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

The business of public services

J. Lepper

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 9th-15th 2009, p.18-19

Local authorities are increasingly contracting out children's and education services to private for-profit providers. This article presents case studies and comment on whether private providers offer good value for money.

The care leavers' postcode lottery

A. Hillier

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 19th-25th 2009, p. 18-19

Research suggests that young carer leavers need a grant of 2,500 to set up home. However grants available from councils vary widely, with the lowest being only 500.00 and the highest 2,200.

Children in care: experts fly in to help tackle crisis

A. Gentleman

The Guardian, Apr. 21st 2009, p. 1, 10 & 11

The government is recruiting 60 highly-qualified social workers from Germany, Norway and the Netherlands to lead an experimental programme which could revolutionise the way children's residential care home are run. European professionals are being sought to run a 1.5m pilot project in 30 children's homes across England, which will introduce the concept of 'social pedagogy' - a practice centred on helping children develop and flourish, rather than just working to meet their immediate needs and ensure their safety. The three-year experiment is one of a number of radical initiatives being tried by the government, as it battles to improve prospects for children in care.

Children's guardians flee red tape

J. Mahadevan

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 16th-22nd 2009, p. 9

A children's guardian is an independent person appointed by a family court to represent the interests of a child in court proceedings. However, there are concerns that children's guardians are leaving the profession because of increasing pressure from targets and red tape.

Children's Workforce Strategy: building an integrated qualifications framework

Children's Workforce Development Council


This consultation on a Skills Development Framework is part of a wider move to improve the skills and status of youth workers. It asks what skills workers need to engage successfully with young people, seeks to establish a clear career pathway, and explores how to raise the status of a profession that feels undervalued.

Falling between minds: the effects of unbearable experiences on multi-agency communication in the care system

P. Conway

Adoption and Fostering, vol. 33, no. 1, 2009, p. 18-29

The English government has made significant investment in improving educational attainment and placement stability for looked after children, but this has resulted in little progress and outcomes for this group remain poor. More multi-agency working is promoted by policymakers and politicians as key to improving outcomes for looked after children, but this approach often runs into difficulties. Splits, disagreements and rivalries often develop between and within services for vulnerable children, leading to a failure to communicate, sometimes with devastating consequences. Complaints abound and a culture of blame is endemic. This article suggests that, for multi-agency work to be effective in improving outcomes for looked after children, the psychoanalytic concepts of splitting and projection need to be integrated and applied at all levels of policy development and service provision.

Fathers and parenting programmes: barriers and best practice

J. Bayley, L. M. Wallace, and K. Choudhry

Community Practitioner, vol. 82, Apr. 2009, p. 28-31

Active involvement of fathers in parenting has numerous benefits for children. However fathers are particularly difficult to recruit to voluntary parenting programmes, despite the benefits such courses offer in the form of confidence, skills and improvements in child behaviour. This review gathers information on barriers to father engagement with parenting support services and identifies best practice for recruitment. Barriers identified were: lack of awareness, work commitments, female-oriented services, lack of organisational support and concerns over programme content. Best practice for recruitment included active targeted promotion, alternative forms of provision, prioritising fathers within organisations and considering varied cultural and ethnic perspectives.

Freedom's consequences: reducing teenage pregnancies and their negative effects in the UK

G. Lemos

London: Lemos and Crane, 2009

The Government's strategy has not succeeded in reducing teenage pregnancy rates in the UK because it is based on a misconception. It conceptualises the typical teenage mother as a young girl struggling to look after a baby on her own, having been abandoned by the father and at risk of homelessness. In fact most young mothers live either with the father of their child or with their parents. Those receiving support from their families and/or the child's father get no help from the state and so have a perverse incentive to move out and pretend that the boyfriend has disappeared. This approach needs to be turned on its head. Young parents need to be asked to sign a positive parenting plan, in which sources of family support would be identified. The plan should set out activities and milestones, such as the baby attending clinic. Cash rewards should be offered to the parents if they comply with the plan.

Giving more weight to protection

J. Robinson

Professional Social Work, Apr. 2009, p. 14-15

The Children Act 1989 gives parents of children involved in care proceedings considerable legal rights and power. This is making it very difficult for local authorities to obtain emergency care orders for children at risk from the courts. Instead of the adversarial approach to child protection cases seen in British courts, decisions regarding children's care should be dealt with on an inquisitorial basis through a kind of legally backed case conference.

An index of child well-being in Europe

J. Bradshaw and D. Richardson for Child Poverty Action Group,

Child Indicators Research (in press), 2009

This report published ahead of the 2009 budget compares child health, education and housing standards in the 27 nations of the European Union plus Norway and Iceland. It puts the UK in 24th place far below poorer countries such as Slovakia. It also claims that children in Britain are more miserable than elsewhere. It concludes that the government should provide more support for poor families to meet its key pledge to halve child poverty by 2010.

Inside Ofsted: will a shake-up make a difference?

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 2nd-8th 2009, p. 8-9

Ofsted has experienced heavy criticism for failing to properly scrutinise children's services. This article explores whether the new Comprehensive Area Assessment framework and an internal restructuring could improve its performance.

