Reforms may see Connexions’ demise

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

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

    He said there was also a danger that by virtue of the name
    “children’s trust”, less attention could be paid to teenagers’
    needs.

    l Children’s minister Margaret Hodge told the same conference she
    hoped the voluntary and community sector would be placed on an
    equal footing with local authorities in developing services.

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

    “Councils 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 suggestions that the voluntary sector
    could take control of failing children’s trusts.

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