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Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what (a) mechanisms and (b) guidance exist on the provision to parents with substance abuse histories of access to their children whilst in care; and if he will make a statement. 
Kevin Brennan: Section 34 of the Children Act 1989 and accompanying regulations and guidance require local authorities to allow reasonable contact between a looked after child and their parents, and describe the circumstances under which such contact may be denied temporarily in an emergency in order to safeguard the child.
The Act also requires the court to consider the proposed contact arrangements for a child in care proceedings and courts may make directions about the nature or amount of contact which should be allowed.
Neither the regulations nor the guidance make reference to any particular needs or circumstances of birth parents in relation to contact, since local authorities and the courts should take decisions based on what is best for the child in each individual case.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will make a statement on the decision-making process used to determine whether to take (a) a baby, (b) children or (c) young people into care. 
Kevin Brennan: There are extensive requirements governing decision-making processes for bringing a child into care, which is ultimately a decision for the courts. The processes are the same for all children and are set out in the Court Orders volume of the Children Act 1989 guidance. Local authorities must undertake a thorough assessment of the parents' capacity to meet the child's developmental needs in the context of the wider family and environmental factors. The plan which follows the assessment must then be submitted to the court and will be subject to judicial scrutiny as part of the consideration as to whether the harm thresholds set out in legislation have been met.
The Department has recently consulted on a revised version of the Court orders guidance which will shortly be reissued. Both the revised guidance and the policy direction of the Care Matters Green and White papers emphasise the need to engage families, including wider family, at the earliest stages of decision-making and ensure that they are fully informed about local authority concerns.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what (a) support and (b) guidance is made available to local authorities for keeping families together before taking (i) babies, (ii) children and (iii) young people into care; and if he will make a statement. 
Kevin Brennan: The Children Act 1989 places a duty on local authorities to promote the upbringing of all children in need in their area within their families and they have a power to provide a range of services to families including, in exceptional circumstances, financial support to discharge this duty. This duty is regardless of the age of the child. The legislation is accompanied by extensive guidance which sets out how the legislation is to be delivered in practice. In addition, Every Child Matters, launched in 2003, set a challenging agenda for central and local government and partner agencies to strengthen prevention services through an increased focus on better, earlier and co-ordinated support to families and carers.
The Care Matters White Paper launched in June this year set out a number of actions, including funding for piloting new interventions, which will enable more children to remain with their birth and extended families.
Kevin Brennan: The attainment of looked after children has improved. However, outcomes for this group of children and young people are not good enough. In June 2007 we published our White Paper Care Matters: Time for Change, which set out the range of ways in which we will improve the education of looked after children. These include: putting the designated teacher on a statutory footing to improve the expertise in school and ensure a stronger focus on their learning needs; introducing a £500 annual allowance for looked after children at risk of falling behind at school; appointing virtual school heads to oversee their education; reducing mobility of school placements, particularly in the crucial years before GCSEs; and a bursary of a minimum of £2,000 for all care leavers who go on to university.
We are personalising the learning of looked after children to ensure that they receive greater support where they are falling behind. This includes providing greater access to one to one tuition. For example:
The £500 allowance for looked after children at risk of falling behind at school will be used to support a wide range of additional learning activities that meet the needs of the child, including one to one tuition;
We are currently piloting better approaches to personalised learning, including one to one tuition, through our Making Good Progress pilot. The pilot is providing up to a total of 20 hours of one to one tuition in English and maths for 43,000 pupils, focused on pupils who are behind national expectations, are falling behind, or looked after children who would particularly benefit from individual support; and
HSBC have provided £1 million to fund one to one tuition for looked after children. This provision will be managed by new virtual school heads who will oversee the education of looked after children in a local area.
From next year we will roll out the Every Child a Reader programme nationally, building on the highly successful pilot led by the KPMG Foundation, so that by 2011 30,000 six-year-olds who have difficulty reading will be getting one-to-one tuition. We will also provide support for writing in primary schools through the Every Child a Writer programme, helping teachers to ensure that they use the best teaching methods, including one-to-one coaching, in the areas of writing which primary children find hardest to master.
By 2011 we will extend one to one support to 300,000 children in English (and a further 300,000 in maths). This will ensure that many more children receive the support they need to reach their potential. The more intensive support offered through Every Child a Reader is in addition to this. Both will be of great benefit to looked after children.
Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he expects to publish in final form guidance on the ContactPoint database; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on what date he plans to publish the Governments Strategy Paper on Pay and Rewards for the Early Years and Childcare Sector; and if he will make a statement. 
Kevin Brennan: We plan to publish a Childrens Workforce Strategy Action Plan early in the new year. The Plan will set out our overall vision for the workforce and the steps that we and other stakeholders need to take to deliver this vision. The Plan will cover recruitment, retention and rewards across the whole of the childrens workforce rather than for sectors individually.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether the guidance for the disabled children's indicator of Public Service Agreement 12 will cover children's palliative care services. 
[holding answer 14 November 2007]: The indicator is currently being developed and will measure parents' experience of services and of the elements of the core offer set out in the Aiming High for Disabled Children report (May 2007). The measure will cover the families of all children with disabilities
and ask about all services provided to them by their local authority and primary care trust (PCT), including children's trusts.
Therefore palliative care services provided through these organisations will be covered by the indicator. However, the measurement of the indicator will not allow for the disaggregation of individual services.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what departmental assets are planned to be sold in each financial year from 2007-08 to 2010-11; what the (a) description and (b) book value is of each such asset; and what the expected revenue is from each such sale. 
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what departmental assets are planned to be sold in each financial year from 2007-08 to 2010-11; what the (a) description and (b) book value of each such asset is; and what the expected revenue from each such sale is. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what target his Department has adopted on the maximum time taken to respond to hon. Members correspondence; and what performance against that target was in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
Kevin Brennan: The Cabinet Office publishes guidance for Departments on Handling Correspondence from Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords, MEPs and Members of Devolved Assemblies. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House and it is also available on the Cabinet Office website at:
The Cabinet Office also publishes on an annual basis, a report on Departments and Agencies performance on handling Members and Peers correspondence. This includes the target set by each Department to reply to hon. Members, the number of letters received and the percentage of replies within target. The last report for 2006 was published by the then Minister for the Cabinet Office (Hilary Armstrong) on 28 March 2007, Official Report, columns 101-04WS.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many allegations of victimisation for whistleblowing have been reported to his Department by departmental staff since 6 June 2006. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when his Department's whistleblowing procedures were reviewed to reflect the provisions in the revised Civil Service Code. 
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many civil servants in his Department and its predecessor (a) transferred to other Government departments and (b) left the civil service in each of the last five years. 
Kevin Brennan: Detailed information on numbers of leavers and those who transferred to other Government Departments could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However the numbers of civil servants (full-time equivalents) in my Department for each of the last five years is provided in the table:
|Year( 1)||FTE staff numbers|
|(1) The numbers recorded are from April each year.|
(2) Figures for 2003-06 refer to the predecessor Department for Education and Skills.
(3 )Figures for 2007 refer to the Department for Children, Schools and Families, correct at 31 October 2007. They reflect Machinery of Government Changes in June 2007 (see background note).
Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the full-time equivalent headcount in his Department is; what the forecast full-time equivalent headcount for his Department is for (a) 2008-09 and (b) 2009-10; and if he will make a statement. 
Kevin Brennan: The full-time equivalent headcount of staff in my Department is 2,780 staff with a target headcount of 3,142 full-time equivalents for the end of 2007-08. The target was set when our overall headcount was set for the former Department for Education and Skills, before 536 staff were transferred to the new Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills as part of the Machinery of Government changes on 28 June 2007.
The Department has not yet finalised workforce forward projections for 2008-09 and 2009-10. However,
my Department will operate within a strict (and reducing year on year) running cost allocation. This is likely to impact on the overall headcount and so it is very unlikely this will lead to an increase in the numbers of people employed by the Department.
October 2006 to October 2007£7,340
The figure includes expenditure incurred by Ministers and senior departmental officials. The figure excludes costs incurred as part of official events or formal meetings held to further departmental business.
The basic rules governing hospitality are set by HM Treasury. Hospitality expenditure is limited to occasions when official business can best be transacted in that way. Personal entertainment is usually restricted to where senior managers (deputy director or above) are acting as a host and expenditure must be approved in advance by a director or executive board member.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families was created on 28 June 2007 as a result of a machinery of government change and the expenditure recorded includes that of its predecessor Department, the Department for Education and Skills. The expenditure will also include any costs incurred by the newly created Department for Universities, Innovation and Skills, where these costs relate to areas formerly the responsibility of the Department for Education and Skills.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on what dates his Department breached its (a) resource, (b) near-cash, (c) administration and (d) capital budgets; what the value of each breach was; and what the reason was for each breach. 
Kevin Brennan: The budgets for the Department of Children, Schools and Families will be set, subject to parliamentary approval, in the Winter Supplementary Estimate to be laid before Parliament on 15 November 2007.
In terms of the predecessor Department for Educations and Skills there have been no breaches of the main departmental budgets in the last five years. There have been breaches of the resource AME budgets for the Teachers Pensions Scheme in 2001-02 (£15.2 million); 2003-04 (£106.8 million) and 2006-07 (£81.6 million) due to the difficulty in predicting, in the Spring Supplementary, the actuarial valuation of the scheme. This valuation is received after the end of the financial year.
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