New dawn for children’s services sees creation of dedicated director posts

Every local authority should appoint a new director of
children’s services to take responsibility for children’s social
services and education, under far-reaching proposals in the
children’s green paper – Every Child Matters – announced
this week.

The massive shake-up forms part of the government’s plans to reform
children’s services in response to the report into Victoria
Climbi”s death, which called for “a clear line of accountability”.
Prime minister Tony Blair, who launched the document, said her case
was a “shocking example from a list of children terribly mistreated
and abused” which is “a standing shame to us all”.

Following consultation, which ends on 1 December, the government
intends to draw up legislation on integrating key services under
the umbrella of children’s trusts.

The new children’s directors will oversee the trusts which should
be established in most areas by 2006. Alongside education and
children’s social services, the trusts’ remit should also include
some community and acute health services.

Area child protection committees face scrapping and replacement by
local safeguarding children boards. These would be chaired by
children’s directors and include representatives from health and
housing services, with responsibility for co-ordinating partner
agencies’ functions in relation to child protection.

Every local authority should name a lead official to collect and
share information across services – a task helped by every child
having a single unique identity number in the future.

Professionals will be urged to work in multi-agency teams based
around schools and children’s centres. Where children are known to
more than one specialist agency, a single named professional should
lead the case.

Inspectors should monitor how services work together to improve
children’s lives and an integrated inspection framework will be
created, led by Oftsed.

An independent children’s commissioner would be appointed as the
voice of all children and report to parliament through Charles
Clarke, education and skills secretary.

The government recognises that for the proposals to succeed it will
have to tackle recruitment and retention problems. It proposes a
recruitment campaign for the children’s workforce, more flexible
training routes into the profession and a children’s workforce unit
that can develop a pay and workforce strategy.

“Revitalisation of the social care workforce for children will be
critical to our mission,” Blair added. 

Every Child Matters from

Key proposals

  • Children’s directors in every local authority to be responsible
    for children’s social services and education.
  • Children’s commissioner for England appointed.
  • Children’s services brought together under children’s
  • Multi-agency teams based in schools and children’s
  • Local safeguarding children boards to replace area child
    protection committees.
  • Children’s services to be inspected on joint working through an
    integrated inspection framework overseen by Ofsted.
  • Development of a single unique number for every child to help
    electronic information-sharing among agencies.
  • Establishment of a children’s workforce unit.


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