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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