highlightno. 220Children Act 2004Background•physical and mental health of childrenIn September 2003, the government published Every Child Matters1, its Green•protection of children from harm and neglectPaper proposals for the future of children’s services (see Highlight no.204). Every•education, training and recreationChild Matters proposes whole system changes to the way in which children’s•contribution made by children to societyservices are planned, commissioned and delivered, with a renewed emphasis onprevention and early intervention. Children’s services are to be measured within•the social and economic well-being of children. a framework of five key outcomes for children and young people, described in theAlthough ‘child’ generally refers to the Children Act 1989 definition of ‘a persongreen paper as: being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making aunder the age of 18’, s.9 stipulates that the Commissioner’s responsibilities alsopositive contribution, and achieving economic well-being. apply to young people leaving care, and those with a learning disability up to theKeeping Children Safe,2 the government’s response to the Victoria Climbiéage of 21. In addition, the Commissioner has a particular responsibility toInquiry3 chaired by Lord Laming, was also published. While asserting that theascertain the views of hard-to-reach groups of children. The Commissioner mustexisting legislative framework for safeguarding children contained in the Childrenhave regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Act 1989 was sound, the government noted serious flaws in the implementationThe Commissioner may not conduct an investigation on behalf of an individualof the law, many of which could be improved through the development of newchild, but may either initiate s.3 or be directed to initiate an inquiry s.4 into casesshared statutory duties, joint guidance and better practice. Specific actions wouldthat have a wider public policy implication. Relationships with the Children’saddress inadequacies in terms of governance and accountability in local children’sCommissioners for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are less clear, and inservices, the sharing of information on individual children both within and acrossmany cases are to be negotiated between the Commissioners themselves. In law,agencies, and responsibility for being aware of and protecting children living inthis post is responsible for representing the views and interests of children in non-private foster care arrangements. devolved matters. (See Highlight no.217 on Children's commissioners in theA third volume, A Better Education for Children in Care, a review from theUnited Kingdom.)Social Exclusion Unit on the education of looked after children,4 accompanied theGreen Paper. Although significant improvements have been made in recent yearsChildren’s services(for example, 56 per cent of care leavers achieved at least one GCSE in 2003/4compared with 34 per cent in 1999/2000), their results still lag behind those ofSections 10 (England) and 25 (Wales) place a duty on the children’s servicesthe general child population (96 per cent of all school children achieved at leastauthority to make arrangements to promote cooperation between itself and a listone GCSE in 2003/4).5of partner agencies that are themselves under a duty to cooperate with the localauthority – all in order to improve the well-being of children as measured againstThe Children Bill was published in March 2004 alongside Every Child Matters:the five outcomes for children. Next steps,6 an overview of responses to the original consultation paper withmore detailed information about government plans for taking forward itsA children’s services authority comprises local authority education and children’sproposals. Although the Every Child Matters programme covers England only,social services, as well as other local government services that have an impact onmany of the measures in the Children Bill extend to Wales. The Bill receivedchildren like housing or leisure. The relevant partners are: district councils; theRoyal Assent on 15 November 2004, to become the Children Act 2004.7police authority and chief officer of police; local probation board; youthoffending team; Strategic Health Authority and Primary Care Trust in England,or Local Health Board and NHS Trust in Wales; the Connexions Service, and theChildren Act 2004Learning and Skills Council for England; or the National Council for EducationThe Act comprises six parts and five schedules as follows:and Training in Wales. 1.Children’s Commissioner (with Schedule 1)‘Others’ like voluntary and community organisations may be included aspartners. The children’s services authority and its partners may establish and2.Children’s services in England includes local authority structuralmaintain a pooled fund and/or pooled resources (defined as staff, goods, services,changes, local safeguarding children boards, information sharing, andaccommodation or other resources). joint inspections (Schedule 2 deals with the Director of Children’sServices) Joint guidance for England8 makes it clear that the ‘duty to cooperate’ is the basisfor a children’s trust approach to partnership working. The essential features of3.Children’s services in Walesthe children’s trust are: 4.Advisory and support services for family proceedings (Wales) (with•a child-centred, outcome-led vision that is informed by the views ofSchedule 3)children and young people5.Miscellaneous (Schedule 4 includes amendments for child