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

A bold new direction for children's services in Wales

T. Donovan

Children & Young People Now, Aug. 27th-Sept. 2nd 2008, p. 14-15

Wales is starting to develop its own unique approach to children and young people's services. The Welsh government is committed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and this has resulted in a rights-based approach to improving children's services. Services are also being shaped by budgetary constraints, the decision not to merge social services with education as was done in England, and the needs of a scattered rural population.

Children 'failed by endless policies'

M. Beckford

Daily Telegraph, Sept 18th 2008, p. 12

The charity Action for Children has said that successive governments have made more than 400 major announcements relating to children over the past 21 years, leading to 98 Acts of Parliament, 82 strategies and 77 initiatives. Fewer than half of the pilot projects set up have been rolled out nationally. This endless stream of new policies has meant that children's need for stability has been ignored for the sake of short-term political gain.

Cleveland 20 years on: what have we learned about intervening in child sexual abuse?

H. Bacon

Child Abuse Review, vol. 17, 2008, p. 215-229

The Cleveland controversy arose over the disputed medical diagnosis of sexual abuse in 121 children. This article examines the main changes in approach to diagnosing and intervening in cases of child sexual abuse that have occurred since. It is argued that in many cases we will not be able to establish definitely whether or not abuse has occurred. A protective parent may be better placed to stop the abuse than an intervention by the child protection system. It is concluded that although society is now more willing to recognise the existence of child sexual abuse, and professionals are better at dealing with families, outcomes for this group of children are not much improved.

Councils take the pledge

A. Taylor

Community Care, Aug. 14th 2008, p. 16-17

Current reforms aim to involve the 60,000 children in local authority care in England in shaping the services they receive. A key element of these plans is for councils to make a pledge setting out what services looked-after children in their area will receive. This core offer could include a choice, made with a social worker, of high quality placements, access to an independent advocate, and support to maintain contact with family and friends.

Countdown to ContactPoint

B. Willis

Children and Young People Now, Sept. 3rd-9th 2008, p. 22-23

ContactPoint, the controversial new information sharing database for children, is scheduled to be launched in January 2009, when it will be trialled by 19 'early adopter' bodies. In order to make sure that information is not abused, all users will have to have enhanced Criminal Record Bureau checks and there will be an audit trail of who has accessed what data and when. There will be an additional level of security to shield a child's details when a practitioner feels that this is necessary. However, government projects that in the region of 400,000 professionals will have access to the system; it is certain that some of these will be wicked and others careless with the information.

Enhancing participation: starting the debate

Voice of the Child Sub Group, Family Justice Council

ChildRight, issue 249, 2008, p. 22-25

The degree to which it is desirable to involve children in family proceedings is a contentious issue, especially in relation to whether children are entitled to be present in court if they so wish and whether judges should see children in private during the course of proceedings. The Group proposes that the Cafcass Officer should ask all children over seven whether, and if so, how they would like to be involved in the court process and prompt the child by suggesting a range of possibilities, including attending court and speaking to the judge in private.

Every Child Matters: a five-year appraisal

A. Bennett and L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Sept. 10th-16th 2008, p. 16-17

The Every Child Matters green paper was published in September 2003. It focused action on four main areas of child welfare services: accountability and integration, early intervention, support for parents and carers, and workforce reform. Experts in the field rate its progress to date.

Forced marriages: the trail of misery and fear in Britain

J. Taylor

The Independent, Sep. 26th 2008, p. 22-23

Hundreds of children fearing for their lives have called a new national helpline set up to assist victims of forced marriages since its launch four months ago. According to the first national breakdown of callers, on average 62 victims are phoning for help every week and one in 10 is under the age of 16. The most common age of victims calling the helpline was 17, while the Eastern, Midlands and London regions accounted for 57% of all calls. Many are seeking ways to escape parents and family members who are trying to force them into unwanted marriages. Others have said they fear becoming victims of so-called 'honour killings' because of social and sexual behaviour that their community disapproves of.

