Children Bill to reform services

The Children Bill was published earlier this month along with a
series of documents outlining the future of children’s
services in England. The origins of the bill lie in the
government’s Every Child Matters green paper that was a
response to the Victoria Climbié inquiry. Parts of the
legislation will also influence developments in Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland.   

Key parts include: 

 • A children’s commissioner to be appointed by the
education secretary early next year. The commissioner will act as
the independent advocate for children and advise the education
secretary on children’s matters. England is the last of the
four UK countries to have a commissioner.

• A file will be created for every child in the country to
improve information sharing between professionals. Lack of
co-operation between agencies and failure to share information has
emerged in a number of cases involving the murder or abuse of

• Every council will appoint a director of children’s
services to ensure greater accountability of services.

• Local government management boards will be set up. These
will be statutory bodies and will replace area child protection
committees, which are of uneven quality.

• Children’s trusts will be encouraged to be set up.
They will emerge out of children’s and education departments
and aim to combine budgets and working. However, in the green paper
it had been proposed that every council would set up a trust. Some
in the sector has welcomed the concession that councils will only
be “encouraged”.

• A workforce unit has already been set up at the Department
for Education and Skills to draw up plans for workforce and pay.
The first part of the plan is to be completed next month.

The main reforms will be implemented before the next election.

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