minding and•integrated front line delivery which includes reference to co-located staffday care)in extended schools or children’s centres6.General (Schedule 5 provides the list of repeals)•integrated processes like the use of the Common Assessment Frameworkor information sharing arrangementsThe Children’s Commissioner•joint planning and commissioning of children’s servicesPart 1 of the Act establishes the office of the Children’s Commissioner for•inter-agency governance with the local authority taking the lead. England, which is independent from government (a ‘corporation sole’), and hasThe responsibilities extend to young people leaving care or those with learningpowers to cooperate with other public authorities in the United Kingdom. difficulties up to the age of 25 who are receiving certain services.The Commissioner’s general function is defined as ‘promoting awareness of theUnder s.17, children’s services authorities in England must prepare and publishviews and interests of children in England’, in particular as they relate to fivean overarching Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP) to cover all local‘aspects of their well-being’. Though differently worded, they mirror the fivechildren’s services, and to replace a number of existing early years, childoutcomes for children in Every Child Matters. In law, they are:protection, teenage pregnancy, youth service and education plans. Guidance tothe CYPP9 stipulates that the plan must include agreed targets and priorities forall services that will affect children and young people in the local area; andidentify the actions and activities needed to achieve these targets and ensurehighlightno. 220 Highlight No. 220 © National Children’s Bureau 2005. ISSN: 1365-9081. Highlights may be reproduced by NCBmembers for non-commercial circulation within their own organisation, subject to acknowledgement of source.Contact the Library for further information. National Children’s Bureau, 8 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7QE. Tel: 020 7843 6000. Fax: 020 7278 9512. www.ncb.org.uk service delivery. Sections 18 and 19 introduce a requirement for children’s servicesOther measuresauthorities to appoint a Director of Children’s Services (DCS) and a LeadSections 44 to 47 strengthen current arrangements for private foster careMember with responsibility for children’s services in order to provide,contained in the Children Act 1989, and new regulations, guidance and nationalrespectively, a professional and political focus for children’s services.10 The DCSminimum standards came into force on 30 November 2005. If the governmentis also responsible for the successful working of the local partnership under s.10.feels that these powers are not being used, it may choose to implement s.45 andMost local authorities should have their children’s trust arrangements in place46 of the Act, which give the Secretary of State or Welsh Assembly Governmentand a DCS in post by 2006, and all by 2008.the power to set up a private foster care registration scheme through regulations.The Welsh Assembly Government plans to use the Act to give existing ChildrenThis power will cease to have effect if not used by November 2008. Section 49and Young People’s Frameworks and Children’s Partnerships statutory force, andintroduces a power for either the Secretary of State in England or Welsh Assemblyunder s.26 to produce Children and Young People Framework Strategies. Theseto issue an order relating to the level of payments for foster carers. will set out headline objectives and targets for those providing children’s servicesThe new duty on local authorities to promote the educational achievement ofin a local area. Wales will not be introducing children’s trusts, but under s.27 eachlooked after children appears in s.52 of the Act. Section 53 amends s.17 (childrenlocal authority will be asked to designate both a lead director of, and leadin need), 21 (provision of accommodation for children) and 47 (child protectionmember for, children and young people’s services. In the health service, NHSinvestigations) of the Children Act 1989 to require the local authority to ascertainTrusts and Local Health Boards will be asked to designate lead directors, officersand consider a child’s wishes and feelings regarding any services it may beand members. Draft guidance on the local partnerships11 and planproviding.rationalisation12 have been published for consultation.Section 58, in force from 15 January 2005, removes the defence of reasonablechastisement of children in cases leading to visible and provable injury [battery].Safeguarding children and young peopleHowever, common assault committed by a parent or person with parentalSections 11 (England) and 28 (Wales) place a general duty to safeguard andauthority may still be regarded in law as reasonable punishment. promote the welfare of children on the children’s services authority; districtChild safety orders (CSOs) were introduced in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998,council; Strategic Health Authority, Special Health Authority, Primary Careand can be used for children who are under ten years old, the age of criminalTrust, NHS Trust and NHS foundation trust in England or Local Health Boardresponsibility. Section 60 of the Children Act 2004 amends the original legislationand NHS trust in Wales; police authority and Chief officer of police; Britishto ensure that the power to make a care order on breach of the CSO meets theTransport Police; local probation board; youth offending