Voluntary sector feels least valued member of children's trusts

The voluntary sector feels it is the least influential and valued member of children’s trusts, the arrangements designed to oversee local planning of children’s services.

A review of the effectiveness of children's trusts by the Audit Commission found 97 per cent of trusts had voluntary organisation representatives.

But a survey of third sector representatives by the local government spending watchdog found they believed they are the least valued and influential of all the agencies involved in trusts.

Other agencies represented on children's trusts include local authorities, the police, schools and primary care trusts.

Umbrella body NAVCA said the Are we there yet? review confirmed its suspicions about the sector's involvement with children's trusts.

"It is disappointing but not a surprise that the Audit Commission has found that trusts are not sufficiently engaging with the third sector," said Neil Cleeveley, NAVCA's director of policy and communications.

"Statutory bodies need to reach out to third sector organisations and tranform the way services are delivered. All too often, they have just made structural changes but continued to deliver services in the same way."

The Audit Commission said children's trusts should do more to involve voluntary organisations and minimise bureaucracy that could hamper the sector's involvement.

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