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Every Child Matters Policy: Outcomes, Aims and Application

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Are the objectives of the "Every Child Matters policy" set by the government being met in actual use and practice?

Contents (Jump to)

Abstract

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Chapter 2 – Method

Chapter 3 – Results

3.1 Every Child Matters Green Paper

3.2 Children's Act 2004

3.3 Children’s Trusts 

3.4 Every Child Matters: Change for Children 

Chapter 4 - Discussion

Chapter 5 – Conclusion 

Tables – Diagrams

Bibliography 

Abstract

In September of 2003 the policy initiative “Every Child Matters” was presented to Parliament, sparked by the death in 2000 of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie, who was a victim of child abuse, and murder by her aunt Marie-Therese Kouao, and bus driver Carl Manning (BBC New, 2005). The striking as well as earth shaking factor in this tragic instance is the very strong possibility exists that Victoria’s suffering, and death could very well have been prevented. While it is impossible to predict what might have happened, the official inquiry into this case as headed by Lord Laming, investigated every facet, including the child protection system (BBC News, 2003). The preceding uncovered that there were at least twelve incidences whereby the system failed Victoria Climbie in terms of her welfare. Most noteworthy, in terms of the system becoming alerted to the potential of child abuse and or problems, were the child’s two visits for injuries to the hospital, the second, which entailed a two-week stay (BBC News, 2003).

The horrific summary just provided does not do justice to the details contained within this case that outraged the public as well as authorities. The Laming Report uncovered that information sharing between agencies failed to take the necessary and required steps to intercede (The Victoria Climbie Inquiry, 2003). The Inquiry resulted in the recommendation of a structure that would eliminate the potential for ambiguity in the decision making process for children and families (The Victoria Climbie Inquiry, 2003). This examination of child care policies shall analyze if the resulting Every Child Matters policies are meeting the purpose for which they were developed and devised.

Chapter 1 – Introduction

The death of Victoria Climbie resulted in an Inquiry conducted by Lord Laming to investigate the childcare system and make recommendations based upon the findings. In keeping with the aforementioned, the Inquiry Report recommended the following changes as well as inputs to the system (The Victoria Climbie Inquiry, 2003):

  1. Elimination of what the Inquiry termed as “buck passing”, through guidance procedures,
  2. Implementation of a coherent set of practices, policies, protocols and strategies for service delivery,
  3. Placement of the preceding into statues that define a clear process for monitoring as well as decision making of performance and follow up,
  4. Reduction of what the Inquiry called the ‘gap’ between the intention of the agencies, and the achievement as demonstrated by actual performance, eliminating the unpredictable facets of service delivery though the improvement of efficiency as well as effectiveness,
  5. Addressing the preventive aspects with families and increasing the support invention process that has deteriorated through proper funding and staffing,
  6. Understanding that the protection as well as support of children calls for a broader scope than just the statutory agencies. The process needs to include close association with community-based groups to broaden the scope of involvement, information, alerts and resources.
  7. A change in the manner that the agencies approach, see and work, as represented by the utilisation of their resources. The preceding calls for all agencies to carry out their part of the process, with a clear delineation to staffing of their primary responsibilities to children and families. The recommendations in these areas consisted of the following:
  1. Services must be child as well as family oriented,
  2. Be responsive to needs and opportunities,
  3. Services must have adequate resources,
  4. Be capable to delivering measurable national outcomes with regard to children,
  5. Be clear in terms of accountability throughout the agencies and organisation,
  6. Be transparent in its work processes and open to detailed scrutiny,
  7. Services, procedures, guidelines, protocols and policies must be clear as well as straightforward in terms of being understood,
  8. Services need to be placed on a statutory foundation, given the powers to ensure delivery of the outcomes desired.

To achieve the aforementioned ends, the Inquiry set forth structure changes that recommended major changes within the structures that deliver services to children and families (The Victoria Climbie Inquiry, 2003). It also identified that a key weakness in the system were the circumstances under which case reviews were conducted, adding that the that structure needs to be replaced by one that is more comprehensive as well as active (The Victoria Climbie Inquiry, 2003). Another critical aspect in the problems uncovered by the Inquiry was the referral and response levels of the agencies. The Inquiry made specific reference to sections 17 and 47 of the Children Act 1989 whereby (The Victoria Climbie Inquiry, 2003):

  1. Section 17

The segment of the Children Act 1989 places the responsibility as well as duty on the local authority for the safeguarding and promotion of welfare for children that are in need in their area.

