The new president of the Association of the Directors of Children’s Services has pledged to prioritise reducing child poverty.
Maggie Atkinson, director of children’s services at Gateshead Council, said in her inaugural speech that poverty affected families and communities in England as a whole, including those “who can do least about it – children and young people”.
Outlining the association’s priorities for the year ahead, she said the ADCS would make “real contributions” towards the government’s target, announced in 1999, to halve child poverty by 2010.
Atkinson added that “more complex thinking” was required to reach the tougher target of eliminating child poverty by 2020.
She said she looked forward to implementing the Children’s Plan, and would continue to contribute to the consultation launched this month on the development of children’s trusts.
Accompanied by three teenagers from Gateshead Youth Assembly, a group giving young people in the area a voice, the former teacher said: “Our focus will remain, untiringly, the children and young people, their life chances, their future as tomorrow’s adults.”
Last week, the Department for Children, Schools and Families appointed Atkinson as chair of an expert group set up to examine ways of implementing the new children’s workforce strategy.
Working alongside unions and professionals from social care, education and the voluntary and community sectors, the group will suggest ways of making teams of mixed specialists work in partnership for the benefit of service users.
She replaces joint presidents John Coughlan and John Freeman to become the first sole president at the ADCS.