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

20 years on: the impact of the 1989 Children Act

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Oct. 29th-Nov.4th 2009, p. 8-9

The Children Act 1989is regarded as a landmark piece of legislation. It is regarded as a pioneering attempt to create a child-centred approach to welfare. In this article, a number of experts in the field comment on its successes and failures.

(See also Community Care, Oct. 29th 2009, p. 7 +18-22)

Adult involvement in children's participation: juggling children's places and spaces

M. Wyness

Children and Society, vol. 23, 2009, p. 395-406

In recent years research has concentrated on children's experiences of active participation in decision-making. However, given that adults within these participatory contexts are still crucial conduits and mediators, it is important to look at the roles that they play. This article looks at the ways in which professionals support children's participation in pupil and civic councils in England.

Appointment of the Children's Commissioner for England

Children, Schools and Families Committee

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09: HC 998)

The Children's Commissioner for England, established through the Children's Act 2004, is independent of Government and works on behalf of children and young people to raise the issues that affect them and tackle barriers to the outcomes set out in Every Child Matters. Maggie Atkinson, Director of Children's Services at Gateshead Council, had been identified as the Government's preferred candidate to take up the post of Children's Commissioner for England when the term of office of the present incumbent, Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, comes to an end in February 2010. The Children, Schools and Families Committee (the Committee) conducted a pre-appointment hearing seeking to test the professional competence and personal independence of the candidate. During the course of the questioning, they explored the candidate's perception of the powers and nature of the Commissioner's role, her priorities should her appointment be confirmed, and her views on the promotion of children's rights. While the Committee are satisfied that Maggie Atkinson demonstrated a high degree of professional competence, they feel unable to endorse her appointment, as they would like to have seen more signs of determination to assert the independence of the role, to challenge the status quo on children's behalf, and to stretch the remit of the post, in particular by championing children's rights.

Bringing rights home for children: arguing the UNCRC

A. MacDonald

Family Law, Nov. 2009, p. 1073-1078

To be of real value to children, the rights articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) must be enforceable in domestic law. Judgments of the House of Lords make it clear that domestic legislation should be interpreted and applied in a manner consistent with the UK's obligations under the UNCRC. This provides a channel through which the rights enshrined in the UNCRC can be projected in domestic proceedings.

Combatting child poverty

R. Singler

Working Brief, July 2009, p. 6-9

The Child Poverty Bill, introduced in the House of Commons in June 2009, aims to enshrine in legislation the Government's commitment to eradicate child poverty by 2020. It sets out targets that, at both national and local level, the government must work towards to drive progress. It also sets out terms of reference for a new Child Poverty Commission that will provide independent advice on how targets can be met. This article summarises the changes that the Child Poverty Bill will introduce.

The descriptive tyranny of the Common Assessment Framework: technologies of categorization and professional practice in child welfare

S. White, C. Hall and S. Peckover

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 39, 2009, p.1197-1217

The Common assessment framework (CAF) is a standard assessment tool to be used by all professionals working with children for assessment and referral. It was hailed as a needs-led, evidence-based tool that would promote uniformity, ensure appropriate 'early intervention', reduce referral rates to local authority children's services and lead to the evolution of a 'common language' amongst child welfare professionals. This article seeks to illustrate the impact of the CAF as a technology on everyday professional practice in child welfare.

Families face health and safety checks

J. Bingham

Daily Telegraph, Nov. 16th 2009, p.4

Reports that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence has drawn up draft guidelines recommending that health and safety inspectors should be allowed into homes to check whether parents are doing enough to prevent children having accidents. Hospital and social services records would be examined to identify families where children could be at risk. Information on families' home safety arrangements could be stored on a new database available to councils, NHS bodies, housing associations, police and the fire brigade.

