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

'55 childcare for all mothers'

R. Bennett

The Times, Apr. 21 2008, p. 8

A report by the Policy Exchange has indicated that UK parents pay 70 per cent of childcare costs compared to an average of 30 percent elsewhere in the EU. The report has led the David Cameron to recommend that all mothers should be entitled to a weekly payment of 55 towards childcare costs, irrespective of their employment situation. Such a scheme would cost 5.4 billion a year and would necessitate changes to the Working-Tax Credit system.

(See also The Independent, Apr. 21 2008, p. 6)

Analysing child deaths and serious injuries through abuse and neglect: what can we learn? A biennial analysis of serious case reviews 2003-2005

M. Brandon and others

Department for Children Schools and Families, 2008 (Research report; DCSF-RR023)

This report analyses the cases of 161 children who died or suffered serious injury through abuse or neglect. The research showed that many older children had a long history of involvement with social services and specialist agencies, including adolescent mental health services and youth offending teams. Many had been offered help which they were reluctant to accept. They could also exhibit extremely challenging behaviour, resulting in services being reluctant to engage with them. As a result, at the time of the crisis leading to serious injury or death, they were receiving very little support

Child abuse and spirit possession: not just an issue for African immigrants

P. Gilligan

ChildRight, issue 245, 2008, p. 28-31

Some children are being physically, emotionally and psychologically abused as a result of the perpetrators' belief in spirit possession. Such behaviour occurs not only among African immigrants, but also in faith communities within the white majority population. There is debate about how, and the extent to which, professionals should be intervening to prevent the emotional and psychological abuse which occurs when children are accused of spirit possession, regardless of whether such accusations result in their being physically abused or neglected.

Children and Young Persons Bill [Lords]

Children, Schools and Families Committee

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers session 2007-08; HC 359)

The Bill proposes to reform the statutory framework for the care system, to ensure that children and young people receive high quality care and support and to drive improvements in the delivery of services focused on the needs of the child. It aims to enable those children and young people who enter the care system to achieve the same aspirations parents have for their own children. The Bill will:

  • Improve stability of placements for children and ensure more consistency for children in care
  • Improve the experience children in care have at school, increasing their educational attainment
  • Give pilot local authorities the power to test a different model of organising social care by commissioning services from 'Social Work Practices' and enable regulation of these practices
  • Increase the focus on the transparency and quality of care planning, to ensure that the child's voice is heard when important decisions that affect their future are taken
  • Increase schools' capacity to address the needs of children in care, including placing the role of the designated teacher on a statutory footing and ensuring that children in care do not move schools in Year 10 and 11 except in exceptional circumstances
  • Make sure that young people are not forced out of care before they are ready, by giving them a greater say over moves to independent living and ensuring they retain support and guidance as long as they need it.

The Dad deficit: the missing piece in the maternity jigsaw

Fatherhood Institute

Abergavenny, 2008

Report calls for a total of 12 key changes to involve fathers more fully and so improve the overall health of the family. These include: registration of fathers by maternity services; NHS guidance on father-inclusion; information for fathers explaining their role in smoking, breastfeeding, alcohol, mental health and baby health, dealing with relationship stress and conflict and the impact of violence in the family.


Family breakdown and peer pressures 'are making more children mentally ill'

R. Bennett

The Times, Apr. 24 2008, p. 21

A report by the Good Childhood Inquiry indicates that more than a quarter of under-16s regularly feel depressed because of the stresses of family life, friendships and school. The report is part of a two year inquiry into modern childhood commissioned by the Children's Society. The report follows a report by Unicef which concluded that Britain was one of the worst countries in the industrialised world in which to be a child.

Little Britons: financing childcare choice

C. Hakim and others

Policy Exchange, 2008

Childcare requirements are most intensive during the first three years of a child's life and these years are the focus of this report. It assesses parental preferences and reviews how state childcare is currently funded, how it supports individual families and its impact on the private and voluntary sectors. It concludes that present arrangements are not flexible enough to meet the needs of today's varied family structures and working hours. The main recommendation of the report is that state funds already earmarked for childcare provision should be used to pay parents for caring for their own children at home through a Parental Care Allowance. Parents could also use the allowance to pay for childcare of their own choice.

A problem of size: how to tackle childhood obesity

P. Gately

ChildRight, issue 245, 2008, p. 25-27

Obesity is a serious problem with multiple causes and consequences. The primary contributing factor is a biological vulnerability to a biogenic environment. Therefore improved recognition of the problem and greater acceptance of overweight and obese children underpin effective action. Whilst greater government leadership is required, the children's workforce can still take simple and effective steps to make a difference.

Promoting foster carer strengths: suggestions for strengths-based practice

T. Odell

Adoption and Fostering, vol. 32, no.1, 2008, p. 19-28

Foster families provide continuity for children in local authority care, who can develop significant attachments to their foster parents. Due to worker turnover and workloads, such continuity cannot always be provided by social workers. There is a need to find ways of better incorporating foster carers into the team which is attempting to meet the increasingly complex needs of looked after children. This article suggests a strengths-based approach to working with foster carers which might help to achieve this goal. Strengths-based practice builds on the positives in any given situation and mobilises resources that already exist within the person, family or community being served. The article presents a case study of how social workers and foster carers worked together to take a creative approach to moving a child with a history of multiple placements on to adoption.

Seeking change: reforms to the protection of unaccompanied asylum seeking children

K. Dorling

ChildRight, issue 245, 2008, p. 14-17

This article presents an overview of proposed reforms to the system for supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children. These reforms include measures to: 1) formalise the responsibilities of the Border and Immigration Agency towards the children; 2) locate unaccompanied asylum-seeking children with a small number of specialist local authorities; 3) develop specialist centres to conduct age assessments; 4) tackle child trafficking; 5) put in place procedures to return the children to their country of origin when asylum is not granted; and 6) provide support for the young people when they leave care at the age of 18. While these reforms may bring some positive developments in the protection and support of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, the conflict between immigration law and children's rights remains.

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