped
early on, but concerns have been expressed that the new measures
will be used mainly to support the government’s agenda on
youth crime rather than on meeting the needs of vulnerable

After years of campaigning by children’s charities and
children’s rights groups the government is also proposing to
establish a Children’s Commissioner for England, to report to
parliament annually, and to act as a children’s champion,
advising government but also engaging with other organisations
whose decisions and actions affect children such as businesses and
media. Scotland, Wales and northern Ireland already have a
children’s commissioner office.

The Green Paper, entitled Every Child Matters, was launched by
Education Secretary Charles Clark yesterday, not Tony Blair as
expected. When publication of the Green Paper was delayed in July,
the reason given by the government was that the prime minister
wanted to launch it himself, and his diary was full until after the

Alongside the Green Paper, proposals for changes to the youth
justice system were published. These include extending the use of
the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme, and
simplifying the system of community penalties.

Workforce reform

Far-reaching changes to the children’s services workforce
are proposed by the Green Paper, including a long-range strategy
for attracting more people of ability into social work with
children and families. The government is proposing a wholesale
review of rewards and incentives, a plus a workload survey to find
ways to restructure social workers jobs so they have more time for
face to face work with children and families.

But the proposals go much further, with the prospect of a new
integrated professional structure for everyone working with
children and young people. A new children’s workforce unit is
to be set up at the Department for Education and Skills plus a  new
Sector Skills council for children and young people’s
services. There will be common occupational standards to enable
people to move between jobs and a modular training and
qualifications structure “across the widest possible range of
workers in children’s services”. There would be a
common core of training for everyone working with children,
including GPs, teachers, police and prison offices as well as those
working only with children.

Read the Green Paper and the youth justice proposals at

Community Care is hosting an online discussion forum in a link
up with the Association of Directors of Social Services. Have your say

Or join an online discussion about the Green Paper’s proposals,
hosted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, at

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