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Sector must influence the coalition

They say that a week is a long time in politics. Quite. As predicted in these pages for many months, the new Tory Secretary of State Michael Gove has renamed the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) as the Department for Education.

Election result prolongs uncertainty

At the time of writing -- on the historically uncertain afternoon of Friday 7 May -- the Conservatives were about to enter into negotiations with the Liberal Democrats about helping them to form a government.

Every Child Matters faces biggest test

The Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) pledged, in its annual report last week, to assess and build on the progress of Every Child Matters (ECM) for the next five years, as a policy priority for the coming 12 months. It is a good priority to hold, particularly given the uncertainty ahead.

Gove gives joint working a rude jolt

Michael Gove's revelation to CYP Now that a Conservative government will remove obligations on local authorities to have children's trusts in place will come as a thunderbolt for children's services, particularly in their efforts to safeguard children and enable them to thrive.

Sure Start is worth shouting about

The post-war Labour government bequeathed us the NHS. Under New Labour, the creation of Sure Start children's centres is the one public service programme to stand any resemblance to that achievement.

Outstanding challenge for Ofsted

Ofsted-bashing has been on the rise for several months. Cries of exasperation over the way the children's services inspectorate goes about its business have come in fits and starts from all quarters.

Outreach work is key to Sure Start

It is becoming pretty clear that Sure Start will be a key election issue. For months, Labour has claimed that a Conservative government would decimate the service it has created, an accusation consistently denied by the Tories.

Work together to hit poverty target

We are now in 2010 and the long-held target to halve child poverty by this very year seems light-years away. Nevertheless, the Child Poverty Bill will soon come into law, committing government to eradicate child poverty by 2020.

It's time to respect children's rights

You wait ages for one 20th anniversary, then three come along at once. We've just marked the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 1989 Children Act. And this week it is 20 years since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child came into existence.

Cuts could enhance joint working

The party conference season is over and national politics is destined for a surreal few months in the run-up to the general election. Expect plenty more short-term children's policy announcements - some even eye- catching - as the main parties try to outmanoeuvre each other to strike a popular chord. Politics in Westminster will become increasingly sensationalised and polarised.

Policy into practice - Infant health

THE ISSUE: Being a new parent can be tough. Making sense of all the advice and information from relatives, magazines and experts to work out what is best for your baby can be an exhausting challenge.

Focus of spending must be balanced

It's official: the UK spends more money on child welfare and education than the average market economy. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report out last week, we spend just over 90,000 per child from birth to 18 compared to an OECD average among 30 member countries of just under 80,000.

How childcare can survive recession

The huge expansion in childcare over the past decade is one of this government's most visible achievements. Latest estimates suggest that 2.8 million families use childcare. We are now a childcare nation.

The next commissioner needs bite

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has fired the starting gun to recruit a children's commissioner for England to succeed Sir Al Aynsley-Green early next year.

It's good logic to halve child poverty

The fiscal stimulus, be it tax cuts or increases in government spending, has been all the rage on both sides of the Atlantic, as the boldest way to ride the recession.

The key to Ofsted's rehabilitation

Ofsted has attracted its share of flak in recent months, much of it justified. The verdict of its Annual Performance Assessment of Haringey Council in late 2007 as "good" is now notorious.

Policy into practice Time for fun

THE ISSUEReports looking at childhood have claimed that children's lives in Britain have become "more difficult than in the past", and that "more young people are anxious and troubled".

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