Forming partnerships with parents from a community development perspective: lessons learnt from Sure Start

V. MacNeill

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol.17, 2009, p.659-665

This study aims to explore some of the issues of service user participation in the planning and delivery of public services from a community development perspective. It draws on an action research evaluation study of a local Sure Start programme, which was introduced into an area without a tradition of community involvement in decisions about local services. It describes and analyses the challenges of parent participation in the organisation and delivery of the Sure Start programme at an operational and strategic level. The main findings are that there was a lack of shared understanding between parents and professionals of the nature of parent participation in all its facets and this undermined the efforts of parents and staff in the development of the programme.

Hidden talents II: getting the best out of Britain's young people

Centre for Social Justice and Local Government Association

London: Local Government Association, 2009

This report looks at the role that local authorities can play in addressing the problem of disengaged young people. Councils could provide more accredited programmes and expand volunteering opportunities locally. A more 'locally tailored' approach could be taken to provision of information, advice and guidance. It recommends tackling the root causes of disengagement through early intervention and family support delivered by health visitors and voluntary organisations. Services could be delivered through a network of physical centres for families where support such as debt counselling and couples therapy could be offered. Finally, benefits rules could be varied locally to enable young people to receive social security payments while undertaking volunteering or informal learning.

Home alone: pupils discuss the risks

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Nov. 12th-18th 2009, p. 14

Recent changes in legislation could lead to more children being left alone at home. Confusion over Ofsted registration requirements could pose a threat to informal childcare arrangements between friends, while reforms to the benefits system mean that single parents must start looking for a job when their child turns seven, as opposed to twelve.

How do you solve a problem like 50,000 chaotic families?

A. Gentleman

The Guardian, Nov 2nd 2009, pp.12-13

This special report looks at Government policy and local action to tackle anti-social behaviour with intervention projects. It looks in detail at the example of a successful project in Dundee, including the financial costs involved and the estimated savings achieved.

Nurseries air funding formula fears

R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, Nov. 12th-18th 2009, p. 10

The Early Years Single Funding Formula takes effect in April 2010. It is intended to ensure that, through the Dedicated Schools Grant, money for free childcare for three- and four-year-olds is distributed fairly and transparently. This article explains the anxieties the reform is causing in both council-run nursery schools and in the voluntary and independent sector.

Parents with learning disabilities: perceived incidence and needs

H. Barkby and others

Community Practitioner, vol. 82, Nov. 2009, p. 34-37

Government policy in the UK supports the right of people with learning disabilities to become parents and recognises their need for help from statutory services. In this study, focus groups were conducted involving 35 members of community health visiting teams in an English region in order to identify estimated incidence and needs of parents with learning disabilities, and the needs of services supporting them. Results showed that significant numbers of parents with learning disabilities access health visiting services. These parents have important additional needs, requiring support above and beyond what is available at present. Within health visiting teams, there is a need for greater resources, information, training and consultation forums to increase staff knowledge and provide support. There is also a need for improved co-operation between services, with particular emphasis on liaison with specialist learning disability teams.

Prevalence, people and processes: a consideration of the implications of Lord Laming's progress report on the protection of children in England

J.J. Driscoll

Child Abuse Review, vol.18, 2009, p. 333-345

Media coverage of the death of Baby Peter revived national concern about child protection standards in England following implementation of widespread structural changes recommended by Lord Laming in his report on the murder of Victoria Climbié. This article discusses the recommendations of Lord Laming's subsequent progress report commissioned in November 2008 following the Baby Peter scandal. It is suggested that services cannot be improved by structural change alone, and that more investment is needed in professionals and in changing the culture of social care in the UK.

Quality, choice and aspiration: a strategy for young people's information, advice and guidance

Department for Children, Schools and Families

2009

This new government strategy for information, advice and guidance for young people makes clear that services need to improve. Connexions has 18 months to prove its worth, or face review. The strategy also promises careers lessons for primary school children, online advice services, improved work experience and widespread personal tutoring and mentoring. By Spring 2010, the Children's Workforce Development Council and Lifelong Learning UK will propose new qualifications for the sector. By Summer 2010 reports from the Taskforce on the Careers Profession and an Education and Employers Taskforce will propose further improvements.

