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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2007): Child welfare - UK

Care Matters: Time for Change - the White Paper

N. Arnold

Family Law, Nov. 2007, p. 1012-1019

This article summarises each chapter of the 2007 White Paper on the reform of services for children looked after by local authorities, covering corporate parenting, family support, care placements, education and healthcare, the transition to adulthood, and the remodelling of the children's social care workforce.

Child poverty in London: a growing crisis

D. Bascombe

ChildRight, issue 240, 2007, p. 11-13

The child poverty rate in London stands at 41% compared to 30% for the UK as a whole. In an attempt to address this issue the Greater London Authority and the borough councils set up the independent London Child Poverty Commission. In its interim report, the Commission recommended helping parents obtain paid employment through improved incentive payments and better training opportunities. Unfortunately the report fails to address the particular problems of immigrants in the capital. These are often in low paid employment, but have no recourse to public assistance such as Tax Credits.

(See also Working Brief, Oct. 2007, p. 12-13)

Every child matters: even when they are at work

T. Drury

ChildRight, issue 241, 2007, p. 20-22

The National Network for Child Employment and Entertainment is the only organisation in the UK dedicated to the development of good practice regarding school age children who work part time, or who are involved in the entertainment industry. There are over 200 pieces of legislation that affect child employment and which cause confusion and frustration, restricting opportunities for children in modern society. The government needs to address these shortcomings in the law.

Health visitors' and school nurses' perspectives on child protection supervision

C. Hall

Community Practitioner, vol. 80, Oct. 2007, p. 26-31

Health visitors and school nurses have a key role in safeguarding children and their families. Working in this sensitive area is known to increase practitioners' anxiety levels. The general literature on child protection supervision suggests that regular and proficient supervision helps practitioners to manage their stress. Findings from focus groups with six health visitors and five school nurses demonstrates that they require child protection supervision to be a challenging and structured process. This process must offer them the opportunity to reflect upon their practice with a knowledgeable supervisor. If these elements are present, then supervision is perceived as essential to their role in safeguarding vulnerable children.

The implications of US experiences with early childhood interventions for the UK Sure Start Programme

R. Gray and E. Francis

Child: Care, Health and Development, vol. 33, 2007, p. 655-663

US experience shows that early interventions can make a significant difference to the life chances of poor children. However the best known US programme, Head Start, has been dogged by concerns about quality and effectiveness. These issues have been addressed through large funding increases and more rigorous performance measures. Nevertheless concerns about both the aims of Head Start and parental involvement in management remain. The flagship UK early intervention programme, Sure Start, has expanded rapidly and this expansion is planned to accelerate. Current funding levels seem adequate, while systematic evaluation procedures have been built in. Concerns have been raised about the implications of planned expansion for funding levels, for quality and for the ability of parents to retain significant involvement in the management of local programmes. Additionally, achieving positive outcomes for the most disadvantaged families is one of the greatest challenges.

Listening to families about childcare

A Fitzpatrick

ChildRight, issue 240, 2007, p. 26-29

The research reported in this article provides insight into the experience of childcare among three parent groups: parents of disabled children, lone parents, and parents from black and minority ethnic groups in England. Having access to the right childcare can allow parents to train, study or work, improving the family's quality of life. Barriers to uptake included a lack of suitable affordable childcare places, especially for disabled children. Finding affordable weekend and evening provision was particularly difficult and adversely impacted on a parent's ability to work.

Measures of future success

L. Revans, N. Valios and A.U. Sale

Community Care, Nov. 8th 2007, p. 16-18

The government has published details of a new performance management framework for social services intended to focus minds on a smaller number of national outcomes-based indicators linked to a new set of public service agreements. This article looks at targets related to the eradication of child poverty, improvement of children's mental health and well-being, and reduction of social exclusion among young people.

Not just a pretty placement

A. Taylor

Community Care, Nov. 22nd 2007, p. 16-17

The first national contract for placement of children in residential homes was published in November 2007. Although it has only voluntary status, it has been well received by both local authorities and providers and is expected to be widely used.

