Flexibility is key to Children’s Bill

The Children’s Bill due to be published this week is
expected to introduce greater flexibility than originally planned
around the role of children’s services directors and the
shape of children’s trusts.

Children’s minister Margaret Hodge is also expected to
announce that both measures will be introduced more slowly than the
previously proposed April 2006 deadline. Significantly, the term
children’s trust will be downplayed after many councils
expressed doubts over the suitability of the model.

Andrew Cozens, president of the Association of Directors of
Social Services, said he was “delighted” that the government had
taken account of the association’s concerns. The ADSS had
criticised plans for children’s directors to have
responsibility for education and children’s social services
as too prescriptive.

Last month, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives also
warned that few individuals would be willing to take the job as
director of children’s services.

As Community Care went to press Hodge was set to
outline plans for health services to have greater responsibility in
shaping children’s lives. Last week, chairperson of the
Commission for Social Care Inspection Denise Platt said health was
an “important omission” which the government should rectify.

A children’s commissioner who has to report to parliament
is also expected to be created in the bill, but with fewer powers
than his or her Scottish and Welsh counterparts.

Homelessness charity Shelter stressed last week the importance
of extending any information-sharing measures developed in the bill
to cover local authorities’ homelessness functions so other
agencies are aware of those children who are living in temporary

A coalition of social care organisations has launched a guidance
document to help professionals interpret proposals in the bill.

– Vision to Reality at www.lga.gov.uk

Measures set for children’s bill

  • The establishment of local safeguarding children boards on a
    statutory basis to replace area child protection committees.
  • The creation of a children’s commissioner for
  • The provision for councils to appoint a lead member for
  • Duty on councils to promote educational achievements of
    children in care.
  • The removal of barriers to information sharing between
  • The creation of an integrated inspection framework for
    children’s services.
  • New duties for local bodies, such as the police and health
    organisations, to safeguard children.

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