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

All work and no play? Understanding the needs of children with caring responsibilities

J. Aldridge

Children and Society, vol. 22, 2008, p. 253-264

This article draws on research with children who provide care for parents with serious mental health problems. It highlights the need to move away from popular and simplistic representations of children with caring responsibilities as victims of their parents' illnesses, little angels, or exploited informal domestic workers. Instead it advocates a rights-based approach to meeting their needs through services designed around their expressed feelings and wishes. Such an approach would fit well with current direction of child welfare policy in the UK.

Connecting with children: developing working relationships

P. Foley and S. Leverett (editors)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2008

The book focuses on how adults connect with children and develop supportive relationships. It illustrates how good communication and positive and participative relationships can be developed with children across the range of universal and specialist children's services. It draws on theory, research and practice to enable understanding of why good communication and good relationships are crucial for many important contemporary issues involving children including: children's rights, bullying, resilience, participation, and transitions.

Councils' performance remains static

J. Lepper

Children and Young People Now, June 18th-24th 2008, p. 14

Ofsted's report on the performance of local authority children's services in 2007 reveals that progress in improving outcomes for young people is slow. In some areas councils appear to be getting worse. In three of the five outcomes laid out in Every Child Matters - being healthy, staying safe and making a positive contribution to society - fewer councils achieved a good or outstanding rating than in 2006. The article concludes with comments from experts in the field.

Exploring concepts of child well-being: implications for children's services

N. Axford

Bristol: Policy Press, 2008

Policy reforms to children's services in the UK and elsewhere encourage a greater focus on outcomes defined in terms of child well-being. Yet for this to happen, we need not only a better understanding of what child well-being is and how services can improve it, but also the ability to measure child well-being in order to evaluate success. This book investigates the main approaches to conceptualising child well-being, applies them to the child population using household survey and agency audit data, then considers the implications for children's services. The book:

  • provides a clear conceptual understanding of five perspectives on well-being: need, rights, poverty, quality of life and social exclusion
  • demonstrates the value of each perspective
  • charts levels of child well-being in an inner-London community, including violated rights and social exclusion
  • sets out the features that children's services must have if they are to improve child well-being defined in these terms

Listening to children: gaining a perspective of the experiences of poverty and social exclusion from children and young people of single-parent families

J. Walker, F. Crawford and F. Taylor

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol. 16, 2008, p. 429-436

Semistructured interviews (40) and focus groups (four) were held with children of single parents in the North and South-East of England. In addition focus groups were held with children of two-parent families, as well as individual interviews with key professionals. The discussions highlighted: 1) the additional structural and social barriers faced by children in single-parent families in achieving their goals; 2) the benefits of being in a single-parent family, in the shape of freedom from violence and arguments between parents; and 3) the importance of friends and extended family economically and in provision of childcare. The authors conclude that current policy discourse promoting two-parent families as intrinsically better than one-parent families is flawed and will make life harder for children of single parents. They also argue that additional state-funded social welfare support, such as access to high quality childcare, social housing and holiday grants, that relieves pressure on single parents will make for happier children.

The mission

N. Jacobs

Community Care, June 12th 2008, p. 16-17

Reports on how the Children's Rights Alliance for England developed a project which supported a group of under 17-year-olds to carry out their own nationwide children's rights investigation. On the basis of their research, the project team developed recommendations on how the quality of life for young children could be improved. These recommendations have now been presented to United Nations officials in Geneva.

(See also Children and Young People Now, June 25th-July 1st 2008, p.22-23, ChildRight, issue 248, 2008, p. 18-20)

The Parenting Academy

J. Lepper

Children and Young People Now, June 4th-10th 2008, p. 22-23

Introduces the work of the new National Academy for Parenting Practitioners and describes the parenting support courses that it offers.

Safeguarding children: the case for mandatory training

M. Sheffield

Community Practitioner, vol. 81, July 2008, p. 27-29

Health staff coming into contact with children, young people and their families should be trained to recognise signs and indicators of abuse, and to share that information appropriately. This paper examines the legislation and guidance underpinning the statutory status of this training, and describes the introduction of a child protection training strategy into the health services in Barnsley. It identifies the level of training appropriate for all health staff, including clinical staff, non-clinical staff and volunteers.

Social workers are urged to be flexible on ethnic adoptions

R. Bennett

The Times, July 7th 2008, p. 15

The British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) has expressed concern that inflexible policies with regard to fit between the ethnicity of children in care and potential adoptive parents mean than children are spending unnecessarily long periods in care, which is known to have a number of detrimental effects. Ethnic minority children are disproportionately represented in the care system which further diminishes their chances of finding adoptive parents with an exact ethnic match.

Supporting parents to promote early learning: the evaluation of the Early Learning Partnership Project

M. Evangelou and others

Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2008 (Research report DCSF-RR039)

The Early Learning Partnership Project (ELPP) was set up in 2006 to test out ways of encouraging parents in disadvantaged families to get involved with their children's early learning to improve cognitive outcomes and prepare them for formal education. Nine voluntary organisations tested out 12 different approaches between October 2006 and March 2008. The evaluation found that the project gave parents "new skills, techniques and creative ideas" and "new confidence in their role as educators", but there was no improvement in parenting behaviours that challenged children's thinking or extended their language skills.

Sure Start: voices of the hard-to-reach

C. Coe and others

Child: Care, Health and Development, vol. 34, 2008, p. 447-453

This research aimed to look in-depth at the factors affecting the ability of four Sure Start programmes to engage with hard-to-reach populations in a multicultural Midlands city. Geo-coded data collected suggest that there were significant numbers of eligible families not accessing Sure Start services. Interview evidence suggests that, although the majority of these parents had heard of Sure Start, and many had a positive view of the programme, a significant number did not have a good grasp of what was on offer or harboured serious misconceptions about what the programme provided. Problems were compounded by other pressures facing this group of parents, such as work and other caring commitments combined with social isolation and difficulty accessing Sure Start services. The findings suggest that contacting parents early, before misconceptions arise, may be important in increasing their engagement.

Young runaways action plan

Department for Children Schools and Families, Home Office and Department for Communities and Local Government.

DCSF, 2008

The plan approaches running away as a symptom of other problems in a child's life, and emphasises that these problems should be addressed through the routine activities of children's services. To this end, the plan says that the needs of runaways will inform forthcoming guidance on bullying outside of school. Targeted youth support, schools and the government's anti-bullying peer mentoring pilots will be expected to make runaway prevention part of their work. In addition, local safeguarding children boards will be expected to develop action plans to keep young runaways safe from harm. There is also a push to get local authorities to provide more emergency accommodation for young people who run away.

URL: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/publications/runaways/downloads/YoungRunawaysActionPlan.pdf

Youth services: the national picture

J. Lepper

Children and Young People Now, June 4th-10th 2008, p. 14

The National Youth Agency's 2006/07 audit of council youth services shows that more are now hitting government targets, but improvement is patchy. Although spending nationally is up by 8% to 371m, the gap between the highest and lowest spending councils is widening.

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