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In 2003, the green paper (a preliminary report on proposals for a new law to be discussed in Parliament and precursor to a White Paper) Every Child Matters was published by the Government.
It was published alongside the formal response to the report into the death of Victoria Climbié, a young girl killed by her great aunt and a man with whom they lived.
There were four key themes in the green paper, all of which had the aim of strengthening preventative services.
The green paper prompted public debate and wide consultation with people working in children's services, and with parents, children and young people.
The Government then published Every Child Matters: The Next Steps, and passed the Children Act 2004, providing the legislative basis for developing more effective and accessible services focused around the needs of children, young people and families.
Every Child Matters: Change for Children was published in November 2004 and a dedicated website was launched soon afterwards.
Aims of Every Child Matters
Every Child Matters also outlined new ways of working for children. It emphasised collaborative working between organisations involved with providing services to children; from hospitals and schools, to police and voluntary groups. It also increased the focus on children and young people themselves, having far more say about issues that affect them as individuals and collectively.
Outcomes of Every Child Matters
At present, local authorities are working with their partners, through children’s trusts, to find out what works best for children and young people in each individual area. In making changes they will need to involve children and young people in this process. When inspectors assess how local areas are doing, they will listen especially to the views of the children and young people themselves.
In March 2005, the first Children's Commissioner for England, Professor Al Aynsley-Green, was appointed to give children and young people a voice in government and in public life. Working within the framework of the five Every Child Matters outcomes, the Commissioner will pay particular attention to gathering and putting forward the views of the most vulnerable children and young people in society, and will promote their involvement in the work of those organisations whose decisions and actions affect them.
In addition, the Children's Fund was launched in November 2000 to tackle disadvantage among children and young people. The programme aims to identify at an early stage children and young people at risk of social exclusion, and ensure they receive appropriate help and support in order to achieve their potential.
Children's trusts now bring together all services for children and young people in an area. Underpinned by the Children Act 2004, they focus on improving outcomes for all children and young people through a process of cooperation.
Professionals will work in effective multi-disciplinary teams, be trained jointly to tackle cultural and professional divides, use a ‘lead professional’ model where many disciplines are involved, and be co-located, often in extended schools or children's centres. The trusts will be supported by integrated processes, such as the Common Assessment Framework.
The Standards for classroom teachers have recnetly been revised and are underpinned thematically by the five Every Child Matters outcomes for children and young people.