0-19: Do the politicians care?

A growing number of practitioners are working in multi-disciplinary
teams – in youth justice, children’s mental health, and early years
services, among others These staff are the real trailblazers in
developing an integrated response to children’s needs. Yet as Leeds
University researchers have found (page 29), they have been left to
cope unaided with the many complex and unforeseen challenges thrown
up by working alongside others with different training, jargon,
priorities, world views and working traditions.

When Morrisons supermarket chain took over Safeway, the company
drew up an eight point strategy for integrating the cultures and
practices of the two companies, involving a massive and carefully
planned root and branch staff training programme. In April the
Children’s Workforce Development Council is due to go live, and
among its many jobs is to ensure “a common culture which crosses
the boundaries of different professions”. Supporting children and
their families is obviously not the same as selling baked beans,
but creating a common culture from not just two but many different
agencies and professional groups, must be at least as big and
complex a job as merging two supermarket chains. An important
question for everyone in children’s services is whether the
government has truly recognised the scale of the task ahead, and
whether it cares enough about its own policy to follow it

The signs are not good. Ruth Kelly, education secretary for two
months, has not yet mentioned in a public speech the Children Act
2004, or Every Child Matters – let alone integrating the children’s
workforce. Of course there is an election coming up, and we could
have expected her to stick to vote-winning issues. But will the
process of bringing professionals together for children’s sake ever
be important enough to politicians to attract the investment needed
to make it happen on the ground.


Rickford, editor


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