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

Backing the future

J. Aked and others

London: Action for Children and nef (the New Economics Foundation), 2009

This study sets out a detailed analysis of the social and economic costs of failing to invest in services that prevent crime, mental illness, family breakdown, drug use and obesity. It seeks to show how early intervention and preventative work can produce both social value and financial benefit. The report seeks to show how much each person with a social problem costs the government annually, and predicts how much could be saved by preventing these problems. It also quantifies how these improvements can benefit individuals. Having put forward a solid economic case for investing in preventative services, the researchers then propose that these could be funded by issuing government bonds. This approach would avoid increasing public debt or general taxation.

Brown targets families as key to electoral rescue mission

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Oct. 8th-14th 2009, p. 8-9

This article presents an overview of family and child welfare policies set out by the Labour Party at their 2009 annual conference. These comprise: 1) housing teenage single mothers in a network of supervised homes instead of allocating social housing; 2) extending the scope of family intervention projects and increased use of Asbos to tackle anti-social behaviour; 3) provision of free childcare for 250,000 two-year-olds within five years; and 4) increased spending on schools

Caring or deterring?

L. Hunt

Community Care, Sept. 17th 2009, p. 18-19

Some adults demand that statutory services step in and relieve them of their parental responsibilities by taking their children into state care. This is an abuse of the system, and some local authorities are considering deterring parents from this course of action by charging for use of the service. However, there are concerns that if parents are deterred by charges, it could lead to more family breakdown and homelessness.

City's children's care services branded 'not fit for purpose'

R. Williams

The Guardian, Oct. 6th 2009, p.6

A report on Birmingham City Council's Children's Services Department has found poor management and a severe lack of competence across a number of its offices. Sickness amongst staff was found to be running at 20% while 24% of job vacancies were unfilled. In the past four years 8 young people known to social workers have died. The department has been branded 'patently not fit for purpose' in the report.

Conservatives make a case to govern for the young

L. Higgs and N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Oct. 15th-21st 2009, p. 8-9

Outlines the implications of Conservative policies for children and young people laid out at their 2009 Party Conference in the fields of family support, education, youth employment and advice, children's rights and tackling anti-social behaviour.

(See also Children and Young People Now, Oct. 15th-21st 2009, p. 10-11)

Contactpoint: the verdict so far

N. Rowntree

Children and Young People Now, Oct. 8th-14th 2009, p. 18-19

The controversial ContactPoint database contains information about a child's parents, carers, and GP and school. Feedback from early adopters of the system is positive, and evidence is emerging that the directory saves professionals' time by providing easy access to information about who else is working with a particular child.

Criminal checks even if you don't work with children

M. Beckford

Daily Telegraph, Oct. 27th 2009, p. 1

The chair of the new Independent Safeguarding Authority has argued that employers may insist that staff register with the anti-paedophile database even if they have only marginal contact with children. Firms, such as electrical contractors working in schools, would fear losing business if they did not have their employees vetted. He also confirmed that sensitive information gathered about those on the database would be kept indefinitely, even if they left the relevant professions.

Ensuring Every Child Matters

G. Knowles

London: Sage, 2009

In today's climate of multi-professional working, this book examines how children between the ages of 3 and 11 are educated, in the educational and social context of the Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda. There are chapters dedicated to the five outcomes of Every Child Matters (which are: being healthy; staying safe; enjoying and achieving; making a positive contribution; achieving economic wellbeing), as well as comprehensive guidance on how to ensure the ECM standards are met. Issues discussed include: education; social justice; diversity and inclusion; the child in society; and working with families. Case studies are provided in each chapter, along with activities, suggestions for further reading and useful websites.

For the greater good

N. Rowntree

Children and Young People Now, Sept. 24th-30th 2009, p. 16-17

Involvement of social enterprises in the provision of services for children and young people is growing. However, there are concerns that the model may not be sustainable in the recession without public funding. Some social enterprises are having to close as they are unable to make a profit due to falling demand.

Hi-tech ally in the fight against abuse

A. Mickel

Community Care, Oct. 1st 2009, p. 18-19

Child abusers have grown increasingly adept at exploiting the Internet to disseminate pornography and groom children. This article introduces the work of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which is leading the fight back. The role of the centre in combating online abuse through public education and work with corporate partners is highlighted.

