Children’s rights director voices concerns over role merger

The children’s rights director has warned that his functions and duties should not be dissolved following proposals to merge the role with the children’s commissioner for England.

Addressing the Education Select Committee, Roger Morgan said he welcomed John Dunford’s plans to strengthen the role of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and agreed with recommendations to merge the position with that of the children’s rights director.

But he warned that the activities currently conducted by the director should be protected in legislation.

“I very much welcome and endorse John Dunford’s underlining of the importance of the work, specifically for children in care and other vulnerable children,” he said.

Morgan specifically stressed the importance of Dunford’s support for the children’s rights director’s case work function, the emphasis on children’s views and the general specialism in children in care.

But he added: “My one major worry is that although John Dunford has very clearly talked about two organisations as partners merging into one, which I welcome, I do have a concern that the activities of the children’s rights director at the moment should not become subsumed or dissolved.

“There is an importance in ensuring that legislation that preserves those functions which Dunford endorses does specifically preserve the role and uniqueness of those in the same way it has in the move from the Commission for Social Care Inspection successfully to Ofsted.”

Earlier this month Dunford produced his review of the role of the Office of Children’s Commissioner, which recommended that the children’s commissioner should be given greater independence from government and should not have to consult with the Education Secretary before undertaking an inquiry.

He proposed that the commissioner should be given the power to advise government on new policies and assess the impact of new policies on children’s rights.