Guidance on the Adoption and Children Act 2002: Re P

R. Langdale and J. Weston

Family Law, vol.38, 2008, p. 769-771

In SB v A County Council: Re P the Court of Appeal delivered an important judgment in which guidance was provided on aspects of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. The judgment clarified the test for dispensing with parental consent to adoption and placement orders, and approved the adoption agency practice of dual track planning, ie looking at foster and adoptive placements concurrently. Furthermore, the court's decision has arguably opened the door to a more interventionist judicial approach to post-adoption contact

Local government ombudsman: an effective remedy?

A. Fiddy

ChildRight, issue 249, 2008, p. 11-13

The author explains how the Children's Legal Centre utilises the Local Government Ombudsman to hold local authorities accountable when they fail vulnerable children. A recent case demonstrates that this can be an effective remedy which avoids the complainant having to deal with the stress of court proceedings.

Mothers 'should be paid to stay home with their children'

S. Cassidy

The Independent, Sep. 9th 2008, p. 19

According to a report titled The Next Generation by the think-tank Centre for Social Justice, mothers should receive financial help of up to £6000 a year to stay home and care for their babies and toddlers. The report claims nurseries fail to provide the one-to-one adult interaction children need and parents are being forced back to work by financial pressure when they would prefer to stay at home during their offspring's earliest years.

New curriculum gets under way

S. Learner and R. Smith

Children and Young People Now, Sept. 3rd-9th 2008, p. 12-13

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), the new curriculum for under-fives, came into force on September 1st 2008. It sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five and applies to all registered childminders, nurseries and crèches. The government's vision is for the early years workforce implementing the new curriculum to be led by graduates, but settings are concerned about how they will be able to pay them should support under the graduate leader fund come to an end. The EYFS has also been blamed for the drop in the number of childminders, who have left the profession rather than cope with increased regulation.

Nurturing attachments: supporting children who are fostered or adopted

K. Golding

London: J. Kingsley, 2008

The book combines the experience and wisdom of parents and carers with that of professionals to provide support and practical guidance for foster and adoptive parents looking after children with insecure attachment relationships. It gives an overview of attachment theory and a step-by-step model of parenting which provides the reader with a tried-and-tested framework for developing resilience and emotional growth. Featuring throughout are the stories of Catherine, Zoe, Marcus and Luke, four fictional children in foster care or adoptive homes, who are used to illustrate the ideas and strategies described. The book offers advice and provides exercises for parents and their children, as well as useful tools that supervising social workers can use in individual support of carers as well as in training exercises.

Ofsted plan criticised

Press Association

Financial Times, Sep. 5th 2008, p.4

Unison, the PCS and the First Division Association have launched a campaign opposing plans to privatise inspections of early education and childcare by Ofsted, warning it will hit standards and cut jobs.

Our services, our say

S. Learner

Children and Young People Now, Aug.27th-Sept. 2nd 2008, p.20-21

In a drive to achieve better outcomes for children, the government wants to see services being shaped by young people. To improve practice in this area, the government's Commissioning Support Programme will be launched in the Autumn of 2008. This article presents a case study of good practice in the London Borough of Newham, where the Council and the Primary Care Trust have extensively involved children in service planning and commissioning.

Parental learning disability and children's needs: family experiences and effective practice

H. Cleaver and D. Nicholson

London: J. Kingsley, 2007

This book explores how to effectively assess children in families where one or more parent has a learning disability. These children often have unmet needs because their parents are more likely to be coping with mental and physical illness, domestic violence or substance abuse. Parents with a learning disability face a high risk of losing their children, and current support for them is inadequate. The book, based on original research, looks into current social care practice and the support systems available to parents with learning disabilities, evaluating their effectiveness and examining their impact on the families affected. It presents many case studies and points out perceived shortcomings, along with suggestions on how to improve current social care practice and promote the welfare of children in need.

