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'You're just treating us as informants!' Roles, responsibilities and relationships in the production of Children's Services Directories
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Professor Rob Wilson
Dr Susan Baines
Professor Mike Martin
Walsh S, Wilson R, Baines S, Martin M
Local Government Studies
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Local authorities in England are required to make directories of services available to practitioners working with children and young people. This is against a background of continuing reforms intended to ensure that services are joined-up around the needs and choices of children, young people and their families. There are high expectations that more of these services will be delivered by organisations from the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS), especially services or groups or communities that public sector agencies find hard to engage. This article reports and comments upon a regional study focusing on the production of children’s service directories involving service providers and commissioners, as well as the producers of directories, in a series of facilitated workshop activities. The study highlights tensions between local authorities and service providers around how information about services is controlled, edited and accessed. We argue that current approaches to the provision of directories are unlikely to have the transformational effects predicted by policy makers. This is partly because local authorities’ traditional position (supported by the prevailing technologies) has meant that they have tended to monopolise the roles and responsibilities which in turn maintains their control of directory content. They do so in the face of increasing dissent from new and established providers. Moreover, current models of service directories fail to meet the emerging information needs of a range of stakeholders including service providers, service commissioners and service users. In conclusion we propose some questions to improve visibility and governance in the creation and maintenance of service directories.
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