team; governor of asame threshold criteria as under the Children Act 1989. It also extends theprison or secure training centre including those contracted out to the privatemaximum duration of the CSO from three to 12 months.sector; and Connexions staff in England or youth support services in Wales.Lisa PayneStatutory guidance for England13 came into force on 1 October 2005. National Children’s BureauOctober 2005Under s.13 (England) and 31 (Wales), each children’s services authority mustestablish a Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) with the same list ofpartner agencies and any other relevant bodies. In England only, there must alsoReferencesbe representation from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support1. HM Treasury (2003) Every Child Matters. (Cm 5860). London: TSO.Service. LSCBs replace the current non-statutory Area Child Protection2. Department of Health (2003) Keeping Children Safe: The government’sCommittees, and in England must be in place in all local authority areas by 1response to the Victoria Climbié Inquiry report and Joint Chief Inspectors’April 2006. Guidance for LSCBs will be available in an updated Workingreport Safeguarding Children. (Cm 5861). London: TSO.Together to Safeguard Children14,15 and associated regulations. 3. Department of Health and Home Office (2003) The Victoria Climbié Inquiry:Report of an inquiry by Lord Laming. (Cm 5730). London: TSO.Information sharing 4. Social Exclusion Unit (2003) A Better Education for Children in Care.London: Social Exclusion Unit.Sections 12 (England) and 29 (Wales) require children’s services authorities to set5. Department for Education and Skills (2005) Statistics of Education: Outcomeup and operate information sharing databases or an electronic child index.indicators for looked after children, twelve months to 30 September 2004,Sections 12(4) and 29(4) list the information that may be included in the basicEngland. London: DfES.record that will be kept on every child: the child’s name, address, gender and date6. Department for Education and Skills (2004) Every Child Matters: Next steps.of birth; a unique identifying number; name and contact details of any personLondon: DfES.with parental responsibility or day-to-day care; details of educational7. Children Act 2004. London: TSO.establishment (or early years provider if relevant); details of primary health8. Department for Education and Skills (2005) Statutory Guidance on Inter-provider (health visitor or GP); name and contact details of anyone providingagency Co-operation to Improve the Wellbeing of Children: Children’s trusts.services to the child; and information on any ‘cause for concern’ (the threshold ofLondon: DfES.which is undefined). Records cannot include medical or personal records.9. Department for Education and Skills (2005) Guidance on the Children andInformation sharing pilots involving 15 local authorities grouped into 11Young People’s Plan. London: DfES.Trailblazer areas have been running since 2002/3. Draft cross-government10. Department for Education and Skills (2005) Statutory Guidance on the Roleguidance on the sharing of information is out for consultation,16 and theand Responsibilities of the Director of Children’s Services and the Leadgovernment is due to announce a timetable for implementation of the indexes inMember for Children’s Services. London: DfES.England in Winter 2005. The Welsh Assembly has yet to consult on the new11. Welsh Assembly Government (2005) Children and Young People: Rights toinformation sharing databases.action – stronger partnerships for better outcomes. Draft guidance on localcooperation under the Children Act 2004. Cardiff: WAG.12. Welsh Assembly Government (2005) Local Government PlanJoint inspections of children’s servicesRationalisation. Cardiff: WAG.Section 20 establishes a new inspection system for Joint Area Reviews in England.13. Department for Education and Skills (2005) Statutory Guidance on MakingUnder s.21, a framework for the inspection of children’s services has been issuedArrangements to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children Underby Ofsted.17Section 11 of the Children Act 2004. London: DfES.14. HM Government (2005) Working Together to Safeguard Children: A guideEvery children’s services authority undergoes an Annual Performance Assessmentto inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children,(APA), carried out by Ofsted and the Commission for Social Care Inspectionand Department for Education and Skills (2005) Children and Young(CSCI), which are due to be merged by 2008. That inspection exercise is used toPersons: The local safeguarding children boards regulations. London: DfES. analyse available evidence and help highlight priority areas that need to be15. Welsh Assembly Government (2005) Safeguarding Children Together:scrutinised as part of the new three-yearly Joint Area Review (JAR). FromSafeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in Wales – guidance toSeptember 2005, JARs will subsume or replace current inspections by Ofsted andLocal Safeguarding Children Boards in Wales. Cardiff: WAG.CSCI of council education and children’s social services, as well as inspections of16. Department for Education and Skills (2005) Cross-government Guidance:Connexions, 14 to 19 training and Children’s Fund programmes. Sharing information on children and young people consultation. London:DfES.17. Office for Standards in Education and others (2005) Every Child Matters:Framework for the inspection of children’s services. London: Ofsted.