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Keeping them safe

"Children should be healthy, safe, enjoy school and achieve whilst they are there, make a positive contribution to society and achieve economic well being."

These fine aims are at the heart of the new Act, which follows a series of inquiries triggered by the death four years ago of abused eight-year-old Victoria Climbie.

In future children's services will be located as close as possible to the families who use them. Social workers, health professionals and others will share information and co-operate.

The new arrangements cover youngsters up to age 18, and may include provision for those up to age 25. At local authority level services will be co-ordinated by Children's Trusts. New neighbourhood children's centres will offer a "one-stop shop" for pre-school children, where parents get childcare, education, health, employment and parenting support.

Timetable for change

May 2005 - integrated inspection framework issued.

September 2005 joint area reviews in September.

April 2006 Every local authority to produce a children and young people's plan, followed by arrangements to pool budgets for children's services.

2006 Most local authorities to have children's directors in place 2008 Every local authority to have children's trusts.

See the special supplement What is education for?

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