Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families First Report

1  Introduction

1. The Government has been consulting over policy on the care of looked-after children since the publication of the Care Matters Green Paper in October 2006.[1] The consultation on the Green Paper led to the White Paper Care Matters: Time for Change in June 2007[2], and various working groups were then established by the Government to shape proposals further. As part of this process, Children and Young Persons Bill [Lords] was introduced earlier this session to implement changes which required primary legislation.[3] In many ways this is an exemplary way for policy to be developed and implemented, and the Government is to be congratulated for a thorough and serious consultative process.

2. Following the creation of the Department for Children, Schools and Families in June 2007, this Committee came into being at the beginning of the current session. The focus of the new department is to secure "integrated children's services and educational excellence".[4] Following the example of our predecessors on the Education and Skills Committee, who did take a close interest in children's services issues following the introduction of Every Child Matters, we felt that it was important from the outset for us as a Committee to look at the broad scope of children's issues for which the new department has responsibility. We therefore decided that, as the Bill had begun its passage through Parliament in the House of Lords, it would be useful for us to examine the provisions of the Children and Young Persons Bill in advance of its consideration in the Commons. We also decided to hold a wider ranging inquiry into the care provided for looked-after children, and we will begin taking evidence in that inquiry shortly.

3. We are publishing this report and the associated evidence in large part to assist the House of Commons in its consideration of the Bill. In the following chapters we comment on a number of aspects of the Bill, but we do not comment on every issue that has been raised with us. We hope our colleagues will use both the report and the evidence that informs it in debates on the Bill in this House. References to clauses in the Bill are to the Bill as amended in Committee (on recommitment).[5]

4. We received 18 memoranda in this inquiry, and held one oral evidence session with Kevin Brennan MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families at the Department for Children, Schools and Families. We are grateful to all those who contributed.

1   Care Matters: Transforming the lives of Children and Young People in Care, Cm 6932, DfES, October 2006. Back

2   Cm 7137 Back

3   Children and Young Persons Bill [HL], HL Bill 8 (2007-08), introduced on 14 November 2007. Back

4 Back

5   HL Bill 32. Back

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