Charities call for ‘firm commitments’

Charities have raised concerns over the lack of clarity about the
voluntary sector’s role in children’s services in the Children

Head of policy at NCH, Caroline Abrahams, said voluntary
organisations were not explicitly mentioned in the bill – although
they were in its accompanying document, Every Child Matters:
Next Steps

She said that, although some local authorities worked well with the
voluntary sector, others did not and guidance to help this
relationship would have to be stronger.

Abrahams added that the government would need to spell out some
“firm commitments” to the sector otherwise it would appear that its
remarks about the importance of voluntary organisations would be no
more than “nice words that do not make a difference”.

Chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau Paul Ennals said
he shared Abraham’s concerns.

Meanwhile, the Association of Directors of Social Services
predicted that children’s trusts were likely to develop around four
models, thanks to greater flexibility about their shape.

Children’s trusts were left out of the bill, but will be encouraged
through new duties of co-operation and the ability to pool budgets.

Children’s minister Margaret Hodge is adamant that every area
should have a children’s trust by 2008, although the Next Steps
document makes it clear that this will not necessarily require
structural change or staff transfers.

As to the directors of children’s services, ADSS president Andrew
Cozens said that there might be some councils who chose to keep
separate director of education and social services posts beneath
the new role, but that it was likely many would have joint teams in
the long term.

The Children Bill leaves decisions on organisational structures and
line management responsibilities to support the children’s director
post down to local discretion.

– Children Bill from

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