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Update on Children’s Services published 24 September 2008

AN initial blueprint for the future of children’s services is published today. Childcare

'Isle of Man Children's Services: An Update' has been written by the three Departments working towards more closely integrating services - the Departments of Education, Home Affairs and Health and Social Security.

It sets out the framework for how the Isle of Man Government and voluntary agencies will work together to ensure children and young people attain the five priority outcomes set out in the Chief Minister’s Strategy for Children and Young People 2005-2010: staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and prospering.

The update will pave the way for the next steps in the integration of children’s services, which – subject to legislation – will see the Minister for Education become the Minister for Education and Children and will see the appointment of a Children’s Commissioner.

The update is a forerunner to a fully fledged Children’s Plan, which will be published in April 2009 and which will incorporate the views of children and young people on the ‘five outcomes’.

The Children’s Committee will lead the way under the new structure, providing the strategic direction for those leading services for children and young people. The Committee is chaired by Education Minister Anne Craine MHK and includes Ministers, Members and Chief Officers of the three Departments involved.

The Children’s Services Partnership will have responsibility for the day-to-day delivery of services. Its membership will include senior officials from the three Departments plus representatives from the voluntary sector.

A Safeguarding Children’s Board has replaced the Child Protection Committee and will focus on ensuring children and young people stay safe. It will have seven operational work groups and, where needed, task groups. Its functions will also be enshrined in legislation.

Key to the new approach will be the delivery of multi-agency services at local level where possible, with more specialised services continuing to be provided centrally. The update confirms that a pilot scheme is soon to commence in the south of the Island, where a team leader has been appointed.

A Common Assessment Framework will give those working with children and young people a common format to identify where problems are arising and intervene appropriately.

Greater information sharing is also vital to the new approach, the update states, and a thorough review of the way information is shared is being undertaken.

A website is also planned. It will act as a directory for services available to children and young people and will allow children and young people to submit their views, which will influence the way services are developed.

The Education Minister explained that the update was the first major milestone in the project to more closely integrate children’s services such as education, social care and youth justice.

She said:

This update provides information on the structures we have put in place across Government to make sure that we all work together under one umbrella providing children’s services. I have been very encouraged by the willingness of my political colleagues and officers at all levels in each of the Departments to co-operate with each other and the voluntary services to make this happen. The bottom line is that we all have a common aim and that is to do the very best for our children and young people.’

Copies of the update are downloadable via www.gov.im/lib/docs/education//iomchildrensservicesanupdate.pdf or can be obtained from the Department of Education, the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Health and Social Security.

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