Immigration centre's toll on children's mental health

R. Verkaik

The Independent, Oct. 13th 2009, p. 5

An investigation into children being held forcibly in a British immigration detention centre has reported that they have experienced serious psychological and physical health problems. Doctors who examined 24 families said their findings raised concerns about the health and well being of children who have sought asylum in Britain and called for an urgent review of the detention of young people.

Lib Dems lay out their vision

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Oct. 1st - 7th 2009, p. 8-9

Children and young people figure prominently in the Liberal Democrat Party's policy proposals. These include tackling youth unemployment by encouraging the provision of more vocational education, offering paid internships to unemployed young people, and creating opportunities for universal 'gap year' style experiences. In order to eradicate child poverty, the Party would abolish universal benefits and target resources on the most vulnerable families. It would also scrap the expensive ContactPoint information sharing database and target resources on providing more support to children's services social workers.

Measuring outcomes in youth work in Northern Ireland

T. Morgan

Youth and Policy, no.103, 2009, p. 49-64

One aspect of the cessation of the armed conflict in Northern Ireland has been an increase in financial support from the European Union which has given out millions of pounds to many youth projects through Peace I and Peace II programmes. In order to qualify for this additional funding, recipients have had to offer 'tangible' outcomes. This outcomes-based approach has led many voluntary groups to change direction as they chase this short-term funding to survive.

Not enough help for prisoners' children

R. Bennett

The Times, Oct. 19th 2009, p.8

The charity Barnardo's has examined local authority provision for the children of prisoners to find that 90 per cent of them receive no special help, despite being vulnerable to poverty, crime and mental health problems. The research estimated that there are 160,000 such children which is more than twice the number in care. Local authorities must provide a Children's Plan to show their provision for young people in their area; however they are not required by Government to include direct provision for prisoner's children.

Quality matters in children's services: messages from research

M. Stein

London: J. Kingsley, 2009

This research overview reports on the findings of nine studies commissioned as part of Quality Protects, an initiative by the Department of Health in 1998 to transform the management and delivery of children's social services. The research covers a broad range of topics , but there is a particular emphasis on outcomes for looked-after children and how they can be improved. There are studies of care proceedings, kinship care placements, the education of adolescents with emotional and behavioural difficulties, and reuniting looked-after children with their families. The overall aim is to show the difference the quality of care makes to outcomes for children in need both within and outside the care system

Real life as a NEET

N. Rowntree

Children and Young People Now, Sept. 17th-23rd 2009, p. 18-19

Statistics show that one in every six 16- to 24-year-olds in the UK is not in employment, education or training. This article reports interviews with young people trying to access work and training in the recession.

Report on Freedom of Information survey of local authority policies on family and friends care

Family Rights Group in association with the University of Birmingham

London: Family Rights Group, 2009

Research shows that 49% of councils think that family and friends should be considered as the first option for children having to live away from their parents. However, only 73% have a policy for children in kinship care in the looked after system. Some 43% have a policy for children cared for by family and friends outside the looked after system. More than 60% of councils do not have any workers dedicated to supporting kinship carers and 95% do not have explicit eligibility criteria stating which kinship carers of children outside the formal system should receive financial support. Some councils admitted that their policy of keeping children out of the care system was financially driven.

Safeguarding children living with trauma and family violence: evidence-based assessment, analysis and planning interventions

A. Bentovim and others

London: J. Kingsley, 2009

The book offers a systematic approach to evidence-based assessment and planning for children living with trauma and family violence, and shows how to assess and analyse the needs of the child, make specialist assessments where there are continuing safeguarding concerns (using the Assessment Framework) and plan effective child-centred and outcome-focused interventions. It analyses the impact of exposure to a climate of trauma and family violence on a child's bioneurological development and on their capacity to form attachments and to develop and reflect on relationships through childhood and adolescence into adulthood. It further brings together the assessment of children in need with the evaluation of significant harm and risk, and potential for rehabilitation, and also explores the application of evidence-based approaches to intervention.

Social workers knew of most babies killed at home

R. Bennett

The Times, Oct. 15th 2009, p.9

An analysis of serious case reviews by Ofsted has revealed that 19% of the children studied were subject to a child protection plan and yet still suffered serious and even fatal abuse. Two hundred and nineteen children were involved in serious case reviews, of whom 113 died as a result of incidents. Forty four of these were children of less than one. Domestic violence, combined with drug and/or alcohol abuse and mental health problems were present in the households in a number of these cases. Experts say that many social workers are not trained to cope with the complexity of these problems.

Squaring the circle? The state of youth work in some children and young people's services

B. Davies and B. Merton

Youth and Policy, no. 103, 2009, p. 5-24

This article presents the main findings of an inquiry into the state of youth work in the new local authority Children and Young People's Departments. The inquiry set out to sample the experiences and views of staff and young people in 12 youth services judged to be 'good' or 'very good' by Ofsted. It sought to clarify how youth work was currently being conceptualised by managers, field practitioners and young people; how current policies were supporting or impeding its implementation and management; and how these developments were affecting youth workers' professional identity. Many were most preoccupied with the impact of target setting, the targeting of particular sections of the youth population, and increased requirements for information sharing which were eroding trust.

Thinking the unthinkable: youth work without voluntary participation

J. Ord

Youth and Policy, no.103, 2009, p. 39-48

Most youth work theorists and academics maintain that voluntary participation is a necessary precursor to youth work. However, youth workers are increasingly being asked to work in situations where young people have not accessed provision voluntarily, such as in pupil referral units and youth offending teams. On the whole, they are not complaining that what they are being asked to do 'is not youth work'. This article sets out to explore this controversy and to assess the true importance of voluntary participation. It makes a distinction between attendance and participation, and maintains that practice can be participative in settings where young people have not chosen to attend.

Understanding children's social care: politics, policy and practice

N. Frost and N. Parton

London: Sage, 2009

The book provides a comprehensive overview and critical analysis of children's social care in England following the implementation of Every Child Matters and the 2007 Children's Plan. It examines the key issues surrounding child care policy and legislation, and the implications these have for practice. It begins by examining theories and explanations of social change, and goes on to relate these ideologies to social care policy initiatives in the UK. The final part of the book evaluates the implementation of these policies across a range of practice areas.

'We've got the balance wrong'

M. Narey and others

Community Care, Oct. 8th 2009, p. 20-22

Martin Narey, the chief executive of Barnardos, has suggested that social workers spend too much time and effort working with families 'which can't be fixed'. Instead, their children should be taken into care much earlier and put up for adoption. In this article, a range of experts in the field of child protection give their views.

Where drugs rule, children suffer

G. Carson

Community Care, Sept. 24th 2009, p. 18-19

At the heart of the huge problems facing vulnerable children in Scotland is parental drug and alcohol abuse. Social workers are calling for more frontline resources for early intervention, long-term support and joined-up working.

Will vetting checks review go far enough?

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Sept.14th-30th 2009, p. 8-9

The government has announced a review of how regularly adults must come into contact with children before they have to be vetted by the new Independent Safeguarding Authority. There are calls for other aspects of the scheme to be reviewed as they may impact on the ability of organisations to recruit volunteers. The Scouts Association is concerned that the current rules would prevent overseas scout leaders from working with British children during international jamborees.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Oct. 29th 2009, p. 7)

Young, vulnerable and pregnant: family support in practice

J. Halliday and T. Wilkinson

Community Practitioner, vol. 82, Oct.2009, p. 27-30

The early years are recognised as a critical period when intervention can reduce disadvantage over the life course. National policy also emphasises the need to close the gap between the most disadvantaged children and their peers. This article reports on the evaluation of a local project which aims to increase resilience and avert crisis among vulnerable young mothers. It reflects the current emphasis on partnership working and also develops the notion of the paraprofessional link worker as a contact point for the family which can provide information, signposting and emotional support, help co-ordinate services and empower clients.

Youth advice workforce: now and in the future

Youth Access, 2009

This report calls for urgent reform of the youth advice workforce, with the introduction of a specialist qualification and more clearly defined roles and progression routes. It argues that youth workers, personal advisers and other professionals are ill-equipped to provide young people with competent advice on issues such as benefits, housing and careers. Existing youth work and information, advice and guidance qualifications are not fit for purpose.

Youth work in a digital age

T. Davies

Children and Young People Now, Oct. 15th-21st 2009, p.18-19

The author explains how youth workers can use social media to engage with young people in innovative ways. Social networking sites can be used to promote positive activities. Youth workers also have a role in supporting young people to make the most of the opportunities offered by digital media.

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