  1. Section 47

The section of the Children Act 1989 calls for the local authority to make inquiries in instances where it is believed and or thought necessary whereby a child is suspected of being exposed to harm.

The problem with the preceding, especially Section 47, is that the Inquiry found that considerable confusion existed as to what inquiries should be made, with permission from the child’s carer required before other invention measures could be introduced if the preceding was refused (The Victoria Climbie Inquiry, 2003). Under Section 17, the social services could respond only when exceptional circumstances dictated, after permission as outline above had been obtained (The Victoria Climbie Inquiry, 2003). Furthermore, it was found that once the Section 17 designation assigned a label to a case, it was downgraded in terms of status and frequently poor follow up ensued (The Victoria Climbie Inquiry, 2003).

The aforementioned aspects were brought forth in order to have a basis for understanding the reasons and dynamics of the recommendations of the Victoria Climbie Inquiry (2003), the resulting policies, and performance since enactment. This examination shall investigate how the objectives of the Every Child Matters policy is being met through the use of council and agency support. This document is structured to present the methodology utilised, followed by the results of the research process, which is then discussed to determine the significance of the findings, and the implications. A conclusion has been utilised to summarise the examination, drawing upon the information and research uncovered to formulate what the preceding uncovered.

Chapter 2 – Methods

The methodology utilised in this examination entails a combination of evidence based research techniques and quantitative research. The term research in this examination represents a systematic inquiry “characterized by sets of principles, guidelines for procedures and which is subject to evaluation in terms of criteria such as validity, reliability and representativeness” (Hitchcock and Hughes, 1995, p. 5). In the context of this paper, social research represents “the collection and analysis of information on the social world, in order to understand and explain that world better” (Hitchcock and Hughes, 1995, p. 5). Key to the preceding process is the collection of evidence to support the research process, which requires much fuller information to fulfill its directive (Evans, 2006). The foregoing calls for a strong design in the research process to generate the evidence base (Potter, 2007). The foregoing was accomplished by reviewing the legislation as well as historical development of the Every Child Matters initiative, starting with the reasons that prompted its development.

Quantitative research represented conducting the gathering of information systematically, looking for relationships in the examination in the context of the study. Newman and Benz (1998, p. 2) tell us that “Most quantitative research approaches, regardless of their theoretical differences, tend to emphasize that there is a common reality on which people can agree.” With that underpinning, this examination strived to look for a clear delineation of facts that would closely approximate the preceding statement. To this end, surveys and studies were used as a basis for correlating facts, combined with the key purposes behind varied legislation. This look into the programmes that have led up to and are part of the “Every Child Matters” initiative shall utilise evidence based practice to uncover the facts, assess what has been gathered, and critically appraise the process and strategies in their present state.

Chapter 3 – Results

3.1 Every Child Matters Green Paper

The ”Every Child Matters” Green Paper (literacytrust.org.uk , 2003), contains four main proposal areas that were devised in response to the recommendations as made under Lord Laming’s Inquiry Report concerning the death of Victoria Climbie. These four key areas are (literacytrust.org.uk, 2003):

  1. support of parents and carers,
  2. early intervention, along with effective protection,
  3. accountability and integration,
  4. reform of the workforce

To aid in achieving the preceding, the Green Paper recommended a ‘Parenting Fund’ of £25 million to be added for a three-year period to underwrite the changes (literacytrust.org.uk, 2003). The critical aspect as identified under the Victoria Climbie Inquiry (2003) was early intervention, which the Green Paper advised represented improving the information sharing between agencies and authorities, the utilisation of a singular and unique identification number so that all information would fall under the same file, and the development of a common data network that is coordinated among all authorities and agencies to ensure that all information resides in one file database (literacytrust.org.uk, 2003). Governmental changes as identified under the Green Paper called for the creation of a Director of Children’s Services to deliver education to local authorities and children’s social services as well as the position of the Minister for Children, Young People and Families in the Department of Education and Skills that would have the responsibility for coordination of policies across all agencies and authorities (literacytrust.org.uk, 2003).

