Children Act 2004

What is the 2004 Children Act?

The Green Paper, Every Child Matters, published in September 2003, outlined a programme of reform setting out a framework of services that cover children and young people from birth to the age of nineteen. The new Children Act 2004 provides the legal framework for this reform. The new legislation was accompanied by the launch of a major strategy document for English authorities, Every Child Matters: Change for Children, which is intended to set the direction for the major programme of change in the delivery of children’s services.

The Children Act 2004 places a duty on services to ensure that every child, whatever their background or circumstances, have the support they need to:

  • be healthy
  • stay safe
  • enjoy and achieve through learning
  • make a positive contribution to society
  • achieve economic well-being.

What does this mean for Children and Families?

  • Easier access to information and advice services at a local level
  • Earlier support for parents experiencing difficulties
  • Practitioners from Social Services and Education working together in teams
  • One point of contact for information and assessment
  • The statutory requirement for a Children & Young People’s Plan which will identify priorities across all organisations with a responsibility for children and young people in Cheshire. This will aim to ensure the welfare and safety of children and young people who may be at risk.

What does it mean for the Council as an organisation?

The Children Act 2004 gives a particular responsibility to Local Authorities in ensuring effective co-operation between local partners such as NHS, police, schools, district councils, Youth Offending Teams and voluntary organisations.

There are statutory partners who are required to work alongside the local authority. There are also other partners who do not have a statutory duty to co-operate with us but we will need to engage and encourage them to work with us to deliver the Children Act.

In response to the Children Act we have integrated the Education Department and the Children's branch of Social Services into a new department called Children's Services. There is also a new Community Services Department dealing with Adult and Older People Care Services.

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