Every worker matters too

The green paper, Every Child Matters, is set to
transform the shape of children’s services in this country.
The proposed structural reforms, including a statutory director of
children’s services in every local authority in charge of
education and children’s social services, a single assessment
process and single designated lead professional for each child
receiving specialist services, are steps on the way to providing
all services for children and young people through one single local
organisation, the children’s trust. These reforms have the
potential both to make resources go much further as processes are
streamlined and services commissioned and directed with more
precision, and to make it much easier for children and families to
navigate the system. But organisational change, as most 0-19
readers will be only too aware, has a high cost and carries many
risks. People at all levels of an organisation become preoccupied
by reorganisations for months. Stress takes its toll. Established
professional cultures and practices are disrupted which can have
dangerous consequences for children. For them, what matters far
more than any structure is the quality of their relationship with
the adults in their lives, including professionals. That is why the
proposals in the final section of the report, on workforce reform,
are crucial. Nothing will improve for children unless enough
skilled, able, committed professionals can be attracted into the
field and kept there. We desperately need an effective strategy for
building a flexible, decently rewarded, satisfying professional
career structure. It’s heartening to find just such a
strategy in chapter 6 of the green paper. Let’s hope the
government will put its money where its mouth is.

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