Monday, 30 November 2009

What is the Children Act?

The Green Paper, Every Child Matters, was published for consultation in September 2003 and outlined a programme of reform setting out a framework of services that cover children and young people from birth to nineteen. The new Children Act 2004 provides the legal framework for this reform. The new legislation was accompanied by the launch of a major strategy document for English authorities, Every Child Matters: Change for Children, which is intended to set the direction for the major programme of change in the the delivery of children’s services.

The Children Act 2004 places a duty on services to ensure that every child, whatever their background or circumstances, to have the support they need to:

be healthy
stay safe
enjoy and achieve through learning
make a postive contribution to society
achieve economic well-being.

What does this mean for Children and Families?
Easier access to information and advice services at a local level
Earlier support for parents experiencing difficulties
Practitioners from Social Services and Education working together in teams
One point of contact for information and assessment
The statutory requirement for a Children & Young People’s Plan will identify priorities across all organisations with a responsibility for children and young people in the whole of Hampshire
Ensure the welfare and safety for children and young people who may be at risk

What does it mean for Hampshire County Council as an organisation?
The Children Act 2004 gives a particular responsibility to Local Authorities in ensuring effective co-operation between local partners such as NHS, Police, Schools, District Councils, Youth Offending Teams and Voluntary Sectors.

There are statutory partners who are required to work alongside the local authority. There are also other partners who do not have a statutory duty to co-operate with us but we will need to engage and encourage them to work with us to deliver the Children Act.

In response to the Children Act we are integrating Education (the Local Education Authority - LEA for Hampshire) and the Children and Families branch of Social Services into a new department called Children's Services. There will also be new Adult Care Services.

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