Fears over market approach to children’s services

    Plans to create a more “market” orientated
    children’s sector could reduce the cost of services but cause
    problems for clients, Andrew Christie, director of Hammersmith and
    Fulham’s children’s trust, has warned,
    writes Derren Hayes. 

    Christie welcomed government plans for promoting
    “contestability” in the commissioning of
    children’s services because it would encourage more
    voluntary, community and private sector organisations to become
    providers.

    However, he said there were parallels with the opening up of the
    residential and nursing homes sectors, when an oversupply of
    independent providers “caused pain and grief” for
    service users whose homes closed. “The same thing could
    happen for children and young people’s services,” he
    warned.

    The plans were unveiled in a Department for Education and Skills
    letter to directors of social services and council and primary care
    trust chief executives earlier this month. It asked them to assess
    the current and potential market for children’s services and
    what the barriers were for increasing the range of providers,
    especially in integrated services.

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