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

Beyond the baby boom

N. Rowntree

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

Birth rates in the UK have soared in recent years and this is placing added demand on already stretched early years services. As 70% of mothers now work, up from just 58% in 1992, many are experiencing difficulty in arranging childcare and accessing nursery school places. This article looks at how councils are responding to the challenge.

Bristol's framework for success

N. Salari

Community Care, July 9th 2009, p. 20-21

Bristol Council has embraced the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) as a standardised approach to assessing and meeting the needs of vulnerable children. More than 1,000 staff from education, health, police, housing and children's services have been trained in how to complete a CAF. The system has enabled social workers to delegate the meeting of children's lower level needs to other professionals, while they concentrate on safeguarding responsibilities.

Childcare in the face of recession

R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, July 2nd-8th 2009, p. 12

Demand for formal childcare is falling in areas where unemployment is high due to the recession. There are concerns that local providers may close due to lack of demand. This article looks at ways in which local authorities are intervening to ensure that childcare settings survive in the current adverse economic climate.

Do care homes remain a last resort?

J. Mahadevan

Children and Young People Now, July 2nd-8th 2009, p. 10

It is being recognised that foster care is not suitable for some looked-after children with complex needs, and that they are better served by placements in specialist residential care homes with therapeutic services. However, there are concerns that some councils are limiting use of residential care on cost grounds.

Effectiveness of the new local safeguarding children boards in England: interim report

A. France and others

Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009 (Research report DCSF-RR126)

This interim report examines the structure of more than 100 of the 144 local safeguarding children boards in existence. It reveals huge variations in the way that they are structured. The smallest board has just 12 members, while the largest has a massive 91. Chairing is also a contentious issue. Forty-one percent are chaired by directors of children's services and 40% are chaired independently. Chairs are concerned about the quality of serious case reviews, but as no-one can predict how many reviews will be undertaken in a year, it is impossible to budget for the expense. This puts boards under great pressure.

An exemplary scheme? An evaluation of the Integrated Children's System

I. Shaw and others

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 39, 2009, p. 613-626

The integrated children's system (ICS) is a government-led initiative and part of a wider package of children's services reforms. It aims to promote integration and systematisation of services. The ICS 'provides a conceptual framework, a method of practice and a business process to support practitioners and managers in undertaking the key tasks of assessment, planning, intervention and review'. The key elements of the ICS are said to be:

  1. an understanding of social work as consisting of assessment, planning, intervention and review
  2. a set of data requirements providing common information from one locality to another about children
  3. a set of 'exemplar' formats for social work practitioners which form the basis of an e-social care record. The ICS systems evaluated in this study failed to achieve the government's aims. They did not provide reliable aggregate information, were heavily criticised by social workers, and were widely seen as taking up a lot of time for little net gain.

Extending the free early education entitlement: discussion document on a new code of practice

Department for Children, Schools and Families


All three- and four-year-olds in England will be entitled to 15 hours of free childcare provision a week from September 2010. This consultation proposes:

  • Strict national guidelines on what defines high quality early years provision
  • Training for local authorities in deciding how the free entitlement is to be delivered locally
  • A statutory requirement for all local authorities to form childminding networks
  • More partnerships between childminding networks and early years providers
  • A duty on local authorities to inform all parents about their entitlement to free early education
  • A standardised approach to analysing the cost of local childcare
  • Local authorities should be included in contracts between parents and providers.
  • Free meals for disadvantaged children

(For a summary of responses see Children and Young People Now, July 16th-22nd 2009, p. 12)


Good practice in safeguarding children: working effectively in child protection

L. Hughes and H. Owen (editors)

London: J. Kingsley, 2009

The book considers how front-line professionals can keep the best interests of the child at the heart of their work when statutory guidance, the way agencies are integrated and the delivery of services are changing. It draws together a broad range of issues, including neglect, trafficked children, parents with learning difficulties and child protection supervision. The contributors discuss current dilemmas in safeguarding children work and provide models of good practice, including case scenarios and exercises. They also explores how changes in the system offer an opportunity to enhance the quality of service provision in order to achieve better outcomes for children and their families.

Ofsted warning over child care providers


Daily Telegraph, July 30th 2009, p. 2

Ofsted inspectors warn that a third of childminders and nurseries are not good enough at keeping young pre-school children safe. Of the 21,212 childminders and nurseries inspected in 2008/09, 6,899 were found to be either inadequate (842) or merely satisfactory (6,057). Under Ofsted rules, satisfactory is classed as not good enough.

