Every Child Matters: Integrated Services

The impact of the tortuous death of Victoria Climbié, that exposed a chronic lack of accountability and poor integration of supportive services, has had a wide corrective impact on government policy in a thoroughgoing manner.

In giving children who need support a sense of independence, it therefore needs to take place with institutional interdependence, and increasing accountability. It needs co-ordination.
Following the Green paper of 2003, the publication of Every Child Matters: the Next Steps in 2004 (see DfES, 2006), and the Children Act of 2004, and using the Children's Commissioner for England, first appointed in 2005, as the first lead point of co-ordination, the government is co-ordinating strategy and policy carried out by itself and its agencies to produce an integrated approach including across agencies and the various public services so that children both receive minimum rights and can achieve to potential.

Example agencies and services are:

  • Government departments
  • Local authorities
  • Schools (of all kinds)
  • Hospitals
  • Police
  • Charities
  • Institutions combining some of these functions: like education, care and employment help

These naturally connect with families of all kinds having children, and the family as an institution is a key element in child welfare and outcomes.

Key intentions (being called mutually reinforcing universal ambitions):

  • Good health
  • Safety
  • Enjoyment with achievement
  • Economic well-being
  • Contribute to society

They provide at a minimum an anti-poverty strategy but are much more holistically understood and with an emphasis on the positive. It also reaches to one year above majority (as is the case in school provision and some legal aspects of teacher responsibility).
Under the five objectives are more programmatic detail. Every Child Matters: Change for Children involves a national framework of ten key elements to achieve the five outcomes.

  • Duty to promote the well-being of children and young people
  • Duty to safeguard and promote their welfare
  • Statutory local safeguarding children boards (replaces non-statutory area child protection committees)
  • Local directors of children services
  • National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services
  • Outcomes Framework
  • Integrated inspection framework
  • Children's Commissioner
  • Common Assessment Framework
  • Build workforce skills and proper staffing levels
Another key aspect running through the whole approach is:

  • Consultation of the young themselves

Therefore in becoming co-ordinated and child-centred, involving young people themselves is important. It is about best practice for children, and for this they need to be asked.
It might be easier to involve articulate children in what they need for a fulfilling life, but the Commissioner is to put extra effort into finding and employing the views of the most vulnerable children and young people, and get them involved in those services where decisions are taken about them. This is helped in part financially by the Children's Fund (from 2000) with its focus on tackling social exclusion as it affects the young.
The centre of government will use a Common Assessment Framework for outcomes, whereas there will be local variation according to services and provisions.
A means to co-ordinate are:

  • Children's trusts

They get involved with other services and help develop connections between them so that children's lives can be improved.

These children's trusts, involving their constitutive partners, and developing input from children themselves, organise in a hands-on manner:

  • The duty of all institutional services dealing with children to co-operate with each other for positive outcomes.
  • The need is for better integration and response

Therefore any employee, even in an institution that itself, for example, integrates care, education and employment services, cannot be isolated, even if the mission is to make one institution first choice. Inevitably co-operation must replace competition.

Integration means:

  • A well led multi-disciplinary approach
    • to such as professional training
  • Commissioning by the children's trusts
    • to pooling resources and prioritising
    • using agencies best able to do a task to actually be the ones to do it in the knowledge of others
  • Being methodical via:
    • A joint needs assessment
    • Knowing what are the priorities
    • Pulling together the resources
    • Using resources in action

Therefore, as well as no institution being able to "go it alone", institutions must work with other institutions that do the job better, and co-ordinate all the services to children. Practically this may present difficulties, and the first provider is where the children are, but isolation is not an option and the best services are more than an option.
Priorities may be around such areas as:

  • Support for:
    • parents and carers
    • Children in care homes and in foster homes
    • Children with special educational needs
    • Children with disabilities
    • Reducing teenage pregnancy
    • Getting more into either education, employment or training

An important part of this is an outcomes framework looking at aims, targets, indicators and inspection criteria.

Inter-agency governance leads on to integrated strategy to integrated processes to integrated front line delivery to outcomes for young people via parents, families and in the community.
Then there is the central message from children. They want more to do and resources by which to do them. This means:

  • Sport and relevant culture

Naturally this involves more by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and those bodies it oversees (a cross departmental link from Department for Education and Science). Here is identified:

  • Enjoying with achieving
  • Making a positive contribution

It involves especially developing out-of-school activities.
The newness of participation of the young needs professionals learning from the development of best practice. Hear by Right is one means of suggesting and monitoring standards and improvements in involvement.
Another aspect of youth involvement is peer mentoring. There are quality standards for information, advice and guidance (IAG) for young people. Mentoring helps to develop postitive outcomes (as it is a form of peer assessment as practised in education).
Younger children do not speak coherently for themselves. So then the emphasis shifts to parents (including those who are young parents and who in their autonomy have an active sexual relationship and where pregnancy results):

  • Pregnancy
    • Family support
      • Health provision
        • Childcare
          • Early education
Sure Start was already an important means to reduce inequality of opportunity and there is a Ten Year Strategy for Childcare based developed further by the Childcare Act of 2006 with a Childcare Implementation Project and Early Support, especially important for services for disabled children in early years with integrated family support.
A particular concern (after Victoria Climbié) is the most vulnerable. The role of social services is crucial in supporting children in difficulty, but so is information within other trusts and services; a bold measure of outcome is not just intervention and support but closing the gap between their outcomes and those of most children. This is a demanding measure.

Social services must now work in a multi-agency manner in the children's trusts, to develop a children and young people's plan and use a database of relevant information.
The fact is that some young people are involved in crime and disorder, and it is a major issue for many. Multi-disciplinary approaches have been in use for some time. These will now be added to through the children and young people's plans (CYPPs) and local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs), databases and workforce training.
In general, therefore, the intention is:

  • Shared knowledge
  • Best practice
  • Ending pockets of isolation of provision of services:
    • through duties to integrate via the children's trusts
  • Involving the young people themselves
  • Co-ordinating via:
    • Standards
    • National oversight
    • Local provision


Linkage Community Trust (2006), Linkage Community Trust: Specialist Further Education, Residential Care, Supported Employment [Online], Available World Wide Web, URL: http://www.linkage.org.uk/. [Accessed: Tuesday November 14 2006, 16:32]

Department for Education and Science (2006), Every Child Matters: Change for Children; latest date November 8 2006; DfES, [Online], Available World Wide Web, URL: http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/. [Accessed: Monday November 13 2006, 16:02]





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Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful