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

An antidote to extremism

J. Stephenson

Children and Young People Now, July 23rd-29th 2009, p. 18-19

The government is trying to prevent Muslim young people from turning to violent extremism by funding community projects that give them space to air their views. Experts in the field debate whether the investment is paying off.

Britons may be aiding child trafficking

R. Booth

The Guardian, August 14th 2009, p. 13

According to a survey by Ecpat, the international campaign against the sexual exploitation of children, 89% of those surveyed were not aware that activities such as buying pirate DVDs and roses from street vendors, giving money to child beggars and using prostitutes may be supporting what the United Nations has described as 'a modern day slave trade'. According to the chief executive of Ecpat, engaging in such activities supports the illegal economy which includes trafficking. The Home Office's UK Human Trafficking Centre received three reports a week about children smuggled into the UK between April and June 2009, and this is thought to represent just a fraction of the cases.

Children's rights special report

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 13th-26th 2009, p. 16-19

Every UK government in power for the past 20 years has been committed to implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This special report summaries their main accomplishments and missed opportunities.

An early process evaluation of the Public Law Outline in family courts

P. Jessiman, P. Keogh and J. Brophy

Ministry of Justice, 2009 (Research series; 10/09)

The Public Law Outline (PLO) was introduced in April 2008 to manage care and supervision order proceedings under section 31 of the Children Act 1989. It requires more emphasis to be given to preventing cases from going to court by the greater use of pre-proceedings assessments of parents and family members. This study aimed to:

  1. Gain an understanding of the process of implementing the PLO and its impact from a range of practitioner perspectives
  2. Determine the extent to which the PLO and associated guidance are being applied in three initiative areas.

Concern was expressed about the pre-proceedings process, including parents' ability to access and make use of specialist legal advice; the timing and use of the Letter before Proceedings; the effectiveness of the PLO in preventing cases from unnecessarily resulting in proceedings; and the possibility that the PLO was in fact resulting in delays in cases being brought before the courts. Serious concerns were expressed by professionals about the welfare, voice and human rights of the child being compromised during the pre-proceedings stage.

Internet safety: a new approach

S. Bass

ChildRight, issue 257, 2009, p. 16-19

The Internet is and international phenomenon with no physical boundaries which can be misused by those intent on harming children. Moreover, undesirable offline behaviour such as bullying has moved to the Internet, re-emerging as cyberbullying. The UK government has responded to the threat from those intent on harming children through the Internet as well as its psychological and sociological impact in several ways: through the creation of the Child Education and Online Protection Centre; by implementing the recommendations of the Byron review of Internet safety; and by the establishment of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety.

Lessons for leaders to cut inequality

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, July 23rd-29th 2009, p. 12

Narrowing the Gap was a two-year research programme launched in June 2007 and designed to identify how councils and their partners can reduce inequalities between disadvantaged children and young people and their peers. Guidance has now been issued offering advice on how to reduce inequalities based on evidence gathered by the research

Marketing to children on the Internet: what's right and wrong?

A. Nairn and E. Mayo

ChildRight, issue 257, 2009, p. 26-30

Almost every Internet site used by children is commercial and a huge amount of money is invested in advertising targeted on them. Content is funded in three ways:

  1. Selling advertising space to third parties who want to target children
  2. Selling merchandise direct from the site
  3. Collecting children's data to sell to other organisations.

Regulations and best practice guidelines for advertising and selling to children and for collecting their data do exist, but finding the codes and deciphering what they cover is both daunting and confusing. We currently have a global hotchpotch of voluntary codes (drawn up by disparate organisations) and national regulations.

The media and family courts: do we need to be bothered?

H. Brookman

Family Law, Aug. 2009, p. 713-717

Media representatives have had rights of access to family courts since the April 2009 reforms, but it can be assumed that the national press will only be interested in celebrity cases. Unless they have been expressly tipped off to attend a particular hearing, there will be very little publicity. However, the local media thrives on local news, and it is expected that the first real challenges will arise in the regional county courts, where the media could be used by cynical litigants to intimidate the other side.

One child in six lives in home with no working parent

K. Allen and A. Seager

The Guardian, Aug. 27th 2009, p. 28

Almost 2 million children now live in households where there is no working adult according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics. The number of children in workless households rose by 170,000 in April-June this year, compared with the same period last year. This means that one child in six now lives in a home where there is no adult in employment. Describing the figures as 'deeply concerning', Kate Green, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, called on the government to come up with a 'recession survival package' to stop families sliding into debt.

Power to the looked-after children

J. Mahadevan

Children and Young People Now, July 23rd-29th 2009, p. 11

Children in Care Councils were set up to involve looked-after children in shaping services that affect them. This article reports that the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care and the professional body Children's Rights Officers and Advocates are establishing a Children in Care Council Consortium to share best practice. It also looks at what the councils are achieving on the ground.

A quest to prove prevention works

R. Smith

Children and Young People Now, July 30th-Aug. 12th 2009, p. 9

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is developing a consultation paper for publication in late 2009 which is designed to help directors of children's services make the economic case for investing in early intervention. An initiative called Communities that Care (CtC) is thought to be influencing the green paper's development. CtC tackles social exclusion by working with local communities to promote better outcomes for children by addressing key risks. Interventions are based on evidence of what works.

Recession pulls more children into poverty

P. Curtis

The Guardian, August 12th 2009, p. 4

According to the latest data published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families some 1,095,430 children were eligible for free school meals in January, the first increase in four years with families in the north-east and Midlands worst affected. Although London has the highest proportion of free school meals, with 34.5% of primary pupils qualifying, it has been insulated from the increases with the proportion of secondary school pupils qualifying for free meals remaining static and the proportion of those in primary schools dropping by 1% in inner London. Child poverty campaigners said the figures reveal the impact of the recession on children's lives.

Row over inspections rages on

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, July 23rd-29th 2009, p. 8-9

Ofsted's no-notice inspections of children's services introduced after the tragic death of Baby P were intended to reassure the public. However, they have come under fierce criticism from directors of children's services for focusing on processes rather than on frontline practice, and for being too brief to allow inspectors to accurately assess a council's performance.

Safety second?

J. Devo

Professional Social Work, Aug. 2009, p. 12-13, 15

Concerns have emerged that a small number of legal precedents in England are overriding child protection legislation, significantly increasing the difficulties social workers face in attempting to remove neglected and emotionally abused children under an Interim Care Order. A number of recent judicial rulings are being given more weight than the Children Act 1989, which sets out the parameters against which a decision to approve removal on an Interim Care Order should be made.

The state of play

N. Rowntree

Children and Young People Now, July 30th-12th Aug. 2009, p. 18-19

Every local authority is to receive around 1m 'playbuilder' capital investment to renovate old play areas and develop new ones by 2011. Thirty pathfinder local authorities have each been given over 2m, part of which is to be used to develop a new adventure playground. This article looks at how the money is being spent.

Unleashing aspiration: the final report of the Panel on Fair Access to the Professions

The Panel on Fair Access to the Professions

London: Cabinet Office, 2009

This investigation by a cross-party panel aimed to examine the accessibility of professions such as law and medicine to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The report is scathing about the current careers information, advice and guidance system, including the Connexions Service, claiming that it does little to improve social mobility. It proposes dismantling the Connexions Service and transferring responsibility for careers guidance to schools and colleges.

(For comment see Children and Young People Now, July 30th-Aug.12th 2009, p. 11)

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