Children’s Fund a ‘lost opportunity’

A £960m initiative to improve services for children and families at risk of social exclusion has failed to put long-term strategies in place, according to a government-backed evaluation.

The Children’s Fund, which runs until 2008, was described as a “lost opportunity to build a more sustainable strategy for prevention” by the study published last week by the Department for Education and Skills.

It found agencies in some areas worked in isolation from local authorities and other services “with the consequent risk that learning could be lost”. The active involvement of NHS partners was “extremely variable”, it added.

The evaluation also found that agencies funded by the initiative, which began in 2000, had paid “little attention” to changing mainstream services to make them work more inclusively.
The involvement of children and parents in the planning, delivery and evaluation of Children’s Fund services was “limited”.

But the report also said the fund had “filled an important gap” in provision for children not covered by Sure Start or Connexions.

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