Keeping them in the family: outcomes for children placed in kinship care through care proceedings

J. Hunt, S. Waterhouse and E. Lutman

London: British Association for Adoption and Fostering, 2008

Kinship care is a fast developing field which is likely to receive greater attention following its promotion in the Care Matters White Paper. The book examines the medium term outcomes for children and provides invaluable information on the benefits and challenges of this form of care and what needs to be done if it is to be used effectively. The study, part of the government-funded Quality Protects research initiative, tracked a cohort of 113 children, removed from their parents' care because of child protection concerns and placed with kin through the courts between 1995 and 2001. There was also a small comparison group of young children placed in non-kin care. Placements were followed up in 2004/5 and assessed in terms of whether they had lasted for as long as necessary, whether they had provided good quality and safe care; the quality of the relationship between the child and the carer; and how well the child was functioning. The research concludes that kinship care can be a positive option for many abused and neglected children but it is not straightforward and requires careful assessment and adequate support. Realisation of the full potential of this unique form of care requires clear policies at central and local government level, appropriate infrastructures and adequate resources.

Lurking in the shadows

N. Valios

Community Care, Apr. 9th 2009, p. 18-21

Research shows that children are at greater risk of being murdered by their stepfathers or mothers' boyfriends than by their biological fathers. These homicides tend to be impulsive, rage driven acts motivated by hostility towards the child. Unfortunately social workers are not trained to engage with these very difficult men.

The new era of play takes shape

R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 9th-15th 2009, p. 11

Government is investing 235m in 3,500 new and refurbished outdoor play spaces in England. This article reports briefly on the challenges involved in delivering the programme in a very short time. Money did not reach local authorities until the Summer of 2008 and the deadline for delivering the first 500 areas was March 31st 2009.

No job, no hope: record rise of young Neets

R. Prince

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 21st 2009, p. 4

Statistics obtained by the Conservatives show that the number of young people not in education, employment or training rose from 630,000 in 2000 to 860,000 in 2009. The Tories claim that cuts in spending on sixth form colleges, apprenticeships and further education, coupled with the recession, will push the numbers up still further.

On the record

L. O'Rourke

Community Care, Apr. 16th 2009, p. 18-19

Good record-keeping plays a vital role in underpinning supervision and information sharing in children's services. However, most qualified social workers say that they have never been taught formally how to record information. More training is required.

Pierce v Doncaster mbc: holding local authorities responsible

B. Hetherington and P. Marshall

ChildRight, issue 254, p. 17-18

In this important case, the defendant sued Doncaster Council in connection with the abuse and neglect he alleged he had suffered at the hands of his parents over a period of 13 years. As a baby, he was placed in foster care by the local authority before being returned to his parents in 1977, at the age of 18 months. The Court of Appeal ruled that the local authority had acted unreasonably in permitting the defendant's return to his abusive family and that it had not assessed the case properly.

Proactive child protection and social work

L. Davies and N. Duckett

Exeter: Learning Matters, 2008

Protecting children from abuse is a serious matter, demanding critical thinking, tenacity, resilience, courage and compassion. This book is designed to show how the social work task of protecting children works. It aims to increase the confidence of those who need to know and uderstand the processes involved and to equip them to form part of the proactive child protection network. The book locates knowledge and skills within a series of case examples from the authors' actual practice and covers:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • Emotional abuse

Smugglers target ports and airport to traffic children

R. Booth

The Guardian, Apr. 14th 2009, p. 15

Suspected victims of child trafficking from Asia, Africa and the Middle East are being smuggled though Britain's leading ports and airports at an accelerating rate according to new figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. A total of 957 children, including more than 400 from Afghanistan and 200 from Africa, were picked up by local authorities in the eight months between April 2008 and the end of the year. At least 53 came from Iraq in a development that appears to back up warnings this week from aid agencies and police in that country of a growing trade in child trafficking to countries including Britain and Ireland.

Social pedagogy demystified

J. Lepper

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 2nd-8th 2009, p. 18-19

In Autumn 2009 the government is to launch a three year pilot scheme to see if social pedagogy can be integrated into UK children's services. The pilot will take place in 30 residential care homes for children, 18 of which will have social pedagogues in place. The remaining 12 will act as a control group.

What a difference a decade makes: rethinking teenage pregnancy as a problem

L. Arai

Social Policy and Society, vol. 8, 2009, p. 171-183

The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy was introduced in 1999 in England to halve conceptions among under 18s and to reduce the risk of social exclusion among young mothers. The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy depicts early motherhood as a social and public health problem. This paper argues that, on the contrary, teenage motherhood can be experienced positively and can bring benefits to the young women and their families. Particularly, it can improve family relationships and bring estranged family members together.

Why more children must be put into care

R. Bennett

The Times, Apr. 6th 2009, p. 3

According to Andrew Flanagan the new chief executive of the charity, the NSPCC, too many children at risk of serious neglect or abuse are being left with their parents because the care system is considered such a poor alternative. He argues that after the Baby P tragedy, the debate should have shifted to why foster and residential care were considered 'not a good option' and the steps needed to improve the system so that it was not used as an excuse to leave children in danger. His intervention is a serious challenge to the prevailing attitude in Government and among local authorities that children should almost always stay with their families, even if the families are violent or highly dysfunctional.

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