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A new model of integrated children's services is being proposed by the key agencies responsible for their provision...
A new model of integrated children's services is being proposed by the key agencies responsible for their provision.

The joint move by the Local Government Association, the NHS Confederation and the Association of Directors of Social Services suggests an alternative to the government's proposed children's trusts.

Central to the 'new vision for young people's services' is avoiding a major restructure of existing provision.

Under the system being proposed by the LGA and its partners, local strategic partnerships would bring together all the agencies involved and work with local children's strategic partnership boards. The creation of children's champions would promote the interests of children and provide scrutiny across all sectors. Multidisciplinary teams would deliver services on the ground.

In this model all the key agencies would maintain their own accountability, but have an enhanced responsibility to ensure the greater integration of services. Children and families would have a greater say in how services are organised.

The group said this model 'promoted the co-ordination of services while avoiding the dangers inherent in structural change'.

John Ransford, LGA director of education and social policy, said: 'What we need is a strategic framework that is child centred first. Within a partnership approach, all sorts of things can be developed in accordance to local need. [The government] appears to be rushing to solutions before it has analysed what the issues are.'

He added: 'We are not opposed to children's trusts, but it's not the answer to everything, everywhere. We don't think the case has been made for structural change. A partnership model where the agencies work together and align their responsibilities in accordance with children's needs is much more likely to succeed.'

Michael Leadbetter, ADSS president, said: 'This report will stimulate the debate we need. Local action to reflect local circumstances is the way we will achieve that.'

The group's proposals will provide a basis for discussion in October to develop a more detailed strategy, and various councils will be asked to pilot the strategy.

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