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CHILDREN'S SERVICES GRANTS ANNOUNCED

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An extra£75 million will go to councils next year to help them provide safe and effective services for children at...
An extra£75 million will go to councils next year to help them provide safe and effective services for children at risk, health secretary Frank Dobson has announced.

A Department of Health circular, published today, says how much extra money each council should receive to strengthen children's services for the year 1999-2000. The money is part of a new special grant of£375 million over three years, which will underpin a recent government initiative - 'Quality Protects' - to improve the safety and quality of services for children at risk or in care.

Mr Dobson said:

'Children have a right to expect the best possible care. But even though social services are doing some good work, many children have been let down. Many have received neither protection nor help. This government is determined to ensure they are safeguarded. Councils must act as true parents to children at risk or in their care.

'Our Quality Protects initiative sets new national standards for children's services, and we will follow up to see they are met. Extra funds will help to bring about much needed improvements. We are today telling local authorities in England what their proposed

share of an extra£75 million will be for next year. And we are going to help councils plan their improvements by promising them an extra£375 million over the next three years.'

Under new objectives set by the Quality Protects initiative, councillors have been given new responsibilities for monitoring the work of children's services, and councils will be expected to:

- reduce the number of times children are moved in care

- ensure children in care get a proper education

- to help children in care beyond the age of 16

NOTES

1. The circular, Children's Social Services Special Grant: Indicative Allocations for 1999-00, is being sent to all councils in England. Local authorities have until 12th January to comment in writing. Copies of the circular are available from the Department of Health on 0171-210-5221.

2. The government proposes to allocate 50 per cent of the 1999-2000 grant on the basis of the 1998-99 Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) for children's social services, and 50 per cent on the basis of the 1999-2000 SSA formula for children's social services. The government recognises that some councils will need time to adjust to the new SSA allocation formula.

3. The Quality Protects initiative was announced by Mr Dobson on 21st September 1998.

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