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Resilience prevails amid Osborne's bleak choices

Like a piercing, bitter English winter, Chancellor George Osbourne's "autumn statement" was eye-wateringly harsh. It is, without doubt, children and young people growing up in the most deprived households who are being asked to bear the brunt.

'Moment of madness' is in danger of recurring

Basing policy on evidence seems straightforward. But we continue to see politicians speak out on issues with the scantest of evidence and with particular audiences in mind. The most extreme example of late was the coverage about gangs after the summer unrest.

Riot response requires long-term solutions, not knee-jerk policies

The violence across English cities this month triggered its own riot - of condemnation, debate and knee-jerk policy pronouncements. In the days that followed the first outbreak in Tottenham, an exercise in national soul searching took place through the media. Yours truly, for one, did the breakfast TV paper review on Sky News.

Embarrassing custody rates require creative solutions

The high number of young people held in youth custody in England and Wales has been a cause of national embarrassment. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has quite rightly raised concerns at the levels of young people held in our youth jails in its recent reports. Despite impressive reductions in recent years, more than 2,000 under-18s were in custody in May.

Progress in joint working must go on

The decision last week to strip the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) of government funding will inevitably raise concerns that any genuine "development" of the workforce will stall. A plan for how the Department for Education intends to take forward the quango's work is yet to be articulated.

Sir Philip Green right to propose centralised approach

Sir Philip Green has spotted that the government is inefficient. It buys laptops and paper for wildly different and inflated prices, and manages its property portfolio appallingly. He proposes centralisation, and who could argue against that? A central agency could distribute supplies much more cheaply than every business unit buying their own.

Shhh... Every Child Matters lives on

Watch out, the language police are about. An internal Department for Education memo lists 30 terms the government wants consigned to history, and the words that should be used in their place. Many relate directly to children's services.

Hidden costs of payment-by-results

We are in an age of austerity where outcomes are critical. So it is difficult to take issue in raw principle with the government's desire to commission more public services on a payment-by-results basis.

Can good services remain standing?

Like the suffocating drone of vuvuzelas, cuts continue to dominate the atmosphere in the children's services arena and in public services more generally.

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.

Curbing the trend towards 'combat' dogs

We have good reason to get more anxious about the proliferation of dogs owned, irresponsibly, by young people. Not all young people, of course, but a group of young men for whom ownership of a fighting dog has steadily replaced the possession of a knife. The latter carries a custodial sentence of five years; the former can only result in confiscation.

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.

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.

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