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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.

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.

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.

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.

Wild wastelands should be scenes of fun

The swathes of land that were once the industrial heartlands of Britain, now reclaimed by nature, offer a fantastic adventure playground for children and young people. The communities that grew up surrounded by coal and steel now have wild parklands on their doorstep.

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