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

Are government policies chipping away at youth work's values?

J. Mahadevan

Children and Young People Now, May 21st-27th 2009, p.12-13

Concerns are mounting that government policies have undermined youth work's core values. There are worries that the principle of voluntary engagement by young people with professionals is being eroded, that confidentiality is being threatened by requirements to share information, and that the process and intent of youth work is being compromised by the pursuit of targets and accredited outcomes. In this article a panel of experts give their views.

Centres prepare for life after 2010

R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, June 4th-10th 2009, p. 12

Ringfenced funding for children's centres will end in 2010. Although the government is legislating to ensure that they will continue, professionals are concerned about future funding levels. It is argued that the centres should branch out beyond early years service provision and become involved in other initiatives so that they can tap other sources of funding.

Child abuse as a complex and wicked problem: reflecting on policy developments in the United Kingdom in working with children and families with multiple problems

J. Devaney and T. Spratt

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 31, 2009, p. 635-641

In spite of significant public concern, financial expenditure and professional efforts over the past 30 years, there has been a perceived lack of progress in reducing the incidence of child abuse in the UK and elsewhere. This article explores the factors behind this situation by reflecting on current policy developments in the UK. It is argued that while the current system may protect some children from abuse, they are not being helped to deal with the consequences of the multiple problems to which they have been exposed. There is a need to identify children at risk of poor outcomes at an early age and provide them with long-term support. This may be before child protection services would traditionally have become involved, for example in cases of parental substance abuse. Professionals need to look for long term solutions to the multiple problems afflicting such families instead of relying on 'quick fixes' that are unlikely to work.

Developing advocacy for children and young people: current issues in research, policy and practice

C. Oliver and J. Dalrymple (editors)

London: J. Kingsley, 2008

Advocacy for vulnerable people is increasingly becoming a part of health and social care practice, and over the past decade policy developments have contributed to the rapid development of advocacy services for children and young people. This book explores the latest debates and findings relating to research and practice in the field of children and young people's advocacy. Contributors present the key issues and dynamics of current advocacy practice and examine its role within health, education and social care services, including its impact on inter-professional collaboration, the development of personalised services and the barriers and facilitators to children's participation in children's services.

Ending child poverty: making it happen

Department for Children, Schools and Families


This consultation paper sets out:

  • The government's intention to bring forward primary legislation to place itself under a duty to report on progress towards the eradication of child poverty and to establish an expert commission to provide guidance to inform the strategy.
  • A strategic framework of building blocks, comprising:
    1. getting more families into paid work, with support to improve their skills
    2. tackling barriers to work such as lack of childcare or transport
    3. extra financial support for those experiencing short or long periods out of work
    4. giving priority to at risk groups such as the disabled
    5. preventing poverty in childhood from translating into poor outcomes.
  • Options to define the eradication of child poverty, including possible use of an absolute measure
  • Placing local authorities and/or the wider public sector under a duty to tackle child poverty.

(For comment from Inclusion see Working Brief, Mar. 2009, p. 16-18)

Evaluating the delivery by Action for Children of targeted family support

J. Tunstill, J. Blewett and P. Meadows

Action for Children, 2009

Action for Children delivers a range of family support services through 300 projects across the UK, including children's centres. It aims to provide a continuum of services to meet the needs of children most at risk of poor outcomes, ranging from short-term, time-limited intensive interventions to long-term support that can meet multiple and complex needs. This evaluation explores the extent to which the projects contribute, through their delivery of targeted family support, to improved child and family level outcomes. The study found that:

  1. intensive support can make a difference to the lives of children and families in the most challenging circumstances
  2. robust outreach is needed to enable access for hard-to-reach families
  3. effective family support offered both practical help and emotional support

Families 'at risk' and the family nurse partnership: the intrusion of risk into social exclusion policy

A. Dodds

Social Policy Journal, vol. 38, 2009, p. 499-514

The family nurse partnership (FNP) consists of a programme of visits by nurses to low-income first time mothers, both during pregnancy and during the first two years after the birth. The FNP is focused both on 'teaching parenthood' and on 'encouraging the mother to get an education or a job'. Although the FNP marks a considerable discontinuity with previous approaches to family health, it is congruent with an emerging new approach to tackling social exclusion. This approach maintains that the most important task of social policy is the early identification of 'at risk' households, families and children and targeting support services on them.

Frontline pressures after Baby P

K. Ly

Community Practitioner, vol. 82, June 2009, p.12-13

Health visitors describe the pressures they face in safeguarding children following the high-profile murder of Baby P by his family while on the Haringey at risk register. They highlight a lack of supportive management and insufficient staffing levels.

A good childhood: searching for values in a competitive age

R. Layard and J. Dunn

London: Penguin, 2009

The book, which is a result of a two year investigation by the Children's Society and draws upon the work of the UK's leading experts in many fields, explores the main stresses and influences to which every child is exposed such as family, friends, youth culture, values, and schooling. It tackles issues which affect every child, whatever their background, and questions and provides solutions to the belief that life has become so extraordinarily difficult for children in general. The experts make 30 specific recommendations on how childhood could be made better for all children, giving them the values they need to be happy and to flourish.

The integrated children's system: enhancing social work and inter-agency practice

H. Cleaver and others

London: J. Kingsley, 2008

The Integrated Children's System (ICS) was developed to support effective practice with children and families and improve decision making and planning for children in need. This book outlines what the ICS is and how it works, and assesses the effectiveness of a number of pilot projects, offering guidance to others using and implementing the system, which is being rolled out nationally. Part of the government's long term programme to improve outcomes and life chances for children, the system provides a more structured and systematic approach by integrating the processes of working with children in need from the point of first contact through to the final review.

