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
    Taylor
    .

    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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