The first decade of the twenty-first century has seen extraordinary changes in policy and practice relating to children’s services, encapsulated in the Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda. In order to be able to evaluate how integrated children’s services are functioning and evolving, it is important to have an understanding of the historical context that has brought this about. There have been two main drivers which brought us to ECM and to the current reforms we are witnessing in children’s services. The first is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the seismic shift in perspectives on children’s status in society that it brought about. The second is a number of high-profile child deaths, notably Maria Colwell in 1973, Jasmine Beckford in 1984 and Victoria Climbié in 2000, which shook the nation and exposed catastrophic failings in the way children’s services were operating. Similarly, high-profile homicides by individuals with mental health conditions drew attention to the need to review mental health policy (see Appleby et al., 2001). The government was galvanized to instigate sweeping reforms that collectively formed Every Child Matters: Change for Children (DfES, 2004). ECM is an ambitious agenda which seeks to ensure that every child, irrespective of background or circumstances, is enabled and supported to live a happy and fulfilled childhood, personified in the five intended outcomes: be healthy; stay safe; enjoy and achieve through learning; make a positive contribution to society; and achieve economic wellbeing.
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