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
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.