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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2008): Child welfare - UK

Childcare, choice and social class: caring for young children in the UK

C. Vincent, A. Braun and S.J. Ball

Critical Social Policy, vol. 28, 2008, p. 5-26

This paper is based on two qualitative research projects which explored the childcare options and choices of professional middle class and working class parents in two areas of London. It discusses the key importance of social class in shaping parents' differential engagement with the childcare market and their understandings of the role childcare plays in their children's lives. The research shows how choice of childcare is limited for working class families by their dependency on tax credits to cover costs. It also reveals different understandings of appropriate care, possibly linked to working class mothers' perception that the development of their children can be most effectively overseen by professional carers. It is also argued that working class mothers have smaller social networks than their middle class peers, meaning that they can lose out on the transmission of 'hot knowledge' regarding childcare and schools, as well as on sources of friendship and support. Finally, it was noted that all mothers, regardless of class, find it difficult to form productive relationships with carers.

Children's participation and the promotion of their rights

C.M. Lyon

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, vol. 29, 2007, p. 99-115

This article aims to consider the UK government's current attitudes to children's rights in the UK and to question the concentration by central and local government on the more ephemeral rights conferred by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) rather than on promoting the legal rights of children based on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It explores the limitations arising from the fact that the UNCRC, unlike the ECHR, is not enshrined in UK law. It calls on the government to engage children and young people in more meaningful participation in policymaking than that offered by online consultations that do not reach any significant part of the population under 18 and which can therefore be regarded as merely tokenistic.

Don't call us: more support is needed for child telephone helplines

B. Gallagher

ChildRight, issue 242, 2007/08, p. 12-13

Services for abused children, such as the telephone helpline Childline, are seriously under-resourced. Currently Childline is able to answer only 57% of the calls it receives. The author argues that this is because society has become immune to children's needs, focuses on treatment rather than prevention, and is fixated with perpetrators rather than victims.

Early prevention of conduct disorder: how and why did the North and Mid Wales Sure Start study work?

J. Hutchings, T. Bywater and D. Daley

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 2, Aug. 2007, p. 4-11

Anti-social behaviour among children is a large and increasing problem that has become an important political issue in the UK. Both government and local service providers are becoming aware of the possibility of improving child outcomes through the delivery of parenting programmes. However programmes sometimes fail to work in specific service settings. This article presents a case study of the successful delivery of the Incredible Years Basic Parenting Programme to parents of high risk children in deprived areas of North and Mid Wales. It emphasises the need to choose an evidence-based programme, implement it with fidelity and evaluate the outcomes.

Early years services in Britain, 1997-2007: a quiet revolution?

T. Smith

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 2, Aug. 2007, p. 26-38

This article explores whether the New Labour government's record in tackling child poverty and improving children's life chances through its early years policies could be described as a transformation of services rather than just their expansion through a collection of initiatives. Since 1997 there has been heavy investment in children's services such as Sure Start and the Neighbourhood Nurseries Initiative focused on the most disadvantaged areas, leading to a modest increase in take-up by low-income families. Research has demonstrated that such good quality early years provision does improve children's life chances. However there are concerns that early years services may be unsustainable in the most disadvantaged areas without continued public funding. Programmes also need to be developed further to reach the most excluded groups, such as ethnic minorities and families of disabled children.

An examination of adoption support services for birth relatives and for post-adoption contact in England and Wales

C. Sellick

Adoption and Fostering, vol. 31, no. 4, 2007, p. 17-26

There has been little research into support needs of and related service delivery to, the birth relatives of children who have been adopted, although they now have a legal entitlement to receive such support and services. This article reports the results of a survey which aimed to map birth relative support services and services supporting post-adoption contact following these changes in policy and legislation. The survey found that good opportunities exist for forming links between separate birth relative and contact support services. However, real challenges remain in promoting support services and reaching alienated birth relatives with often chaotic lives and in funding and commissioning such services, particularly from the non-governmental sector.

Laming: the verdict five years on

S. Gillen

Community Care, Jan 17th 2008, p. 16-17

Five years after the publication of Lord Laming's report into the social work failures that contributed to the death of Victoria Climbié, this article looks a progress in implementing his key proposals on improvement of information sharing among professionals, replacement of the Child Protection Register, and creation of clearer lines of accountability within organisations concerned with child welfare.

'More adoptions, more quickly': a study of social workers' responses to the Adoption and Children Act 2002

T. Sagar and E. Hitchings

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, vol. 29, 2007, p. 199-215

Following exposure of abuse of looked after children in residential homes, the New Labour government introduced reforms aimed at ensuring that more children in care were adopted more quickly. This article presents data from interviews with field social workers to give insight into the impact of these reforms. Social workers questioned whether adoption is the best solution for many looked after children. They regarded adoption as meeting the needs of the adopters rather than those of the child and pointed out that lay adopters are not equipped to meet the needs of psychologically damaged children from the care system. There is a need for more training for potential adopters, and for more use of other means of providing looked after children with a stable home, such as special guardianship or long-term fostering.

The price of privacy

S. Harman

Family Law Journal, Dec. 2007/Jan. 2008, p. 21-24

Following a recent government consultation on increasing transparency while safeguarding privacy in family proceedings, the author makes the case for greater openness. While she concedes that allowing the media free access to the family courts faces overwhelming opposition from judges and family lawyers, she calls for a relaxation of the laws which prevent parties and lawyers from discussing cases outside of the court room.

Proceeding on better lines

A. Douglas

Community Care, Jan. 24th 2008, p. 22

The Public Law Outline to be launched in April 2008 is a judicial protocol designed to improve the process of taking children into local authority care. It emphasises the importance of strong judicial management throughout a case; of narrowing the issues in dispute and seeking to resolve them at an earlier stage; of reducing the amount of written material and oral evidence; and of introducing a pre-proceedings gate keeping regime to ensure that local authority cases are better assessed prior to an application to court being made.

Thinking about paired and shared key caring

S. Thomas

Early Years, Spring 2008, p. 8-9

Establishment of a key worker approach to every child in early years settings will become a legal requirement from September 2008. Introduction of paired and shared key caring would meet this legal obligation, while providing real benefits to children, practitioners and parents.

What's the use of residential childcare? Findings of two studies detailing current trends in the use of residential childcare in Scotland

G. McPheat, I. Milligan and L. Hunter

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 2, Aug. 2007, p. 15-25

This article summarises research evidence on the use of residential care placements for children in Scotland. Children are often placed in residential care as an emergency measure for short periods of time. Children who are admitted are often younger than those whom the residential units expect to receive and may have been separated from siblings taken into care at the same time. The findings raise significant concerns about whether residential placement is being used in a planned way as a positive choice as advocated in policy documents.

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