Kinship care: fostering effective family and friends placements

E. Farmer and S. Moyers

London: J. Kingsley, 2008

Children are frequently cared for by relatives and friends when parents, for whatever reason, are unable to look after their children themselves. Yet there is very little information about how well children do when placed with kin or how safe they are in these placements. This book compares formal kinship care to traditional foster placements in order to ascertain which children are placed with kin, in what circumstances, how well such children progress, and how often these placements break down. The authors explore whether children placed with family and friends fare better or worse than other foster children, what services are provided and needed, and how kinship care is experienced by carers, children and social workers.

Making it better for boys: in schools, families and communities

A. McClure

London: Network Continuum, 2008

This book provides an understanding of why boys behave as they do along with a multitude of tried-and-tested approaches to encouraging positive behaviour. It aims to empower professionals to make changes in the classroom and in the broader life of the school to make life better for boys, for schools and for communities. The book looks at the many issues that affect boy's learning and behaviour and , through research and practical suggestions, shows how school communities can be 'agents of change' influencing how teachers, parents and society perceive boys.

Nothing about us without us: involving families in Early Support

J. Heywood

Community Practitioner, vol. 82, June 2009, p. 26-29

Early Support is the government programme to deliver child-centred and family-focused services for children aged 0-5 with a disability or complex need. It is being introduced in local authorities, hospitals and community-based health services across England. Integral to the ethos of Early Support is the understanding that every decision should be influenced and led by children and families. Families are expected to play a strategic role in the development and monitoring of policy and practice, and the service is expected to be proactive in seeking their views. This paper explores the practice of achieving meaningful user involvement, some of the barriers encountered, and some of the benefits that user involvement brings.

Open family: opening family courts to journalists

D. Bascombe

ChildRight, issue 256, 2009, p. 13-16

Until April 27th 2009, journalists were unable to attend family court hearings and very little could be reported in the media about what went on. Restrictions on journalists attending family court hearings have now been lifted, but reporting restrictions remain in place.

Review of the involvement and action taken by health bodies in relation to the case of Baby P

Care Quality Commission


This review of the action taken by health bodies in relation to the case of Baby P highlights key failings in the lead-up to his death. These include poor communication between health professionals and other agencies, a lack of awareness of child protection procedures, shortages of staff leading to delays in seeing children, and failings in governance at the trusts concerned. The investigation found that communication between health and social workers at North Middlesex University Hospital remains an ongoing issue.

Should youth workers need a licence to practise?

J. Mahadevan

Children and Young People Now, June 4th-10th 2009, p. 8-9

The youth sector is united about the need to boost the status of youth work but divided over whether introducing a licence to practise is the right way to do so. There are concerns that such a license could deter volunteers and part-time workers.

Survey of health recommendations arising from 2006 working together chapter 8 serious case reviews: how to achieve better learning?

H. Hyland and C. Holme

Child Abuse Review, vol. 18, 2009, p. 195-204

Few local safeguarding children boards or health organisations have completed audit cycles of action plans arising from serious case reviews. Through analysis of recommendations arising from serious case reviews in one Strategic Health Authority area, this study aims to promote greater learning through audit of action plans, encouraging agencies to become 'organisations with a memory'.

Time for family support

J. Hocking

Community Care, May 21st 2009, p. 16-17

There are concerns that a preoccupation with child protection is distracting children's services departments from preventive family support work. This is leading to children being taken into local authority care unnecessarily.

Training the workforce following a serious case review: lessons learnt from a death by fabricated and induced illness

J. Horwath and W. Tidbury

Child Abuse Review, vol. 18, 2009, p. 181-194

After the death of a child from suspected maltreatment, Local Safeguarding Children Boards in England are expected to hold a serious case review. These reviews usually include recommendations for both inter- and intra-agency training. The authors argue that, when planning and delivering training in this situation, it is crucial to recognise the emotional impact of such a death on the workforce. This is particularly important when the child has died as a result of fabricated and induced illness by a carer and professionals may have inadvertently contributed to his/her suffering.

What is the impact of public care on children's welfare? A review of research findings from England and Wales and their policy implications

D. Forrester and others

Social Policy Journal, vol. 38, 2009, p. 439-456

The outcomes for children in public care in England and Wales are generally considered to be poor. This has led to efforts to reduce the number of children entering local authority care. However, while children in care do less well than their peers on a range of measures, these comparisons do not disentangle the extent to which the difficulties pre-dated care and the specific impact of care on child welfare. This article explores the specific impact of care through a review of British research since 1991 that provides data on changes in child welfare over time for children in care. The studies consistently show that children entering care tended to have very serious problems, but in general their welfare improved over time. The results suggest that attempts to reduce the use of public care are misguided, and may place more children at risk of serious harm.

What progress on protection?

A.U. Sale

Community Care, June 4th 2009, p. 16-17

Lord Laming recommended in his 2009 progress report on child protection in England that schools, the police and health services should improve their practice in this field. This article looks at the changes afoot to improve safeguarding arrangements in these areas.

What's different this time?

S. Gillen

Community Care, June 4th 2009, p. 20-21

This article introduces the work of the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit which will be launched in July 2009 in response to Lord Laming's report on progress in child protection in England. The new unit will oversee the implementation of Lord Laming's recommendations, provide a bridge between national policy and local implementation, and support and challenge local authorities.

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