CHILDREN AT RISK CROSS-CUTTING REVIEW
On 25 June 2001, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Smith, announced seven initial cross-cutting reviews that will contribute to the Spending Review 2002 including a review into services for ‘Children at Risk’
With the vast majority of children and young people looking forward to being better educated, wealthier, physically healthier and living longer than their parents it is still a matter of concern that a minority face a combination of problems which result in persistently poor outcomes in terms of educational achievement, health and criminal activity.
Children at Risk do not form a self contained, defined group. Many children and young people can be vulnerable to risk factors at some point in their development which, without the support of preventative and effective services, can lead to crisis and in some cases lasting effects which perpetuate the cycle of deprivation and poverty. As well as the human cost the long term costs to society can be enormous.
To demonstrate the Government’s commitment to eradicating child poverty and tackling social exclusion this review will seek to establish key targets for children’s services, identify obstacles to meeting those targets and test departmental baselines against those findings.
The review will make recommendations, which will seek to minimise those risks faced by some children so that all can benefit from new opportunities and increased prosperity
The full terms of reference are:
i) to establish the key outcome targets for children’s services;
ii) to identify the main obstacles to meeting those targets (in various age ranges, notably 8-14s at risk of offending) and the programmes from across Government departments that can best overcome those obstacles, in part through mapping the existing pattern of services, the balance between prevention services and crisis intervention and their effectiveness;
iii) to test departmental baselines against those findings; and
iv) to make recommendations, including the rationalisation of existing funding streams and planning mechanisms and the mainstreaming of good practice for area and/or time limited programmes.
With such a wide scope for the review, the work has been split into five main working groups:
Health and well-being. The focus of the work should be on prevention. In particular the group should examine what the barriers are to achieving good health and emotional well being for children and their families, the effectiveness of service interventions in tackling these, and the scope for enhancing multi-agency working to improve support. We might look in particular at the ways in which services promote the emotional well-being of children and enhance their individual resilience and confidence in taking decisions about their lives. The extent to which children at risk miss out on standard health education and promotion, the response to concerns from children over bullying and victimisation and the support from agencies to a child who has been excluded from school are also relevant. Preventive approaches towards children who are most vulnerable to drug and alcohol misuse and other social morbidities should be addressed.
Achievement, enjoyment and participation. The work of this group will contribute to the development of the outcomes for educational attainment, employability and social participation. To do this effectively it must examine whether in regeneration there is sufficient focus on the opportunities for co-ordinated services provided from schools. Can better co-ordinated services from schools, or for a younger age group from neighbourhood nurseries for example, secure wider outcomes for children and communities? Are community facilities being effectively opened up? How much should support for play activities feature in local services for children? Are regeneration strategies and funding streams sufficiently promote the provision of activities such as arts, sports and wider community engagement?
Protection and responsibility. This group will concentrate on reducing the involvement of children and young people in crime and supporting children and young people as the victims of crime. Parental and sibling involvement in crime and inadequate parental supervision and support are among the strongest risk factors of future criminal behaviour. Is the best use made of best practice and the current range of family interventions to prevent criminal behaviour amongst young people? Is the evidence of parental neglect and family violence on the outcomes for children being picked up in the development of services? What opportunities for children to take responsibility in family and community life can enhance individual resilience and self-motivation and thereby protect against the negative effects of the risk factors?
Identification, referral and tracking. What more should be done to ensure effective inter-agency co-operation, especially at key transition points in children’s development? And is there effective interconnection of programmes and services at these transition points? The barriers to data sharing will be a key issue for the group.
Planning. Many of the more far reaching and ambitious proposals to improve services will depend on the effective rationalization of planning for children’s services behind an outcome-based approach.
The government are keen for organisations, communities, professionals and individuals, especially children and young people to contribute to this review. You can send your submission or comments to cypu@email@example.com