Children’s service framework ‘needs money, targets and interpretation’

Charities working with children and young people have warned that
although the children’s national service framework contains great
aspirations, it may not be achievable without greater

The charities have raised their concerns because the NSF, published
last week, has no specific ring-fenced money attached to it and
there are no specific year-by-year targets to measure progress in
England (news, page 6, 16 September).

Barnardo’s principal policy officer Neera Sharma said: “What we are
concerned about is that the government puts in place the resources
so these standards and targets can be met. One of the problems with
disability services is that the extra money is not earmarked; not
enough money is earmarked for play schemes, for example.

“Geographical variation needs to be addressed. It is more about
government centrally taking that leadership role and evening out
geographical inequalities.”

A delivery strategy for the NSF will be published in the autumn,
which will give examples of good practice. However, the government
has made absolutely clear that it will be up to local bodies to
determine how the standards are delivered.

Health spokesperson for children’s charity NCH Barbara Peacock
said: “We hope it will lay out a very clear programme for what will
be delivered on the ground. The standards are very ambitious and
very broad and open to wide interpretation. How would you as an
inspector interpret what is in these standards? One of the things
that would be really helpful in terms of the delivery strategy is
something that will allow inspectors to measure the

Community care minister Stephen Ladyman said the Healthcare
Commission would check local trusts were “on target to complete the
whole plan in 10 years”, but made clear the money had to come out
of general resources. “By 2008, we believe there will be adequate
money in the system,” he said.

Children’s minister Margaret Hodge said that progress towards the
NSF standards would be included in the star ratings system,
explaining that organisations would be increasingly assessed on
“how they are developing high quality standards, including NSFs”.

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