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

The best interests of the child in healthcare

S. Elliston

London: Routledge, 2007

The volume considers how the best interests test has been developed and interpreted in legal cases concerning medical care of children, and seeks to highlight the potential difficulties inherent in its use. Comprehensively covering both the English and Scottish position within the context of the European Convention of human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the book examines a wide range of healthcare situations, from the commonly occurring to the unusual, offering a detailed analysis of legislation, case law, cases and their implications. It includes discussions on:

  • the extent to which a child's body can be examined, operated on and affected by medicines, devices or procedures intended to bring about medical change
  • the appropriate scope of parental choice and authority and at what stage of their development children should be allowed to make their own decisions
  • the response to situations where the interests of children may be in conflict – the cases of conjoined twins or the donation of organs to siblings.

Britain fails child asylum seekers

S. Cassidy

The Independent, March 7th 2008, p. 14

According to a report by the Children's Commissioner for England, unaccompanied children who have fled persecution abroad to seek asylum in Britain are being left isolated and lacking in adequate support in relation to health and education.

Child poverty: can local authorities meet the challenge?

D. Gibbons and F. Husain

Working Brief, Feb. 2008, p. 4-5

Local authorities are being given a greater role in tackling child poverty. The government's new performance framework for local authorities and local authority partnerships sets out a list of 198 national performance indicators that will form the basis of negotiations for new Local Area Agreements coming into effect in July 2008. Included in this national set is a specific indicator for reducing child poverty (number 116). Moreover, the new Comprehensive Area Assessment for local authorities will compel them to consider the quality of life available to all residents in their area. This will force them to take action on child poverty within their communities.

Child poverty goal ‘unlikely' to be met

C. Giles

Financial Times, March 14th 2008, p. 2

Despite a Budget geared to reducing child poverty, the Institute of Fiscal Studies says the government will need £3bn more to meet its target of halving child poverty by 2010.

Children being robbed of their innocence, says former laureate

A. Rajan and I. McSmith

The Independent, March 3rd 2008, p.5

Former children's laureate, Jacqueline Wilson, claims UK children behave like adults at an early age. Her remarks echo the findings of a survey of more than 1,000 parents which paints a picture of children in modern Britain as being more grown-up than ever before, with teenage pregnancy rates being the highest in Western Europe. In addition, 71% percent of parents said they allowed their children to drink alcohol at home, 53% percent let their children stay out past 11pm and 57% allowed them to watch 18-certifcate films.

(See also The Times, March 3rd 2008, p. 29; The Guardian, March 3rd 2008, p. 10 & 28; The Times, March 4th 2008, p. 15)

A farewell to ring fencing

S. Vevers

Community Care, Feb. 28th 2008, p. 16-17

The government has extended the Children's Fund for three years to 2011, but the money will no longer be ring-fenced. Instead it will be routed through councils, with no guarantee that existing preventative projects run by voluntary organisations will be safeguarded. Schemes will be commissioned by their local children's trust instead of accessing funding through a Children's Fund partnership.

For love or money? Pay, progression and professionalism in the “early years” workforce

G. Cooke and K. Lawton

Institute for Public Policy Research, 2008

This research shows that the majority of nursery staff end their training having passed GNVQ level 3, the equivalent of an A-level, and do not pursue courses at university level. Levels of education among staff at private nurseries were found to be much lower than among those teaching at government-funded nurseries attached to schools. More than 80% of employees at school-based nurseries were educated beyond secondary school level.

Girls missing from school ‘at risk of forced marriage'

Home News in Brief and J. Smith

The Independent, March 6th 2008, p.4 and p.37

The Government is investigating 14 areas of England where youngsters are at risk of forced marriages after officials in Bradford admitted that 33 girls are still missing from the city's educational roll despite concerted efforts to find them.

(See also The Independent, March 12th 2008, p.21)

Going full circle? Integrating provision for young people in the Connexions service

K. Artaraz

Social Policy and Society, vol. 7, 2008, p. 175-183

The Connexions service established by the New Labour government was intended to provide a 'one-stop-shop' for young people, offering confidential advice on issues such as education and training, health, personal development and careers through a network of personal advisers. The expectation was that higher levels of coordination and integration of services would lead to better user experiences and outcomes, but success has been limited. This article examines some of the issues which have affected the ability of the Connexions service to fulfil its mission. It proposes that the Connexions strategy was developed with two forms of integration in mind that have only marginally prospered: the creation of the new role of personal adviser with generic skills in youth support and the building of closer interagency links.

Granny feels it's time she was paid for taking on the role of family nanny

S. Womack

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 2nd, 2008. p. 4

A survey conducted by Saga Insurance has shown that grandparents often spend over 17 hours a month caring for grandchildren. Almost one in five of those questioned spent around 40 hours a month. Almost all respondents received no payment, but spent about £10.75 per day on food and entertainment for each child. Almost two-thirds thought that child care benefits should go towards paying them for what they do.

Increase childcare funding to tackle poverty, Brown told

C. Brown

The Independent, March 3rd 2008, p.8

A report from the Commons Select Committee on Work and Pensions has warned Gordon Brown that he risks missing his 2010 target of halving child poverty unless there is a massive increase in spending on child care for working families. The report shows that there are still 2.8 million children living in poverty and recent data indicates this number is increasing,

(See also Financial Times, March 3rd 2008, p. 2, Financial Times, March 12th 2008, p. 4)

Introducing social pedagogy into residential childcare in England

E. Bengtsson and others

Social Education Trust, NCERCC, 2008

Social pedagogy involves practitioners using their personality in interaction with young people in order to build relationships. This report evaluates a three month project which looked at ways of using pedagogic approaches in English residential child care. The project involved 30 residential child care workers and managers and five social pedagogues from Denmark and Germany. It took place in two parts of England and used different methods. One approach involved social pedagogues working alongside residential child care workers in three settings in the South. The other approach involved staff from six residential child care settings in the North West attending a series of development workshops led by social pedagogues. By the end of the project initial scepticism had been broken down, and one-third of practitioners said that they had been able to use pedagogy in their current practice and more than two-thirds said that they had a more solid understanding of the approach.


Ministers put extra effort into Sure Start

P. Curtis

The Guardian, March 5th 2008, p. 13

Following the publication of a second report, the government is set to revamp its Sure Start programme which supports children under six and their families in deprived areas. New outreach workers will be provided for the most deprived communities and all centres will be directed to do more to address the needs of ethnic-minority families.

Ministers target badly behaved children in £218m crime scheme

B. Russell

The Independent, March 19th 2008, p.19

Hundreds of children displaying anti-social behaviour will be targeted by youth workers under government plans to cut crime. Up to 1,000 of the most “challenging” youngsters will have to sign behaviour contracts under proposals unveiled by Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children.

(See also The Guardian, March 19th 2008, p. 6)

Mobility within the childcare workforce: evidence for a new policy?

J. Statham, J. Brannen and A. Mooney

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 37, 2008, p. 295-309

A key aspect of the modernisation agenda for the childcare workforce in England is to develop greater integration between the different types of work with children, and greater flexibility for workers to move within and between them. This article explores factors that might affect workers' ability and willingness to move between different types of childcare work. To do so it draws on selected findings from a three-year government-funded study which compared personal accounts of employment histories, current experiences and future intentions from four different types of worker (residential social workers in children's homes, family support workers, foster carers and community childminders). The findings indicate that the choice to engage in particular types of childcare work is often linked to factors such as life stage, preferred age of child, preferred working environment, and the worker's own background and needs. This suggests the need for more targeted recruitment, matching people to type of work, and for more attention to be paid to the connections between work and family life.

Safer children in a digital world: the report of the Byron review

T. Byron

Nottingham: DCSF Publications, 2008

The internet and video games are very popular with children and young people and offer a range of opportunities for fun, learning and development. However, there are concerns over their access to inappropriate material, including very violent games, cyberbullying and potential exposure to paedophiles. There is a generational divide which means that parents do not necessarily feel equipped to help their children in this space. However, while children are confident with the technology, they are still developing critical evaluation skills and need help to make wise decisions. The report proposes a national strategy for child internet safety which involves better self-regulation by industry and better provision of information and education for children and families. To restrict access to age inappropriate games, it is proposed that they should be classified in the same way as films

Signs of Spring in the potteries

L. Revans

Community Care, Mar. 13th 2008, p. 18-19

In 2007 a partnership led by private consultancy Serco was awarded a contract to run Stoke-on-Trent Council's failing children and young people's services. Voluntary sector partners Shaftsbury Young People and fostering agency Tact have looked at services for children in care, while private consultancy Care and Health was asked to look at safeguarding. This article reports on progress.

Skeleton service

A. Taylor

Community Care, Mar. 6th 2008, p. 18-19

Under new government plans, Liverpool, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and Solihull are considering becoming specialist authorities looking after unaccompanied child asylum seekers. However, there is concern that the funding allocated by government will be insufficient, particularly to cover leaving care costs when the young people reach the age of 18. The government also wants unaccompanied minors who are not granted asylum to have exhausted their appeal rights and been deported before they reach 18. However, given the government's poor record on returning failed asylum seekers, this could result in 18-year-olds with no recourse to public funds being left destitute.

Special guardianship: themes emerging from case law

A. Hall

Family Law, vol.38, Mar. 2008, p. 244-248

The introduction of special guardianship by the Adoption and Children Act 2002, implemented in 2005, was accompanied by much speculation about the purpose it would serve. Two years after its introduction, there is a growing body of case law to assist in understanding of judicial interpretation of the purposes of special guardianship. This article reviews these judicial decisions in respect of four key themes:

  1. the usefulness of special guardianship
  2. the purpose of special guardianship, including the types of placements for which it is appropriate
  3. its place in the permanence hierarchy relative to adoption and residence
  4. issues of support for special guardians and the ongoing role of the local authority.

Strategies for the prevention of social exclusion: an analysis of the Children's Fund

M. Barnes and K. Morris

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 37, 2008, p. 251-270

The Children's Fund was launched in 2000 and was directed at developing participative multi-agency working for preventative services for children at risk of social exclusion across the 150 local authorities in England. Funds were released on successful submission of an implementation plan by a local partnership, which typically comprised representatives from the local authority, the voluntary sector, health service, and youth justice service. This article presents case studies of strategies adopted by Children's Fund partnerships in work with marginalised groups of children.

Warning to parents over children 'being raised online'

R. Wray

The Guardian, March 25th 2008, p. 25

According to research from the Institute for Public Policy Research British children are spending more than 20 hours a week online, mainly on social networking sites. The research raises concerns about children's safety, highlighting a lack of awareness among parents and teachers as to what is being accessed by young people.

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