Kent splits children’s services from education

Children's services and education are to be separated in a proposed reorganisation of departments at Kent Council.

Children’s services and education are to be separated in a proposed reorganisation of departments at Kent Council.

The proposal will see the number of key departments cut from eight to five.

Children’s social services will become the responsibility of a new families, health and social care directorate while education will be covered by the education, learning and skills directorate.

The council said statutory guidance on the role of the director of children’s services (DCS) does not insist on a direct reporting relationship with education.

So the post will be part of the families, health and social care directorate, with a protocol produced to ensure the accountability of the DCS is maintained and unfettered by a different reporting line arrangement.

It is unclear whether children’s services budgets will help fund adult care. But the plans do refer to the “potential to draw together” the safeguarding work for adults and children.

The council plans say: “Whilst adults’ and children’s safeguarding practice have a different legal basis, there are many similarities within the culture, approach and core workload of these different teams.”

The proposed changes have been prompted by an unprecedented level and pace of change, said council papers on the reorganisation.

Kent expects its net revenue budget to be reduced by £340m over the next four years in the forthcoming spending review. The shake-up will involve a cut in the number of senior managers which will help to address the financial constraints.

The council is also faced with a doubling in the number of over-85s in the next 18 years. There will also be a 12% increase in the population of four- to 10-year-olds over the next nine years, after which the numbers remain constant.

The five new directorates proposed by the council are:

● Education, learning and skills (including school standards, school transport and admissions)

● Families, health and social care (including all social services)

● Enterprise (responsible for highways, regeneration, planning and the environment)

● Customer and communities

● Business support and strategy

Consultation on the changes and management redundancies is under way. A final decision will be made in December.

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