Parents as partners in children's early learning

P. Filippou

ChildRight, issue 241, 2007, p.13-16

The Parents, Early Years and Learning (PEAL) project was funded by the Department for Education and Skills for two years (April 2005-April 2007) with the task of gathering and assessing existing knowledge and best practice in working with parents to involve them in young children's learning. A training programme was then designed to support and inspire practitioners working in children's centres to increase parent partnership work. PEAL training has now been extended until April 2008 and will be cascaded to a wider range of early years practitioners, including childminders.

Parents with learning disabilities: the assessment of parenting ability

S.H. Bernard

Advances in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, vol. 1, Sept. 2007, p. 14-18

An increasing number of people with learning disabilities are reproducing. Under the Human Rights Act 1998 they have the same rights as others to parent their children, but many will require substantial support to do so. It is therefore important that these parents are identified early, their needs and those of their children ascertained, and appropriate, evidence-based support systems provided. It is also important to have systems in place to identify parents who cannot, even with skilled support, meet their child's needs. This review concentrates on the identification and assessment of risk factors for poor parenting, and addresses the role of mental health services in this process.

Permanence planning in Northern Ireland: a development project

G. Kelly and others

Adoption and Fostering, vol. 31, no. 3, 2007, p. 18-27

This paper discusses a permanence planning project in a Northern Ireland Health and Social Services Trust. The project was introduced in recognition of the damage that delays in freeing children for adoption was doing to them, in that it trapped them in a series of short-term foster care placements. It recruited and trained a group of dual approved carers, ie approved as both foster carers and adopters, who would foster children where initial assessment indicated that their prospects for a return to their birth families were poor. These foster parents could and would be willing to become a child's adopters should return home not be possible. In the lifetime of the scheme, no children placed with such carers have returned to their birth families, all were adopted and no placements have subsequently broken down.

Prepare for the dock

A. Taylor

Community Care, Nov. 1st 2007, p. 16-18

From April 2008, a new protocol for family courts will change the way that care proceedings operate. Under the plans, local authorities will be expected to submit better applications to court, ensuring that all relevant assessments have been completed in advance.

Raising standards, improving outcomes: draft statutory guidance on the early years' outcomes duty

D. Stepien

ChildRight, issue 240, 2007, p. 18-20

The Childcare Act 2006, which comes into force in April 2008, places a duty on local authorities to improve the well-being of young children and reduce inequalities between them through the provision of integrated early years services. This article summarises draft statutory guidance which has been produced setting out what local authorities and their partners should do to fulfil these duties. It focuses on target setting and measuring success.

Still the poor relations? Perspectives on valuing and listening to foster carers

D. Kirton, J. Beecham and K. Ogilvie

Adoption and Fostering, vol. 31, no. 3, 2007, p. 6-17

There has long been debate about the treatment and status of foster carers, but this has gained added significance in the context of moves towards professionalisation and recognition of carers as part of the children's workforce. Drawing on quantitative survey data and qualitative material from focus groups and interviews, the authors explore from the different perspectives of supervising social workers, service managers and foster carers, the extent to which the latter are valued, listened to or regarded as colleagues by social work professionals and agencies. Results suggest that carers' sense of being valued may be linked to factors such as age, experience, health and numbers of placements provided.

Stitching a deal together

M. Hunter

Community Care, Nov. 8th 2007, p. 14-15

The West Midlands has been chosen to set up one of six pilot regional commissioning units to procure residential placements for children in care and children with special educational needs. In the East Midlands a regional framework has been set up to support the commissioning of children's services, bringing together health, social services, education and voluntary agencies. Councils that collaborate across their region in this way can drive up quality and push down costs.

Traveller, gypsy and Roma children: addressing inequalities

I. Pona

ChildRight, issue 241, 2007, p. 17-19

Traveller, gypsy and Roma children experience discrimination and bullying, inadequate accommodation provision, eviction, difficulties with access to education and poor educational achievement. Some of these issues require urgent action. Safeguards need to be introduced to protect children from the stress and disturbance of evictions. Racial equality legislation should be better enforced to protect children from experiences of discrimination.

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