3.2 Children Act 2004

The Children Act 2004 put into place the legislative foundation to enable the policy changes as put forth under the Every Child Matters Green Paper (literacytrust.org.uk, 2004). The objective was the maximisation of opportunities, along with minimising risk for children and young people via the leadership of the Director of Children’s Services within the local authorities (Brachnell Forest Borough Council, 2007). The Children Act 2004 advises that the total number of children in the program has remained fairly consistent over the past ten years, with only minor upward and downward fluctuations (Department for Education and Skills, 2004).

 

The Children Act 2004 was enacted on 15 November 2004 and established (Department for Education and Skills, 2004):

  1. A Children’s Commissioner whose responsibility is to champion the interests and views regarding children as well as young people.
  2. Makes it the duty of Local Authorities to co-operate with other Local Authorities as well as agencies and bodies to improve the well being of children through information sharing and other forms of cooperation.
  3. Made it the duty of Local Authorities to implement local Safeguarding Children Boards that include key partners to participate.
  4. The provision for databases that contain information that enables better sharing capabilities between all authorities, agencies and other bodies.
  5. The development of an integrated inspection framework, along with Joint Area reviews to provide an assessment on progress

The important facets of the preceding changes and modifications to the Children Act 1989 is that it set forth the following (Department for Education and Skills, 2004):

  1. Duty to Cooperate

The Children Act 2004 under section 10 sets forth the duty for local authorities and agencies to cooperate with the guidance under the Act, thus representing the authority as well as framework for children’s trusts.

  1. Guidance on the Children and Young People’s Plan

Under section 17, it contains the key facet regarding the implementation of children’s trusts via a strategic plan for local authorities and allied services, partners and agencies.

  1. Guidance with respect to the roles as well as responsibilities of the Director of Children’s Services with regard to the Lead Member of Children’s Services.
  1. Guidance on Working Together with the objective to Safeguard Children.
  1. Guidance under section 11, on the Duty to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children

The preceding aspects were actualised under the Children Act 2004 through a national framework for change that specifies areas, working inwards to achieve targeted timetables as shown below:

 

3.3 Children’s Trusts

Children’s Trusts represents the framework whereby all services for children and young people are brought together in an area, supported by the Children Act 2004 (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007a). The central foundation of the Children’s Trusts is that they represent the active core of support for those who work daily with children, young people as well as families, with the objective being the delivery of improved outcomes via more integrated as well as responsive services (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007a). The integrated strategy utilises the following methodology for effective results and working processes (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007a):

  • the use of a joint needs assessment,
  • sharing decisions on priorities,
  • the identification of the resources available, and
  • the devising of a set of joint plans to deploy the preceding.

The critical aspect of the foregoing is the joint commissioning that pools resources to deploy the best outcome by directing action to those resources and the people best qualified to complete the services (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007a). In March of 2007 a national evaluation of the Children’s Trust Pathfinders was conducted that took in all 35 units and included a number of evaluative reports conducted on various segments of the program (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007b). The evaluation resulted in a number of recommendations that identified shortcomings and limitations in the delivery of services (national children’s bureau, 2006):

  1. The evaluation stated that a clarification is needed regarding exactly what the term participation means as there were different interpretations uncovered in the analysis.
  2. The approach procedures concerning participation were determined to be less than effective in terms of being systematic.
  3. To move participation beyond listening to active engagement that involves users.
  4. The development of support systems to enables the end users, children – young people – families, to fully participate as well as engaging them in a strategic manner.
  5. To see that participation utilises a broad range of differing and diverse methodologies to solicit as well as gain the views of children, young people and families.
  6. Recognition that the community as well as voluntary sectors have important roles and have users that have difficulty interacting with official bodies.
  7. Take the time, along with the commitment to construct as well as improve the infrastructure needed for effective participation by end users.

The study of user participation that entailed case studies in eight children’s trusts, along with three additional sites involved 107 professionals from management as well as differing levels in education, health, social care as well as local authorities (national children’s bureau, 2006). The perception of professionals was positive in terms of the increased engagement with users, children, young people and families, commenting that it helped to raise their self esteem as a result of being part of the process (national children’s bureau, 2006). User perceptions among those surveyed indicated a lack of participation, and or limited experience, also commenting that there was a lack of information regarding this aspect (national children’s bureau, 2006). The users cited that they would be interested in participatory engagement, as long as it was meaningful, as opposed to being tokenistic, and if such participation actually resulted in change (national children’s bureau, 2006). In addition to the preceding, the surveyed users indicated that feedback in terms of important issues as to where they were, and the actions being taken, and or the outcomes would be useful in transparency (national children’s bureau, 2006). The survey participants also indicated that they felt more involvement would improve relationships.

