Health ‘keeps losing invitation’ to be part of joined-up children’s services

    The chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection has warned
    that health is failing to engage in the new children’s services
    agenda and called for the publication of the National Service
    Framework for Children to be made a priority.

    Denise Platt told a conference on the Children Bill that
    professionals needed to work on how the bill could accommodate the
    requirements of the NSF from the outset rather than it being a
    “bolt-on piece of policy”.

    She said: “Lots of good joined-up work is probably going on behind
    the scenes across government departments but the health service
    needs to see the framework to ensure proper integrated
    implementation from the start.”

    She added that, although the bill placed new duties on
    organisations involved in safeguarding children, health bodies
    needed to look at how they would fulfil their role.

    “The primary care trust national development team has tried to
    assist PCTs in thinking through these responsibilities,” Platt
    said. “Each PCT should have a children’s champion – but it does
    seem as if a critical partner in the agenda keeps losing the
    invitation to join in.”

    She went on to question how foundation schools and specialist
    schools – outlined in the government’s five-year education strategy
    – would “sit” with three new policies:the development of a coherent
    strategy for children, the duty on councils to promote the
    education of looked-after children, and the development of extended
    schools.

    Platt revealed that the soon-to-be-published spring 2004 delivery
    and improvement statements from local authorities would show that
    engagement in education, training or employment of young care
    leavers had improved, but the educational attainments of
    looked-after children had fallen well short of national targets.

    And there had been little progress in reducing the number of final
    warnings and convictions of looked-after children.

    Child protection services showed general levels of improvement and
    there was “good progress” towards all child protection cases having
    an allocated social worker, she said.

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