A chance for children

The Children’s Bill, expected to be published this week, will make
the most significant impact on services since the Children Act
1989. Among its main provisions are likely to be a children’s
commissioner, safeguarding children boards and directors of
children’s services although the groundswell of opposition to the
one-size-fits-all approach may mean concessions on the last
measure. The likely relaxation of the timetable for introducing
children’s trusts is also welcome, but it would be a grave mistake
if the bill were to understate the role of the health service.

Though some primary care trusts are working towards a service which
promotes the well-being of children, not all have made it a
priority. For this reason, it would be misguided to leave their
involvement in local service commissioning and provision to the
vagaries of voluntary partnerships under the Health Act 1999. It is
to be hoped that the Children’s Bill compels the health service to
take an active part in the new generation of integrated services
promised in the green paper Every Child Matters.

Much hinges on the publication of this bill. It may be more
prescriptive than many of its critics would like, but the opposite
and in many ways worse error would be for the bill to pull its
punches where they counted most.

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