Directors’ worried over new boards

Concerns have been raised about the government’s push to ensure all
local safeguarding children boards are chaired by directors of the
new children’s trusts.

A Community Care straw poll of directors of social
services from around England has revealed fears that the move would
compromise the independence of the statutory boards, which will
replace area child protection committees.

In the children’s green paper, the government said it expected
children’s trust directors to have responsibility for heading the

Wes Cuell, director of social services at Luton Council and
chairperson of the local ACPC, said he assumed the government had
made the decision in order to assure strong accountability. But he
insisted that this could be achieved without the children’s
director taking on the role.

He said a lot of ACPCs had started to move towards independent
chairpersons. “Someone who has no axe to grind can be a powerful
voice on an ACPC,” Cuell added.

Alan Jones, independent chairperson of Sheffield ACPC, agreed that
it was important to keep the roles separate, while Sally Trench,
head of commissioning, child protection and quality at Westminster
Council, said the local ACPC had had an independent chairperson for
the past three years, which had “led to an atmosphere of greater
equity and goodwill”.

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