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

700 nurseries 'inadequate'

N. Allen

Daily Telegraph, May 29th 2008, p.2

Almost 700 independent nurseries failed to meet the standards required by Ofsted in 2007, leading to fears that children may be exposed to injury or neglect. A total of 693 out of 11,630 independent nurseries were classed as inadequate in 2007/08. These figures raise concerns about the quality of provision outside of the state sector.

Can I, should I, must I take this baby into care?

A. Norman

Professional Social Work, May 2008, p. 12-13

The author examines the legal and ethical imperatives at work in the case of Baby K, the Nottingham baby at the centre of significant controversy when removed from its 18-year-old mother shortly after birth in February 2008. The child was removed by social workers without a court order and against the will of the mother. This article sets out a framework for legal, ethical and professional practice, emphasising the presumption against removing a child from its parents.

Care proceedings: an analysis of the new system in place


ChildRight, issue 246, 2008, p. 11-13

This article describes the Public Law Outline, a new case management tool that will be applied in the family courts in care and supervision order proceedings. Its purpose is to try and improve the process and avoid undue delay to the child. It replaces the Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Children Act Cases, introducing simpler and more streamlined court procedures and reducing the number of key stages from 6 to 4.

Child deaths: the bigger picture

A. Taylor

Community Care, May 29th 2008, p. 18-19

Child death overview panels were launched in April 2008 in England to scrutinise deaths from all causes in a bid to identify patterns and inform preventative policies. The panels consist of a set of public sector experts who will analyse information gathered about the child before and immediately after the death. The panels have their own chairs but are accountable to the chair of the local safeguarding children board.

Childhood obesity: bringing children's rights discourse to public health policy

J. Greenway

Community Practitioner, vol. 81, May 2008, p. 17-21

The government has developed a raft of public health policies and new initiatives to tackle the problem of childhood obesity. However the issue is complex and requires a preventative strategy to be implemented at a number of levels by a range of groups including families, schools, the food industry, town planners, transport agencies and the media. With so many groups involved, there is a danger of a fragmented approach with each group developing policies and initiatives in isolation. This article explores the way in which a rights-based approach could be used to articulate the issue of childhood obesity and provide a focus for the groups involved, directing each to meet the overall needs of children with policies that support their health and well being.

Children, families and communities: creating and sustaining integrated services

P. Broadhead, C. Meleady and M. Delgado

Maidenhead: Open University and McGraw-Hill Education, 2008

This book draws on the work of Sheffield Children's Centre, a well-known community cooperative which is recognized worldwide for its cutting edge approach and models of good practice that have emerged from community participation. Gaining an insight into the work of the Centre contributes to a better understanding of the challenges, issues, difficulties and opportunities which confront integrated services for children and families. The book illustrates how, through working closely with the local community and through hearing the voices of children and adults, service provision for children and families can meet needs and change lives. It has particular resonance with the multi-professional agendas now required by Every Child Matters and the Children Act (2004) and is groundbreaking in terms of re-thinking support for communities perceived to be 'in difficulty', fostering community cohesion and promoting active participation in community regeneration from a childcare perspective, working from grassroots upwards.

Children in care: the way ahead

R. Chandiramani (editor)

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 30th-May 6th 2008, supplement, 21p

This special supplement investigates whether the government's latest initiatives will improve outcomes for children in local authority care. It covers:

  1. provision of private tutoring
  2. creation of budgets which social workers can use to buy goods and services for looked after young people
  3. the pilot scheme for the establishment of independent social work practices from which local authorities could commission services
  4. out-of-area placements
  5. the activities of virtual head teachers in 11 authorities tasked with improving the education of children in care.

Faith matters: the way forward for child protection in churches

D. Pearson

ChildRight, issue 246, 2008, p. 30-32

African churches are reported to be the fastest growing faith group in the UK. There needs to be engagement with these emerging churches so that they understand the importance of implementing safeguarding measures and that training and support are available. Suspicion of local statutory and voluntary agencies needs to be broken down and replaced with mutual trust and understanding.

Fears for children at risk as care order applications fall by a third

R. Bennett

The Times, May 6th 2008, p. 8

Figures seen by The Times suggest that since the introduction of the Public Law Outline designed to cut costs and speed up care proceedings, the number of applications to take children into care has dropped by 30 per cent. This figure has been used to suggest that local authorities are struggling with the new system which requires them to carry out extensive 'preproceedings' work before an application for a care order can be made.