Those surveyed added that they felt that listening was not a culture trait in the country, thus participation was not, in their opinion, a positive process unless they could see results based upon a broad feedback from issues they participated in, as well as those of other users (national children’s bureau, 2006). The users surveyed also added that they felt that participation was not really representative, voicing the opinion that the same people were asked about their views and opinions repeatedly, as opposed to the process seeking out more individuals to participate (national children’s bureau, 2006). The methodology, in terms of gathering opinions was also questioned, in that the field of reach could be widened through the utilisation of questionnaires as well as discussion groups (national children’s bureau, 2006). It was suggested that such measures should be advertised broadly, and utilise a wide variety of measures in order to make the process participatory as opposed to being selection based (national children’s bureau, 2006).

The manner in which the overall process operates, is designed and performs was also raised. Users, community and volunteer groups indicated that this represented a key area as the process is supposed to represent one of inclusion, thus, their inputs in these areas should be consulted (national children’s bureau, 2006). One specific example was the drafting of questionnaires. Users felt that they should be included in the process to design the questions that would appear on questionnaires as well as assist in the discussion panel formulations to make the process truly participatory (national children’s bureau, 2006). The preceding represent limitations that users felt did not involve them in the overall process that was designed to aid and benefit them.

The foregoing factors represent clear indications that users want to as well as should be a more active part of the process. Their views indicated that they desired to be included in the developmental phases as opposed to being interview subjects, and felt that they should have a deeper, and more meaning participation level as members of the public, especially as members of the public for whom the services are targeted. Strategic involvement represents an important issue in that it engages users and provides inputs that the overall process can utilise in modifying and improving service delivery as well as the notification process on the part of the public as to potential abuse issues. The foregoing view is brought forth by Petr (2004, p. 79) who points to the importance of the inclusion of parents and users in the process as a means to heighten participation. The foregoing approach is also espoused by Northridge et al (2005), who state research partnerships should be an inclusive process that involves participants and community agencies in the process. Boyden and Ennew (1997) also advocate the importance of users in the participation process in terms of taking part and being involved, as well as the benefits of gaining insights from their inputs.

The study concluded that users want greater participation in the process, and that a variety of methods and approaches need to be utilised to obtain the views, ideas, input and concerns (national children’s bureau, 2006). It also recommended that a broad variety of methods should be utilised and exploited in order to obtain the views of users as well as their recommendations and suggestions, providing more transparency in the processing and outcome of the aforementioned to make the system more effective and user, community based (national children’s bureau, 2006).

3.4 Every Child Matters: Change for Children

“Every Child Matters: Change for Children” (HM Government, 2004) represented the national framework to improve outcomes for children as well as young people (Brachnell Forest Borough Council, 2007). The policy indicates that it is committed to seeing that five key outcomes are achieved that are important to a child’s well being, these represent “… being healthy; staying safe; enjoying and achieving; making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well being … (HM Government, 2004). The initiative sets forth key objectives and targets with regard to the underpinning of the entire framework of children’s services. The foregoing are represented by the following (HM Government, 2004). :

  1. The improvement as well as the integration of all services, covering a child’s early years, in the schooling environment, along with health services.
  2. To provide more specialised help to prevent problems, promote opportunities, and most importantly to act early as well as effectively in the event that problems arise.
  3. To reconfigure services so that they revolve around the child and family under children’s centres, extended schools, and through professionals engaged in multi disciplinary teams.
  4. To develop and have engaging as well as dedicated leadership throughout all levels of the system.
  5. The development of an atmosphere of shared responsibility throughout the system and across system lines that focuses upon the safeguarding of children, as well as protection from harm.
  6. To heighten the listen atmosphere, centring on children, young people and families in the assessment processes, along with planning facets, and especially in face-to-face encounters.

