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

Advice for parents on sensible drinking for children

R. Ford

The Times, Jun. 2nd 2008, p. 15

Parents are to be issued with official government guidance telling them what age their children can start drinking. Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, is to produce the guidelines in response to mounting concern at the extent of under-age drinking in public and the extent of binge drinking among the young.

(See also The Independent, Jun. 2nd 2008, p. 3 & 24)

Black African children and the child protection system

C. Bernard and A. Gupta

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 38, 2008, p. 476-492

This article presents a review of the available literature on the social circumstances and environmental influences affecting many black African families involved in the child protection system; specific parenting practices and care giving environments; and their experiences of social work interventions aimed at safeguarding African children. The review highlights that multiple social, environmental and parental factors interact in complex ways to bring black African children into the child protection arena. Making professional judgments regarding thresholds of concern for African children poses a major set of challenges, and practitioners need the conceptual tools, knowledge and skills to distinguish between styles of parenting that differ from those of the majority culture, but are not necessarily harmful, and parents who seek to justify abusive behaviour on cultural grounds. Crucially, professionals have to find out what the childcare beliefs and practices are for a particular child in a particular family to identify risk and protective factors.

Children placed with kinship carers through care proceedings

S. Waterhouse, J. Hunt and E. Lutman

Family Law, May 2008, p. 435-440

This article presents messages for policy and practice arising from a study of the outcomes of kinship care. The study examined outcomes for 113 children from two English local authorities placed with kin as a result of care proceedings between 1995 and 2001, following them up in 2004/05. It concludes that:

  • More systematic exploration of the kinship option could lead to more/earlier placements
  • Kinship care can deliver safe, effective and permanent care but does not work for all children
  • Better or poorer outcomes are not solely dependent on individual circumstances; it is possible to identify some risk and protective factors
  • Assessment is important but problematic
  • The support needs of kinship placements need to be more adequately addressed
  • Kinship care facilitates the maintenance of some family links, and contact with parents is usually safe but is often difficult.

Dossier prepared for UN details grim plight of many young people in Britain

J. Carvel

The Guardian, June 9th 2008, p. 4

The Children's Commissioners for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have produced a joint report into the abuse of the human rights of children and young people in Britain. The dossier, which includes discussion of the problems associated with the juvenile justice system, physical punishment at home and the high rate of child poverty, is to be submitted to a UN review of children's rights.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Children's Plan

Children, Schools and Families Committee

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08; HC213)

This wide-ranging report looks at:

  1. the general issues raised by the creation of the new Department for Children, Schools and Families in 2007, including its complex links with other ministries and its responsibilities for co-ordinating education policy with DIUS
  2. the strengths and weaknesses of the Children's Plan
  3. pressure on the Department to improve children's services by achieving Public Service Agreement targets
  4. schools' funding
  5. delivery of the efficiency savings required by the Gershon review.

Ending poverty for all children in the UK

P. Dornan

ChildRight, issue 247, 2008, p. 14-17

The current government has committed itself to eradicating child poverty by 2020. This article summarises the government's child poverty reduction strategy, highlights its weaknesses and proposes further reforms to the benefit system. It argues that child poverty cannot be eradicated without greater public investment, increased redistribution through the benefits system, measures to tackle educational disadvantage, and giving low-income parents better access to well paid jobs.

Ethnicity, policy and teenage parenthood in England: findings from a qualitative study

J. Owen and others

Social Policy and Society, vol. 7, 2008, p. 293-305

Ethnicity has been a prominent focus of North American, but not UK, research on teenage parenthood. This article presents findings from a two-year qualitative study carried out in two Yorkshire cities and three London boroughs, focusing on observations about UK policy and practice made by staff and service managers. Interviewees were asked to describe any research findings or monitoring data of which they were aware regarding ethnicity in teenage pregnancy. They were also invited to comment on their own understanding of the needs and experiences of young parents from ethnic minority groups. The professionals' accounts suggest that norms, expectations and understandings about early parenthood do differ across neighbourhoods and communities, shaped by the interaction of factors related to class, locality and ethnic identification. Teenage parents may be married in Muslim communities, unmarried but integrated into strong family support networks in Afro-Caribbean or white working class families, or unwilling to risk missing out on motherhood. Experiences of poverty and disengagement from education usually precede teenage pregnancy. When young women are in adverse circumstances, teenage motherhood can be considered a positive lifestyle choice. The authors call on national policymakers to recognise and value these diverse parental identities and models of the life course.

Gang Bustaz

A. Mickel

Community Care, May 8th 2008, p. 20-21

There is concern about the rise of gang-related violence among teenagers. The government is investing 20m over three years to support multi-agency initiatives to tackle the problem. This article presents the views of three experts in the field on the nature of the problem, and how to enforce the law while tackling root causes.

Guardian advocate: a guardianship system for unaccompanied children

K. Dorling

ChildRight, issue 247, 2008, p. 11-13

Each year 3,000 unaccompanied children arrive in the UK and claim asylum. These children then enter a highly complex legal process and often face difficulties accessing social services support and care. This article calls for the introduction of a system of guardians and/or legal representatives to look after their interests.

