Can I persuade people to sign up to the Every Child in Need Campaign? http://www.everychildinneed.org.uk/
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The site explains it all more, but in essence the issue is this. Currently any "child in need" is entitled by law to be the subject of an initial assessment which the local authority should carry out within a week of being asked to do so. That should enable them to identify whether there are any urgent needs that they should be meeting, e.g. most starkly for a child out on the streets the need for a bed for the night; and they can decide to proceed to a core assessment which should be completed within 5 weeks and which should result in a coherent care plan. It's used for lots of purposes, e.g. disabled children needing aids in the home or respite care, support services and accommodation for children who have been chucked out by their families, assistance for trafficked children to escape their traffickers etc. Local authorities aren't too keen on expending resources on these kids, and the fact that the law imposes quite strict requirements on them is a godsend: if they haven't complied with the statutory time limits and done a proper job as defined in the guidance and numerous court cases interpreting the guidance, they can be taken to court which usually resolves the issue very quickly.
However, little Gove (who else) has decided that we need to "streamline" that process and take the bureaucracy out of it. Relying principally on research around child protection issues, he proposes to review and radically change the guidance on assessment for children in need so that, amongst other matters, the time limits disappear. He does not seem to appreciate that a child can be in need without there being a child protection issue - although if you fail to give the right help, it might well become a child protection problem later. The main problem is that cash strapped local authorities will never prioritise vulnerable young people unless they have to, with the result that they simply will not give them the help they need. Some authorities have been trialling the guidance and it has already resulted in some disasters - e.g the homeless 16 year old girl who was shoved into a hostel where she was the only girl amongst a number of older men and was, inevitably, sexually assaulted; if the LA had been forced to do an assessment they would, it is to be hoped, have identified the fact that she needed safe accommodation. Or the family of a violent boy with severe autism and other physical and learning disabilities which fell apart because they could no longer cope with him without help.
The DfE have now reviewed the trial but have in the main talked to the LAs concerned, who not surprisingly are saying they thought it was all good; they have not talked to one disabled or vulnerable young person or their families.
Initially they were going to issue the guidance with no formal consultation but have now been persuaded to consult; however, conveniently they are doing so over August when no-one will be around. This campaign has been launched to try to exert some influence by persuading people to contact MPs, respond to the consultation etc.
I know there are people round here who know what it is like to be directly affected by these issues, so if you feel like contributing, please do.