Hodge dodges online answers.

Hopes that children’s minister Margaret Hodge would shed light
on the future of services for children and families at risk of
social exclusion were dwindling this week.

The public was given the opportunity to quiz Hodge on prevention
and protection services and strategies in a week-long online
conference launched on 17 June

But, as Community Care went to press five days after the conference
opened, most of those who had asked the minister questions were
still waiting for an answer.

Hodge managed to answer just 10 out of 45 questions during her
brief online appearance. For the majority of the remaining
questions, Hodge said she “hopes to be able to provide a response”
by 24 June.

Many unanswered questions centre on the issue of special
educational needs, including the lack of educational provision for
children with autistic spectrum disorders who fit into neither
mainstream nor special school settings.

Hodge was also asked why there was inconsistency across local
education authorities in the provision of services for children
with special educational needs.

In one of her few answers, Hodge confirmed that the final
allocations for partnerships from the £110m Children’s Fund
budget for 2005-6 would be confirmed in August.

She added that guidance on the “mainstreaming of the [Children’s]
Fund to children’s trusts” would also be published in August, and
said she would aim to give partnerships “as long a planning horizon
as possible”. 

Understanding Prevention: Children, Families and Social
Inclusion online
Conference at www.ne-cf.org.uk/conferences/

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