Helping children GP-style

D. Hayes

Community Care, May 22nd 2008, p. 14-15

A new model for working with children in care is to be tested by a handful of English local authorities. Under the plans, councils will be able to contract out services for looked after children to GP-style practices run by registered social workers. Councils will retain statutory responsibility for children looked after by the practices, as well as adoption services and the independent reviewing officer role, while Ofsted will assess practice performance.

Licensed to hug: how child protection policies are poisoning the relationship between the generations and damaging the voluntary sector

F. Furedi and J. Bristow

Civitas, 2008

The use of Criminal Records Bureau checks to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults has created an atmosphere of suspicion and is poisoning relations between the generations. Parents, many of whom are volunteers at sports and social clubs, now find themselves regarded as potential child abusers. Many adults are now reluctant to help a child in distress or tell off one that is misbehaving for fear of the consequences. The situation is likely to get worse when the Independent Safeguarding Authority is launched in 2009 and any adult who comes into contact with children under 16 through work or voluntary activities will have to be vetted.

Ministers risk missing key Labour target

A. Seager

The Guardian, June 11th 2008, p. 6

Government figures have revealed that child poverty in Britain has increased for the second year in a row, making the achievement of Labour's pledge to halve it by the end of the decade an unlikely prospect. The number of children living in relative poverty has risen by 100,000 in the last year.

(See also The Independent, June 9th 2008, p. 6)

Ofsted, CAFCASS and the courts: the new private law equation

B. Cantwell

Family Law, May 2008, p. 441-445

In April 2007 responsibility for the inspection of the Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) was transferred to Ofsted. The report on the first inspection of a CAFCASS region (East Midlands) contained swinging criticisms of the service. The author argues that the arrival of Ofsted as regulator puts a set of potentially conflicting demands on CAFCASS, in part because Ofsted appears to base its scrutiny on a number of questionable assumptions. The most notable of these is that CAFCASS is service-user led, rather than directed by court order.

Payments to tackle child poverty

P. Wintour

The Guardian, June 23rd 2008, p. 13

The government is proposing one-off payments of 200 for families that are failing to take advantage of services like health jabs and help with parenting offered by the Sure Start scheme. The payments will be available to parents of children under five and is aimed at those families described by the government as 'hard to reach' who are most in need of assistance but do not take full advantage of what is currently available.

(See also The Independent, June 23rd 2008, p. 5)

Put on ICS?

M. Bell and others

Community Care, June 5th 2008, p. 18-19

The Integrated Children's System (ICS) provides a conceptual framework, a method of practice and a business process to support practitioners and managers in undertaking assessment, planning, intervention and review. It is designed to be supported by an electronic case record system to help frontline staff record, collate, analyze and output the information required. This article reports findings of a study of four local authorities which piloted the new system between 2004 and 2006. Staff were finding the system too difficult and time-consuming to use, resulting in the output of poor and inaccurate information.

Super-ASBOs fail to gain respect

T. Lloyd

Children and Young People Now, May 28th- June 3rd 2008, p. 20-21

Less than 10% of ASBOs have Individual Support Orders (ISOs) attached to them, although these are supposed to tackle the underlying causes of antisocial behaviour. Reluctance among Youth Offending Teams to apply for ISOs seems to stem from the fact that they are court orders and it is compulsory to adhere to their conditions. Preventive work is more likely to be effective if young people engage with programmes voluntarily.

Walking the social work beat

C. Williams

Community Care, May 15th 2008, p. 20-21

This article looks at the role of volunteers in child protection services. It describes a scheme pioneered by Community Service Volunteers which matches volunteers with families whose children are on the 'at risk' register. The volunteers help out with day-to-day tasks and lend a sympathetic ear to family concerns. The scheme was successfully piloted in Sunderland and Bromley.

Where are all the men?

S. Learner

Children and Young People Now, May 28th- June 3rd 2008, p. 22-23

Only 2% of staff working in nurseries are men according to official figures. This is attributable to low pay and status, a perception that looking after young children is women's work, and suspicions that men seeking to work with small children may be paedophiles.

Youth Alcohol Action Plan

Department for Children, Schools and Families, Home Office and Department of Health

London: TSO, 2008 (Cm 7387)

Presents proposals for stopping teenagers drinking to excess and damaging their health:

  • Police are to be given powers to disperse groups of youths found drinking in a public place
  • A new offence is to be created of persistent possession of alcohol in a public place by under 18-year-olds
  • The Chief Medical Officer is to develop guidelines on how much teenagers should drink, which could lead to the age at which they can be given alcohol being raised.
  • More children are to be sent into shops to try to catch those selling alcohol to minors
  • An advertising campaign waning of the dangers of alcohol will be targeted on 11- to 15-year-olds.

Youth mentors: what works?

A. Gulland

Children and Young People Now, June 11th-17th 2008, p. 22-23

This article introduces the work of the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation, which runs the approved provider standard. This standard is a national 'kite mark' supported by the Cabinet Office and the Department for Children, Schools and Families for organisations that provide volunteer mentoring. To win approved provider status, organisations have to ensure that their programme has clear procedures for identifying and preparing mentees, as well as for recruiting and screening mentors. Support for mentors is also important, as are systems for measuring effectiveness.

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