Connexions could be a victim of children’s service reform

Connexions partnerships could be phased out under
children’s services reforms, a leading figure in the
voluntary sector has warned, writes Amy

Kevin Williams, chief executive of YMCA England, told a conference
on children’s services in London that the government appeared
to want to make children’s trusts “the pre-eminent
body” for 13 to 19 year olds, despite setting up Connexions
four years ago to make decisions for the same age group.

Williams added that there was a danger that the name
children’s trust could also result in them placing a greater
focus on the lower end of the 0-19 age spectrum covered, with less
attention being paid to teenagers’ needs.

Speaking at the same conference, children’s minister Margaret
Hodge said she hoped the voluntary and community sector would be
placed on an equal footing with local authorities in developing the
new agenda for children’s services.

Hodge said that, although local authorities had been put in the
“driving seat”, the government was consulting with the
voluntary and community sectors on how to strengthen their role,
and would use the regulatory framework to help persuade councils to
give the voluntary sector an equal say in the reforms.

“The local authorities care about their Comprehensive
Performance Assessment,” she said. “But we can’t
force it. This is a bottom-up set of reforms.”

Her comments follow earlier suggestions that the voluntary sector
could be used to boost child protection social worker numbers and
to take over control of failing children’s trusts.

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