The preceding bear strong similarity to the recommendations and findings as set forth under the study conduced by the National Children’s Bureau (2006), which pointed out that these lofty objectives have not fully been met. The five outcomes as represented by “… being healthy; staying safe; enjoying and achieving; making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well being …” (HM Government, 2004), upon deeper examination entail the following:

  1. Be Healthy
    • physical health
    • emotional and mental health
    • sexual health
    • lifestyles that are healthy
    • the election not to partake of illegal drugs
    • and that carers as well as families actively promote healthy choices
  2. Stay Safe
    • safety from maltreatment, violence, neglect and exploitation sexually
    • safety from accidental injury as well as death
    • safety from bullying and discrimination
    • safety from criminal activities, crime and anti social behaviour
    • that security and stability are seen to
  3. Enjoy and achieve
    • that children and young people are ready for school
    • that children and young people attend school
    • that they achieve social as well as personal development and have recreational activities they enjoy
  4. Make a positive contribution
    • that children, young people and families are engaged in decision making as well as support their communities
    • that children, and young people engage in behaviour that I law abiding, both in an out of school
    • that they develop self-confidence
    • that they develop behaviour that is enterprising
  5. Achieve economic well-being
    • that young people engage in higher education, training and or employment
    • that young people are prepared and ready to be employed
    • that children and young people live in homes that are decent in sustainable communities
    • that they have access to transport
    • and that they live in households free of low income

All of the preceding have been set as objectives to foster the development of children and young people through adulthood as well as address the tragic situation as brought forth by the Victoria Climbe situation. In order to attain the foregoing, local children’s services under the Children Act 2004 are held accountable for the deliverance of improved outcomes via inspection (HM Government, 2004). The preceding is to be accomplished by (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007c):

  1. Robust and active inter-agency accountability and governance
  2. The “local authority director of children’s services” establishment of cooperative arrangements with like service units and local authorities (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007c).
  3. The partners in this arrangement include entities from the “public, private, voluntary and community” sectors (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007c).
  4. Area child protection committees are replaced by local safeguarding children boards

Under the foregoing “Every Child Matters: Change for Children” (HM Government, 2004), the integrated strategy represents the following elements (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007c):

  1. The joint assessment of the local needs that involve users.
  2. The utilisation of a singular plan that is shared between all children’s service units.
  3. The pooling of budgets.
  4. The use of joint area reviews for the inspection of children’s services on the local level.
  5. Integrated frontline service delivery to improve user outcomes at the strategic level.

In terms of integrated processes, “Every Child Matters: Change for Children” (HM Government, 2004) calls for (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007d):

  1. The use of “new common initial assessment” frameworks to “reduce duplication and improve referrals” (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007d).
  2. Improved information sharing.
  3. The re-engineering of “local processes and procedures … to support integration around the needs of children.

The integrated frontline delivery represents the manner via which the foregoing is accomplished within the overall framework (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007e):

  1. “Integrated, accessible and personalised services “ represent the manner via which the preceding will be approached, building the processes “around the needs of children and young people” as opposed to service, and or professional boundaries (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007e).
  2. The shift of focus to prevention as well as safeguarding.
  3. Services to be co-located in locations such as children’s centres as well as extended schools.
  4. The reform of workforces to result in staffs that are well trained, with the credo that children are the focal point, understanding that their needs are uppermost.
  5. The “development of multi-disciplinary teams” along with professionals.

The strategy representing the improvement of outcomes is founded upon “changing the behaviour of those working with the users via more integrated as well as responsive service delivery (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007e). The foregoing calls for the use of specialist support that is embedded throughout the system, and which can be accessed by all service units (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007e). The key to the process is in workforce reform in terms of attitudes, trained staff, the internal development of common skill sets and knowledge base, utilising the element of trust as well as information sharing (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007e).

Chapter 4 – Discussion

In equating the results achieved under the programmes established for Every Child Matters the Department for Children, Schools and Families published a report equating evidence in support of the plan (2007). The Report assessed the achievements as well as shortcomings and limitations of progress thus far as achieved:

Table 1 – Results Findings – Every Child Matter Be Healthy

(Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2007)

Be Healthy

Proceeding Well

More Work Required

 

Most children are happy, however

room for improvement

Infant mortality rates are

relatively high

 

Suicide rates are low

High rates of low birth weights

 

Breast feeding rates increased

Increase in obesity rates

 

Rates regarding physical activity

Have improved

School lunch rate usage is down

 

Rates for teenage pregnancy are

high, but falling

Sexual activity disease rates

are increasing

 

Smoking rates have decreased

Alcohol consumption has increased

 

Trends concerning drug use

are down among the 11

through 15 age group

Cannabis usage remains high overall

Table 2 – Results Findings – Every Child Matter/Stay Safe

(Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2007)

