Children Bill published

The long-awaited Children Bill setting out reforms to
children’s services was announced by education secretary
Charles Clarke, writes Clare Jerrom.

As expected, the bill paves the way for the appointment of
directors of children’s services, who will be accountable for
all children’s social services and local authority education.
Lead council members for children’s services at local
authority level will also be introduced.

A new children’s commissioner for England will be created
through the legislation to bring England in line with the rest of
the UK. The post-holder will draw on children’s views and
ensure they are fed into policy making and service delivery. They
will also advise government and, at the direction of the secretary
of state, investigate individual cases that have a wider relevance
for children.

Clarke said the commissioner would be independent of government,
but report annually to parliament via the secretary of state.

“The Bill is the most far reaching reform of
children’s services for 30 years ensuring those improving
children’s services is given top priority at all
levels,” Clarke said.

Partnership working and greater accountability will be
encouraged through other measures including:-

  • enabling local authorities, primary care trusts and others to
    pool budgets into a children’s trust and share information
  • placing a tighter focus on child protection through a duty on
    key agencies to safeguard children and promote their welfare
    through Local Safeguarding Children Boards and a power to set up a
    database containing information about children
  • placing a duty on agencies to co-operate among themselves to
    improve the wellbeing of children
  • creating an integrated inspection framework to assess how well
    children’s services work together
  • enabling more joined up working on the ground, with health,
    education and social care professionals working together based in
    the same location such as in schools or children’s centres

The Children Bill follows publication of the children’s
green paper  Every Child Matters last September, which in turn
addressed many of the issues raised by Lord Laming’s report
in January 2003 into the death of Victoria Climbie three years

The government’s response to the Youth Justice – the
Next Steps consultation, which was published alongside the green
paper, was also published today.

Home Office minister Paul Goggins said the consultation showed
“particularly strong support” for ensuring families
were more involved in efforts to stop young people

Respondents also wanted to see a greater role for the Intensive
Supervision and Surveillance Programme, a robust community penalty
used as an alternative to custody.

Further updates on the Children Bill will be posted on this
website throughout the day.

For background information on the Children Bill click

The Bill is available at

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