Grooming: myth and reality of child sexual exploitation

A. Kosaraju

ChildRight, issue 246, 2008, p. 14-17

This article analyses sexual exploitation of girls by individual and networks of pimps in the UK. It concludes that child sexual exploitation is a child protection issue requiring quick and effective intervention by all agencies with safeguarding responsibilities. It should be prioritised locally and nationally and be core to the activities of police and local safeguarding children boards. Some elements of an effective response include:

  • Having lead professionals on sexual exploitation in each local authority
  • Adopting a multi-agency approach to intervention
  • Introducing mechanisms to facilitate early identification of girls at risk
  • Using integrated support plans for children and families
  • Introducing protocols for information sharing within and across agencies and local areas with trained inter-agency staff teams.

Invisible children: supporting the children of prisoners

S. Salmon

ChildRight, issue 246, p. 26-28

The numbers of prisoners who are parents of dependent children are not collected by the Prison Service, but a working estimate of 160,000 children with a parent in prison is often used in research. In spite of the large and growing numbers of children affected, only 2% of local authorities mention this group in their Children and Young People's Plans. Due to the failure of the statutory sector to recognise the problem, services for this group are rare. This article calls for relevant data on all children with a parent in prison to be collected and recorded. These children must be officially recognised as a vulnerable group and policies and practice developed to meet their needs. The Prison Service also needs to provide opportunities for imprisoned parents to have a meaningful relationship with their children.

Is the state against fatherhood?

J. Gerard

Public Policy Research, vol.15, Mar-May 2008, p. 53-55

The author argues that the family courts are strongly biased against fathers in disputed child custody cases following divorce. He says that 'the only fatherly involvement sought by the state once a relationship ends is a maintenance cheque', while the courts assume that mother and child are inseparable. Even when fathers do share in child rearing following relationship breakdown, they are denied access to benefits such as working tax credit, child benefit and child tax credit, leading to financial hardship.

A model of child protection supervision for school health practitioners

J. White

Community Practitioner, vol.81, May 2008, p. 23-27

Recent child protection scandals have demonstrated that supervision is the key to sound and effective practice in child protection. School health practitioners have a vital role to play in the prevention and early identification of child abuse. In 2005 a steering group was set up in Westminster Primary Care Trust to review child protection supervision systems for school health practitioners. The steering group decided to move toward group supervision based on an action learning sets model. In addition, mini 'one-to-one' meetings are arranged for school health professionals who have been in post for over a year. Results from an evaluation indicate that this combination of group and one-to-one supervision is working well, with practitioners stating that they feel more confident in relation to child protection and clearer about their role.

Open door to better assessments

P. Stephenson

Community Care, May 1st 2008, p. 20-21

All professionals working in children's services should have begun using the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) to assess the youngsters' additional needs and decide how they are going to be met by March 2008. This standardised approach was intended to simplify the process and identify and meet needs earlier. These aims are being met by those who have been using the CAF, but progress towards the whole workforce being able to operate it is patchy.

Parents still turn to family and friends for childcare despite new nursery places

R. Bennett

The Times, May 30 2008, p. 32

A study conducted by the national Centre for Social Research has found that the Government's childcare strategy has not had as much impact as intended, particularly in relation to the most disadvantaged children. Cost remains an important barrier to the use of childcare for some parents meaning that the number of families turning to grandparents, aunts and even neighbours for help with childcare is on the increase.

Plea for 5,000 foster parents as children wait in homes

R. Bennett

The Times, May 20th 2008, p. 20

Research by the Fostering Network indicates that local authorities need at least 5,250 foster carers to come forward this year to care for children who cannot be looked after by their families. The shortage is thought to be most acute in Manchester and the North West of England, but London, East Anglia and the South East also have severe shortages.

The power to shape decisions? An exploration of young people's power in participation

R. Gunn

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol. 16, 2008, p. 253-261

The participation of children and young people in social care decision making in England is now widely accepted, supported by statute and enhanced by practice guidance. Current research focuses on whether their participation actually changes the decisions reached by social services. Drawing on data from stakeholder interviews in three English social services departments, the author uses Levin's model of power in political decision-making to quantify what type of power young people can exercise in decision-making in welfare agencies.

Pressure grows for guardians to protect trafficked children

R. Booth

The Guardian, May 14th 2008, p. 14

Politicians from the three main parties are putting pressure on Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, to stop hundreds of foreign children, many the suspected victims of child trafficking, from being kidnapped from care in Britain and exploited.

Services fail on the cusp of adulthood

B. Cook

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 30th-May 1st 2008, p. 13

There are concerns that young people aged 16-17 fall into a gap between children's and adult health and social services. There are particular difficulties with learning disabilities, mental health, housing and offender management services.

Social workers' failings 'put children at risk'

R. Ford

The Times, 9th May 2008, p.9

An Ofsted inspection of social services in the South East region has uncovered a waiting list of 150 cases involving the welfare of children in divorce and separation cases. The inspection of the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass) in Kent, Surrey and Sussex found that in some cases, the reports used to decide which parent a child should live with were 'illegible'.

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