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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2009): Child welfare - UK

Childcare failures put thousands more at risk

J. Sherman and C. Smyth

The Times, Mar. 5th 2009, p. 1 & 2, 20 & 21

The Audit Commission has revealed that tens of thousands of children are at risk of abuse and neglect, with a quarter of councils providing inadequate or minimal services for young people. The performance league tables show that the standard of children's services fell across England last year with only 13 councils showing improvement while the ratings of 22 decreased. Forty of the 149 councils assessed by the children's watchdog Ofsted provided either inadequate or the bare minimum of children's services, which cover education, social care and child protection. Even wealthy authorities have not been immune to this deterioration, with one of the country's most affluent councils, Surrey, falling to the bottom of the league table.

Continental divide

K. Oxtoby

Community Care, Mar. 19th 2009, p. 22 + 24

Social pedagogy supports the development of the whole child, and looks at all aspects of their life skills. It is widely used in Western Europe, where there is little fostering, to support looked after children. This article explores barriers to its introduction in the UK.

English lessons

J. Coughlan

Community Care, Mar. 19th, 2009, p. 20

Written as part of a special feature on international aspects of social work, this article celebrates the achievements of child protection in England in service integration, introduction of evidence-based practice, and workforce development.

Extended flexible entitlement for three- and four-year-olds: pathfinder evaluation

C. Clarke and others

Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009 (Research report: RR 080)

By September 2010, all parents of three- and four-year-olds will be entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week for 38 weeks a year, which they will be able to use flexibly to meet their needs. The move presents challenges for local authorities and early years providers. This report looks at how the 20 councils engaged in a pilot fared. Problems occurred with:

  • Selling the idea of providing childcare between 4 and 6pm to schools, which did not see it as their role
  • Finding premises that could stay open for longer hours and recruiting staff
  • Assessing parental demand
  • Gauging the cost of extended and more flexible services

Family courts go public

J. Lepper

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 5th-11th 2009, p.18-19

Family courts in England will be transformed in April 2009 when the media is granted access to this traditionally private area of the justice system. Journalists will be able to report on divorce cases, child protection hearings and domestic violence injunctions. There is concern that children could be exposed to unwanted media attention and that their privacy could be invaded.

Healthy lives, brighter futures: the strategy for children and young people's health

Department of Health and the Department for Children, Schools and Families

London: DoH, 2009

The strategy promises:

  • The government will provide every Sure Start children's centre with access to a named health visitor
  • The principles of the national Healthy Schools Programme will be extended to the further education sector
  • Primary care trusts and further education colleges will receive £6m over three years from 2008/09 to improve advice on contraception for their students.
  • Some of the money allocated to primary care trusts to improve NHS services for disabled children will be used to provide short breaks, community children's equipment and wheelchair services
  • Consultation on ways to make it easier for schools to offer subsidised meals.
  • A joint commissioning framework for childrens health services

(For summary and comment see Children and Young People Now, Feb. 19th-25th 2009)

Legislative agenda: the Children and Young Person's Act 2008

J. Claridge

ChildRight, issue 253, 2009, p. 13-17

This paper summarises the provisions of the Children and Young Person's Act 2008. The Act:

  • Allows local authorities to delegate their care duties in respect of looked after children
  • Creates a new national Independent Reviewing Officer service that is separate from the local authority
  • Creates a new duty for local authorities to appoint a representative to visit all looked after children
  • Places a duty on schools to designate a member of staff as having the responsibility of promoting the educational achievement of looked after children.
  • Requires local authorities to pay a grant to former looked after children who enter higher education
  • Extends the duties of local authorities to provide assistance to former looked after children who pursue education or training.
  • Places a new duty on local authorities to secure sufficient local accommodation for children in care.

Meet the Neets

R. Davis

Community Care, Feb. 26th 2009, p. 18-19

In 2008 15% of 16- to 24-year olds were unemployed in the UK. This number is likely to rise in the recession. Government is relying on the New Deal, the creation of 35,000 apprenticeships and raising the school leaving age to 18 to contain the problem. This article explores the role that social workers could take in providing integrated youth support to prevent young people disengaging from education and training in the first place.

The protection of children in England: a progress report

Lord Laming

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09: HC 330)

Report of an independent review of child protection services following the violent death of Baby P in Haringey in 2007. The report suggests that of 11 million children in England, 200,000 were in homes where there was a known high risk of domestic abuse or violence. It expresses frustration that recommendations made following the death of Victoria Climbié have not been fully implemented. Instead of seeking any fundamental structural changes to the child protection system, the report calls for professionals to work more closely together. The review also calls for serious failings in the regulator Ofsted to be addressed, and warns that councils are sometimes reluctant to initiate care proceedings because of new court fees introduced in 2008.

Re-Ach project: evaluation support

G. Cowen, K. Merrill and E. Cotton

Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009 (Research report: RR 079)

The two-year Re-Ach project funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families was supposed to reduce teenage pregnancies and the number of people not in education, employment or training in Barking and Dagenham, Hillingdon and Leicester. However, the evaluation has shown that the pilot failed to engage the target group of hard to reach young people, and instead focused on those actually in education who showed little sign of disaffection or disengagement.

Reform of gender identity support

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 12th-18th 2009, p. 13

From April 2009 support services for children and young people experiencing gender identity issues will be commissioned at a national level, which should mean that access will be quicker. However, there is controversy around how young people with a definite desire to change their sex should be treated shortly after the onset of puberty. This centres on whether or not the young people should be treated with drugs to suspend puberty.

Security flaws hit child protection database again

H. Blake

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 24th 2009, p. 6

The launch of ContactPoint, the government's new child protection database, has been delayed for the third time after local authorities found loopholes in the in the system designed to hide details of the most vulnerable young people. ContactPoint is designed to safeguard young people under 18 by providing a 'one-stop-shop' at which professionals can easily find details of a child's school, parents, and GP.

Somebody else's child: everybody's responsibility

E. Freeman

ChildRight, issue 253, 2009, p. 19-21

Private fostering is defined as an arrangement where a child is looked after by adults who are not parents or close relatives. Social services should by law be notified about such arrangements, but many are not. This article highlights a new campaign by BAAF to encourage members of the wider community to report families who may be involved in private fostering to the authorities.

Targeted youth support pathfinders evaluation

H. Palmer and S. Kendall

York Consulting, 2009

This research shows that a government scheme aimed at supporting vulnerable young people before their problems escalate is not meeting its goals. In half of the 44 cases examined by the researchers, the young people already had high-level needs before they were identified for support. Young people's long-term needs were only met in one fifth of cases, and a significant positive impact on their lives was made in only one-eighth of cases. The study found that some of the pilot areas lacked effectively co-ordinated or managed models for implementing the scheme, and only focused on small districts, which led to the programme having minimal impact.

The true picture of teen pregnancy

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 5th-11th 2009, p. 11

Annual figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that teenage pregnancies increased by one percent between 2006 and 2007. However, some areas have in fact made considerable progress in reducing them. The variation is due to the extent to which local authorities and primary care trusts are consistently implementing the government's teenage pregnancy strategy.

Weapon against violence

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Feb. 26th-Mar. 4th 2009, p. 13

Report of an interview with Darra Singh, chair of the new Serious Youth Violence Board. This quango is charged with improving information sharing between agencies combating youth violence, clarifying accountability, tackling the risk factors behind youth crime and improving services.

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