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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2008): Child welfare - overseas

Child support enforcement and child poverty: a long-term perspective based on findings from the United States

C. Hanewall and L.M. Lopoo

International Journal of Public Administration, vol. 31, 2008, p. 195-210

From its inception in 1991, UK child support enforcement through the Child Support Agency has aimed to reduce social expenditures on lone parents and their children. Initially the programme used contributions from non-resident parents to offset, pound for pound, government expenditures on children paid through Income Support, leaving the children no better off. The UK programme has been heavily criticised on the grounds that it is aimed at reducing government spending on low-income families, and not on combating child poverty. However, research evidence from the United States, where a similar programme is in existence, suggests that such policies may in fact directly reduce poverty for children in lone mother households. They may also act indirectly by reducing numbers of both non-marital births and divorces.

Collaboration between mental health and child protection services: professionals' perceptions of best practice

Y. Darlington and J.A. Feeney

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 30, 2008, p. 187-198

For clients with complex health and social care needs to receive comprehensive and efficient services, workers across a range of agencies need to collaborate successfully. However, interagency work can be challenging. This paper reports findings pertaining to child protection and mental health professionals' perceptions of ways to achieve effective intersectoral collaboration in cases where there is a parent with mental illness and statutory child protection services are involved. Taken together, their perceptions reveal the need for a framework for the development and implementation of approaches to interagency collaboration that takes into account formal and informal strategies, operates at a range of levels of organisational influence, and involves several key domains of collaborative activity (namely communication improvement, knowledge base extension and resource provision).

Evaluating area-based interventions: the case of 'Communities for Children'

N. Cortis

Children and Society, vol. 22, 2008, p. 112-123

Through the Communities for Children initiative, the Australian Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs is funding lead non-government 'facilitating partners' to establish and manage local service planning and delivery with the aim of improving the well-being of children aged up to five in 45 disadvantaged communities. This article outlines how the logic and characteristics of such area-based interventions enhance the dilemmas of evaluating child and family services. The challenges of dealing with context, confounding evidence and counterfactuals are particularly difficult where initiatives are multi-site, aimed at subtle but fundamental long-term systemic change and implemented amidst a range of other initiatives and social and economic forces. This article describes how the design of the National Evaluation of the Communities for Children initiative seeks to confront these challenges.

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