Permanence in foster care: a study of care planning and practice in England and Wales

G. Schofield and E. Ward

London: British Association for Adoption and Fostering, 2008

This book reports the findings of the first national study of care planning for permanence in foster care in England and Wales. The study was based on a survey of foster care planning systems and practice, and included the perspectives of social workers, managers and foster carers. Although long-term foster care is seen in policy as a legitimate permanence option, there is no Government guidance on how it should be defined and managed. The study showed how local authorities have therefore developed their own varied terminology, definitions, systems, procedures and practice. An important factor in determining different routes to permanence is the age of the child, and the study raises key questions about the boundaries between adoption and long-term/permanent fostering for younger children and about how care plans for older children and teenagers may or may not reflect the aim of permanence. Most important of all, the book makes a case for ensuring that procedure and practice support a care plan for permanence in foster care, which will meet the needs of children through to adulthood.

The role of the educational psychologist in multidisciplinary work relating to fostering and adoption

C. Osborne, R. Norgate and M. Traill

Adoption and Fostering, vol. 33, no.2, 2009, p. 13-25

Fostered and adopted children form a vulnerable group with a range of educational, social and mental health needs, and are likely to benefit from input from a range of professions, one of these being educational psychology. This article reports on the results of a questionnaire sent to all educational psychology services in England, with a view to clarifying the nature and level of educational psychologist input into this area of work. Sixty-nine per cent of services were involved to some extent in this work, with a skew in favour of work with fostered rather than adopted children. A wide range of work was carried out and was considered to have led to improved communication between agencies, enhanced working arrangements and a greater understanding of factors related to fostering and adoption.

The runaway children

N. Rowntree

Children and Young People Now, June 25th-July 1st 2009, p. 18-19

A government action plan published in June 2008 promised to improve services for runaway children. However, this progress at the policy level has yet to translate into better services on the ground. Services at present are patchy and constrained by lack of funding, with only three specialist refuges operating nationally.

A serious case for change

D. Barnes

Professional Social Work, July 2009, p. 10-11

This article comments on the findings of the second serious case review of the death of Baby Peter in Haringey, and suggests how social work can learn lessons from the tragedy. It calls for implementation of a multi-agency approach to case review, improvements in evidence-based practice, and a stronger role for 'expert practitioners' in ensuring effective practice.

Social work training unit unfit for purpose, say MPs

D. Brindle

The Times, July 30th 2009, p.8

The Commons Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families has published a report today which warns children are being put at risk because social workers are not being prepared adequately for the job. Degree courses in social work are criticised, in particular.

The stuff you can't measure

K. Broadhurst and C. Hall

Professional Social Work, July 2009, p. 20-21

Standardised and largely technocratic approaches to risk management are now significantly impacting on day-to-day social work with children and families. However, there is more to 'real-time' management of risk than following procedures and protocols. It is an essentially professional activity, requiring skilled, situation-specific analyses of particular cases.

Somewhere to belong: a blueprint for 21st-century youth clubs

J. Hargreaves

Clubs for Young People, 2009

This inquiry into the state of Britain's youth clubs finds that many experience chronic funding shortages and struggle to win local authority contracts. The report calls for: 1) more funding options for smaller youth clubs; 2) better commissioning of voluntary groups to run council-funded clubs; 3) better training for youth club workers; and 4) the promotion of open-access clubs available to all, in place of initiatives targeted on vulnerable groups.

A tale of two CAFs: the impact of the electronic common assessment framework

A. Pithouse and others

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 39, 2009, p. 599-612

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is an electronic system for assessing children and sharing information between child welfare professionals, which is at various stages of pilot and implementation in England and Wales. This study shows that in the course of its implementation, policy aims have been submerged in day-to-day practice and that, analytically, there are differences between the 'CAF of policy' and the 'CAF of practice'. There are conceptually two CAFs: the formal construct of policy and the applied CAF as constructed by multiple organisations.

Teenage pregnancies rise despite 6m government campaign

S. Boseley

The Guardian, July 8th 2009, p. 7

An evaluation of the Young People's Development Programme, a 3-year pilot project commissioned by the Department of Health to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, has found that it actually led to an increase in the number of girls getting pregnant. The evaluation, conducted by the Institute of Education, is published in the British Medical Journal of 7 July.

Teenagers must sign paedophile database

M. Beckford

Daily Telegraph, July 31st 2009, p. 11

From November 2010, anyone in England, Wales or Northern Ireland who starts a job in a school or hospital will have to register with the new Independent Safeguarding Agency (ISA), or face prosecution. Those already in such posts will be phased in over the next five years. A wide range of other people who have contact with children will also be required to enrol, including teenage volunteers, medical students, clergy, personal tutors, sports coaches, and organisers of children's clubs. The ISA will check applicants' backgrounds for sex offences.

(See also Independent, July 17th 2009, p.12)

Youth of today, leaders of to-morrow

J. Mahadevan

Children and Young People Now, July 16th-22nd 2009, p. 11

This article introduces a new initiative, branded as The Youth of Today, which promises to expand leadership opportunities for 13-19-year-olds. Made up of a consortium of seven organisations led by the National Youth Agency, the body aims to increase the quality, quantity and diversity of leadership options open to teenagers, while overturning negative portrayals of young people.

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