Headlines: May 17th, 2010

A children’s charity is warning that the rebranding of the Department for Children Schools and Families signalled a backward step in support for prevention and early intervention in cases of child neglect and abuse. Railway Children, which works with runaways, is calling on the government to support innovative and specially tailored services for children with complex needs.

The charity made its call after the DCSF was renamed the Department for Education. It also wants to see a Government-appointed champion for young runaways, a step it believes would also indicate a commitment to partnership.

It said prevention and early intervention were vital to breaking the vicious cycle of neglect and abuse, exclusion from school, homelessness and involvement in drugs and crime. The charity’s chief executive, Terina Keene, said: “The link between substance abuse, prostitution, poor mental health, anti-social behaviour and low educational attainment is well documented. Focusing on education alone will not help this invisible group of children break this toxic chain of harm.”

The new Education Secretary, Michael Gove, explained the reasoning behind the change in an e-mail to staff at the department, which it is understood will have responsibility for children’s services. He said too many children still left primary school unable to meet basic standards in English or Maths and too few 16-year-olds achieved five decent GCSEs. “To help us achieve the radical reforms that we will need, I want to refocus the Department on its core purpose of
supporting teaching and learning,” he said.