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Agencies unite for better service

Hundreds of thousands of youngsters are expected to benefit from what is believed to be Britain's first integrated service for children, schools and families.

Hertfordshire County Council has linked its education department with children's social services to form a single framework which aims to improve educational and health services.

The Children, Schools and Families (CSF) service, launched earlier this year, also aims to improve support for children and reduce the confusion for families and schools dealing with different professionals.

Ray Shostak, director of CSF, said the idea arose when senior staff in both departments started to look at the service from the child's perspective rather than just the management's.

CSF staff will work closely with colleagues in schools, health and voluntary organisations. It is aimed at all 250,000 children in the county, not just those considered vulnerable or in need.

Each child receiving CSF support will have an electronic case file containing information about his or her situation.

The service also aims to end duplication by bringing in single-case management where a case worker remains with a child throughout, and assessment and referral systems are unified.

Headteacher Gail Tolley, of Stanborough school, in Welwyn Garden City, said: "The service should co-ordinate and integrate the services and we anticipate making them more accessible to schools."

CSF services include support for children with special educational needs, advice, support and personnel services for schools and planning, school funding, IT and premises.

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