Stay Safe

95% of children state they feel

either very or quite safe at

home, with 85% stating they

feel this way at school

30% of children report feeling

unsafe on public transport

 

Rates of death from injury are down

Almost 35% state they feel

unsafe where they life

 

Road traffic incidents involving

children are down

Bullying is reported as a high

concern

   

There is still a minority of children

at risk from abuse and neglect

   

Rates for child homicide remain

basically the same

   

Road deaths among 16-19

year olds remains high

   

Groups from poorer

backgrounds are more

vulnerable to accidents

Table 3 – Results Findings – Every Child Matter / Enjoy and Achieve

(Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2007)

Enjoy and Achieve

Test results for 11 year olds have improved significantly

Early schooling year results do not

show improvement

 

Secondary educational rates

show improvement

There are still some students making

slow progress

 

Low results as a proportion of all schools has dropped significantly

A small percentage of overall student account for a disproportionate number of all absences

 

Post compulsory attainment rates have risen

Students in England reported feeling

more pressured by schoolwork than

in other countries

 

Unsatisfactory behaviour rates

has improved, but both students and teachers still voice concerns

The educational progress of those

children being looked after is on

the rise, however overall they have relatively poor attainment levels

 

The absenteeism rate has fallen

Significant gaps exists with regard to participation in full time education as well as training, based on ethnicity, gender, social class as well as region

 

Basically, few students report

being unhappy performing school work

Post compulsory participation is still low compared to international ratings

 

School performance rates in deprived areas has increased at a faster rate than those in affluent areas

 
 

The number of permanent exclusions, overall has decreased

 

Table 4 – Results Findings – Every Child Matter / Make a Positive Contribution

(Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2007)

Make a

Positive

Contribution

The research indicates that the majority of young people are indeed making a positive contribution

Improvement is needed regarding access to positive activities

 

Volunteer rates among young people is strong

The involvement levels of young people in terms of crime and anti-social behaviour has not increased

Table 5 – Results Findings – Every Child Matter / Achieve Economic Well-being

(Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2007)

Achieve

Economic

Well-being

Access as well as the quality of childcare has increased

Child poverty levels remains high

 

The overall number of children in poverty has been decreasing

Different groups still report that access to childcare is variable

   

The incidence of childcare utilisation in deprived areas is lower that overall groups

The preceding indicate that since enactment, the “Every Child Matters” initiatives have generated results, however, as indicated by the above, there is still room for improvements. The following charts set forth most of the preceding areas in graphic terms.

 

Within the above survey, 41% indicated feeling unsafe as a result of gangs, bullying, violence, crime and weapons, with 4% stating that they did not feel safe at home (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2007).

 

The prior chart is based upon 235,000 children as well as young people who received assistance from a social care service, with 87,000 classified as suffering from either abuse or neglect (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2007). A shortcoming indicated by the study is that not all cases of abuse, and or neglect are reported, and more importantly the study was unable to determine if the rates in this category had changed over time (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2007). In the measurable category of deaths as a result of injury for children fell from 11.1 deaths per 100,000 children in 1981 to 4.0 deaths per 100,000 in 2001 (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2007).

In a report compiled for 139 councils under the annual performance assessment for 2006, along with the findings under the first 37 areas of reviews for children’s services during 2005-2006 by the Office for Standards in Education a review and analysis (Ofsted, 2007) of key themes with the aim of improving service delivery, points out the achievements and shortcomings of programmes under Every Child Matters. The Report stated that the general picture with regard to the aforementioned shows overall improvement, with 107 authorities making good, and or excellent contributions in their delivery of better outcomes (Ofsted, 2007). In terms of service delivery and performance, the Report indicated that the challenge that lies ahead represents narrowing the gap with respect to outcomes and opportunities with those children and young people that are the most vulnerable, and or underachieving (Ofsted, 2007). It was indicated that strong partnerships represented a key facet in providing support for families, children and young people, and the results as achieved in the higher performing authorities will be of use in aiding improvements in those that have lower performance scores (Ofsted, 2007). Most importantly, the report mentioned that the overall Every Child Matters initiative is a work in progress, meaning, that the design attempted to consider all the variables needed, but, it remains open to changes, modifications and adjustments from use, in keeping with its main directive, the safeguarding and protection of children (Ofsted, 2007).