Pay day for the silent SGO army: by Lewisham Borough Council

D. Day, S. Bishop and J. Morrison

Family Law, vol.38, 2008, p. 766-768

Special Guardianship Orders came into force in December 2005 and were intended to provide a long-term care option similar to adoption, but without the absolute break with the birth family associated with formal adoption. Financial support for the special guardian will normally be part of the order. The London Borough of Lewisham had implemented a financial support package based on adoption allowances which were and remain lower than fostering allowances. This was successfully challenged by Mrs B by way of judicial review. The judgment means that local authorities will have to use fostering allowances as the starting point for financial support packages for special guardians.

Pixie-dust and privacy: what's happening to children's rights in England?

T. Dowty

Children and Society, vol. 22, 2008, p. 393-399

Advances in information technology over the past two decades have enabled children's lives to be intensively monitored. Technologies such as CCTV are increasingly used to monitor pupils' behaviour and movements at school. Parents can use a variety of tracking and location devices to monitor their children's wherabouts. In order to facilitate sharing of information between agencies and to detect early signs of problems, central government has established a system of electronic databases to store information about children's progress at school and contact with health and social services. Discussions about children's rights to privacy have been sidelined in these developments.

The poverty of policy? Gaps in anti-poverty policy for children and young people

L.N. Predelli, A. France and C. Dearden (editors)

Social Policy and Society, vol. 7, 2008, p. 471-569

Despite major policy initiatives in this area since New Labour came to power in 1997, child poverty levels in the UK are still unacceptably high. Meeting the government's target of ending child poverty by 2020 (or in effect reducing it to an acceptable level, comparable to the Scandinavian countries) is projected to cost more than £30bn. Research evidence shows that the target of abolishing child poverty cannot be met simply through a continuation of current policies. There are groups of children who are especially at risk of poverty and who merit further policy attention. These include children in families in transition (between work and no work, and from couple to lone parent families), black and minority ethnic children, disabled children and those with disabled parents, children in larger families and those leaving care. Gaps in anti-poverty policy for these groups are addressed by the articles in this themed section.

The proposed draft National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) (social competence and other fields) Order 2008

Welsh Affairs Committee

London: TSO, 2008 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08: HC 576)

The aim of the proposed Order is to confer enhanced legislative competence on the Welsh Assembly to reform the law in relation to vulnerable children and child poverty in order to:

  • rationalise and consolidate existing provisions for vulnerable children
  • reform the law to provide the legal framework for the implementation of key components of the Welsh Assembly Government's policies for vulnerable children in Wales
  • take action to place duties on public bodies to demonstrate their contribution to ending child poverty
  • create a statutory right for free child care for two year olds in greatest need

Runaway mission: helping runaway children

D. Bascombe

ChildRight, issue 249, 2008, p. 30-32

Report of an interview with Helen Southworth, MP, who is campaigning for changes in the way in which information about runaway children is handled. She aims to make it a statutory duty for information about runaway children to be collected and recorded, and calls for co-ordination among the police, local authorities and other bodies.

Safeguarding and protecting children and young people

A. Stafford and S. Vincent (editors)

Edinburgh: Dunedin, 2008

The book surveys key developments in child protection policy and systems in Scotland from 1968 until the present day. Focusing mainly on the recent period of rapid reform since 2003 these changes are examined in the context of earlier developments in systems to protect children. Where relevant, comparison is made with changes in child protection policy and practice in England and elsewhere. The book discusses the impact of the major Scottish legislation including the introduction of the Children's Hearing System. They assess the role major inquiries into child deaths have played in shaping policy and examine the effectiveness of recent arrangements designed to keep children safe from adults who may pose a danger to them. Current policy in this area focuses on meeting the needs of all children as a way of also addressing the needs of those deemed to be at most risk. The book concludes by considering what these developments might mean for the protection of children and young people who have been abused or are at risk of abuse in future.

Supporting special guardianship

J. Mitchell

Family Law, vol.38, 2008, p. 760-765

Special guardianship orders were designed in part to provide a framework for permanency for children being cared for on a permanent basis by members of their extended family. However special guardians need support in coping with difficult children with complex needs. This article provides a summary of the support available under s14F of the Children Act 1989 and gives concrete examples of the support available for common problems. Issues covered include financial support, legal costs, contact with birth parents, respite care and needs assessment.

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