The report utilised the same format as prior analysis, by breaking down the review segments among the major theme areas of being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well-being (Ofsted, 2007):

  1. Being Healthy

The Report stated that councils have been making a good contribution in the tackling of health concerns, and addressing the needs of the more vulnerable communities as well as groups. But, as also stated in the study conducted by Department for Children, Schools and Families (2007), unequal results are being recorded for underprivileged and lower income groups. The Ofsted (2007) report states that the foregoing represents an “inequality of provision between different areas and different groups of children” stating the foregoing are represented by poor ongoing monitoring as well as health, and physical needs in these more vulnerable groups. The Report goes on to specify that the preceding is in “disabled children, looked after children and young offenders” with the last group identified as when they make their transition to become adults (Ofsted, 2007). The foregoing is particularly disturbing in that the foregoing represents the category that Victoria Climbe fell into.

  1. Staying Safe

Child safety has improved, but as indicated under ‘being healthy’ the poorer and more disadvantaged groups still have higher rates of accidents as found in the study conducted by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (2007). The Ofsted (2007) Report states that in the better performing authorities, safeguarding and protection have a higher profile. It adds that vulnerable children are well protected, but, it also states that in the weaker authorities, the process is marked by delays in the completion of core and initial assessments, and the thresholds for access to services are too high, thus resulting in a lack of placements for those children falling into the looked after category (Ofsted, 2007). The preceding represents a barrier to child safety in these groups that is highly reminiscent of the Victoria Climbie situation where she was in a lower income situation, and the delay in response cost her life.

  1. Enjoying and Achieving

The Ofsted (2007) report indicated that the progress in this area was just adequate. Itwent on to state that the higher performing partnerships have a clearer focus on improvement in educational standards, along with stronger intervention and school support, but that the preceding is not the case across the board where ineffectiveness was noted (Ofsted, 2007). Once again, the disadvantaged and lower income groups showed less progress in this category as well, pointing to a disturbing trend in service delivery to these groups as reported by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (2007).

  1. Making a Positive Contribution

The same trend again is noted in the Report by Ofsted (2007), that the higher performing areas have good service deliveries across the board, while the lower performing areas suffer particularly in service delivery to the poorer and disadvantaged groups, and to a lesser degree, overall.

  1. Achieving Economic Well-being

The Ofsted (2007) report indicated that the majority of councils scored well in this regard, with weaknesses identified by fieldwork. The Report added that service delivery seemed even across all demographic profiles, but that a shortage of suitable housing remained a problem (Ofsted, 2007). The study conducted by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (2007) has a similar good evaluation for this area, but also noted that ‘The incidence of childcare utilisation in deprived areas is lower than overall groups’.

Chapter 5 – Conclusion

The study as conducted by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (2007) and Ofsted (2007) seemingly indicates a soft trend in terms of service delivery and improvements. What is meant by the preceding is that overall delivery of services for the disadvantaged and poorer groups, which also represents those more at risk in terms of vulnerability, has made less progress than the groups overall. The foregoing is particularly disturbing in light of the fact that one of the key reasons resulting in Every Child Matters was the delivery of services as demonstrated in the case of Victoria Climbe, who was in the aforementioned high vulnerability group.

What is meant by the softer areas, are those as represented by enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well-being. The harder areas of being healthy, and staying safe represent the more critical issue of protection and safeguarding, which represents the foundational premise for the Children Act, from which all other service deliveries emanate. This is specifically stated as “Integrated, accessible and personalised services “ represent the manner via which the preceding will be approached, building the processes “around the needs of children and young people” as opposed to service, and or professional boundaries (everychildmatters.gov.uk, 2007e).

It seems that priority should be given to the preceding ‘hard’ areas, as they represent protecting children from abuse and harm, before they can develop where the other facets come into play. The foregoing emphasis, does not mean placing a lower value on other service delivery areas, simply that in appraising and scoring local councils on their performance and delivery of services, the indicated hard areas of ‘being healthy and staying safe’ should be weighted more heavily as these require more invention to ensure the well-being of users as well as coordination, fieldwork and quick action. Lumping the overall ratings equally seemingly weakens the objective of the “Every Child Matters” programmes as the softer areas outnumber the hard, and provides a skewed evaluation appearance, until one carefully reads into the assessment criteria and notations as provided by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (2007) study. Said report, went into more detail on the nuances involved and pointed out shortcomings as well as limitations, as opposed to the more lofty Ofsted (2007) report. Evidence for the preceding criticism is found in the following:

 

The Ofsted (2007) report even makes a slight concession to the preceding in stating “The pattern of performance varies between partnerships; strengths in some areas are identified as weaknesses in others and sometimes in equal proportion”. It also goes on to state that the largest challenge is represented by reducing the gap of opportunities and outcomes among children and young people that are most vulnerable (Ofsted, 2007). The foregoing includes looked after children as well as other vulnerable groups, mentioning that the reduction of inequalities is a significant challenge (Ofsted, 2007). In continuing in this theme, the Ofsted (2007) report brought out the importance of the “mapping and analysis of needs to be undertaken” to identify the correct priorities, and thus calling in the right resources to effectively deal with the issues.

The deeper one delves into the entire evaluation, study and survey processes as conducted by the Ofsted 82007, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (2007), and the National Children’s Bureau (2006), the more one sees common areas, concerns and issues buried in the overall reports that indicate good performance and progress. The Ofsted (2007) Report recommendations include that children, young people and families should be provided with the opportunity to scrutinise service delivery through user feedback, and that this process should be utilised in a systematic manner. This same approach was uncovered in the National Children’s Bureau (2006) survey were respondents indicated that they did not think they were involved enough in the participation facets, citing panels, designing questionnaires, receiving feedback and overall transparency on issues raised.

The foregoing goes to the heart of what the Victoria Climbe Inquiry (2003) recommended that:

‘A change in the manner that the agencies approach, see and work, as represented by the utilisation of their resources. The preceding calls for all agencies to carry out there part of the process, with a clear delineation to staffing of their primary responsibilities to children and families. The recommendations in these areas consisted of the following (Victoria Climbe Inquiry, 2003):

  1. Services must be child as well as family oriented,
  2. Be responsive to needs and opportunities,
  3. Services must have adequate resources,
  4. Be capable to delivering measurable national outcomes with regard to children,
  5. Be clear in terms of accountability throughout the agencies and organisation,
  6. Be transparent in its work processes and open to detailed scrutiny,
  7. Services, procedures, guidelines, protocols and policies must be clear as well as straightforward in terms of being understood,
  8. Services need to be placed on a statutory foundation, given the powers to ensure delivery of the outcomes desired.?

Transparency is the issue in this instance that the involvement and participation is centred on. The “Every Child Matters Green paper” (literacytrust.org.uk , 2003), indicated four key proposal areas that resulted from Lord Laming’s Inquiry Report as:

  1. Support of parents and carers,
  2. Early intervention, along with effective protection,
  3. Accountability and integration,
  4. Reform of the workforce

Once again, accountability, or transparency is brought up as a critical issue. The preceding is how the public can judge results. In conducting this examination, considerable time and research was required to uncover the preceding information. Information that is there, but takes concentration and time to read through. Only when a number of reports, studies and surveys are reviewed does a theme become apparent. The general public does not have that kind of time to devote to such a process, and should not have to. The effectiveness of “Every Child Matters” will come when warts and all are displayed openly, then the corrective action can be undertaken to remove them. Hiding issues in a maze of worded reports, studies, and surveys just serves to mask the cold instead of cure it. The issue was to prevent another Victoria Climbe in the system from ever happening. Unless the system is critical of itself, dramatic improvements will not proceed fast enough, and quickness is what is required to prevent issues for children, young adults and families in need.

Tables - Diagrams

Chart 1- Number of Children Looked After 8

Chart 2 – How Safe or Unsafe Children Feel From Being Hurt by Other People 23

Chart 3 – Categories of Child Protection Registration 23

Figure 1 – National Framework for Local Change 10

Figure 2- The Children’s Trust Overview 10

Figure 3 – Distribution of Grades for 139 Local Authority Children’s Services 28

Table 1 – Results Findings – Every Child Matter Be Healthy 19

Table 2 – Results Findings – Every Child Matter / Stay Safe 20

Table 3 – Results Findings – Every Child Matter / Enjoy and Achieve 21

Table 4 – Results Findings – Every Child Matter / Make a Positive Contribution 22

Table 5 – Results Findings – Every Child Matter / Achieve Economic Well-being 22

Bibliography

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Boyden, J., Ennew, J. (1997) Children in Focus: a manual for participatory research with children. Radd Barnen. Stockholm, Sweden

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