URL: http://publications.dcsf.gov.uk/eOrderingDownload/IAG-Report-v2.pdf

Recent policy initiatives in early childhood and the challenges for the social work profession

K. Winter

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 39, 2009, p. 1235-1255

Since the Labour government came to power in 1997, there has been huge investment in infrastructure and services for young children and their families. Many of the recent policy and practice initiatives have implications for social workers. Yet social work as a profession has remained relatively silent on these initiatives. This article sets out to address the gap by providing a critical analysis of: what types of knowledge regarding the early years have gained political currency; why and how this is the case; and what the implications are for the role and practice of social workers. The article proposes that discourses of 'need' and 'provision' mask more powerful discourses of economics, social control and risk avoidance.

Revealed: hidden misery of children trafficked to Britain

R. Verkaik

The Independent, Nov. 3rd 2009, p. 16

A report by the Children's Society charity has found that hundreds of children trafficked to Britain each year are being failed by social workers, teachers and doctors. The findings suggest that when trafficked children try to escape from imprisonment in Britain, their cries for help are ignored or negligently handled by UK agencies.

Safe in cyberspace

N. Rowntree

Children and Young People Now, Nov. 12th-18th 2009, p. 20-21

The widespread use of digital technologies has resulted in the emergence of new types of bullying among children and youth. This article introduces CyberMentors, a new initiative to tackle the problem by training young people as mentors to offer advice to victims.

Safeguarding children in primary health care

J. Taylor and M. Themessl-Huber (editors)

London: J. Kingsley, 2009

Safeguarding children from harm has, until recently, been driven primarily by social work practitioners. With current shifts in child care and protection practice and policy, combined with an overwhelming message of 'working together', primary health care professionals have an increasingly central part to play. This book provides an overview of the challenges primary health care professionals now face in recognising and responding to concerns about a child's safety from abuse and neglect. It provides practical accounts and perspectives from a range of frontline practitioners working with children, parents and carers, backed up by theoretical insights from leading academics in the field. Issues explored include: media coverage of child abuse and neglect cases, inter-professional collaboration, competing professional priorities and resources, practical workload decisions and personal experiences and anxieties.

The subtext to birth parent contact

J. Stephenson

Community Care, Nov. 5th 2009, p. 18-19

Regulating contact between children in care and their birth parents has always been a delicate issue, but the advent of social networking sites and text messaging has made it even more challenging. Unregulated contact with birth parents through these channels may be unsettling for vulnerable children and may be used to destabilise placements.

Third of serious child abuse enquiries 'are inadequate'

G. Hurst

The Times, Nov. 25th 2009, p. 5

Ofsted's annual report, published yesterday has said that the standard of children's services provided by one in three councils is inadequate. Standards in schools have continued to improve overall, but the number of serious case reviews (which examine cases of death or serious harm to children) surged last year after the Baby P case in Haringey.

(See also The Independent, Nov. 25th 2009, p. 8)

Time for better management

C. Williams

Community Care, Oct. 22nd 2009, p. 18-19

Proposed new national minimum standards stipulate that all managers employed by children's homes and adoption and fostering agencies, must have relevant qualifications and experience in children's social care and management as well as NVQ level 4. Previous minimum standards had granted providers a five-year transition period to allow staff to gain qualifications, but recruitment concerns have led to pleas for more time.

Vetting and barring: a user's guide

C. Williams

Community Care, Oct. 15th 2009, p. 16-17

The new Vetting and Barring Scheme for people working with children and vulnerable adults has been the object of intense media and public criticism. This is due to a mistaken belief that it will regulate informal activities such as parents lift sharing when taking their children to school. In order to allay these fears, the scheme is being reviewed. This article summarises what is known and what still needs to be clarified about the scheme.

'Where are we going to place her?'

S. Gillen

Community Care, Oct. 15th 2009, p. 18-19

Fostering agencies report a dramatic increase in the number of children referred for placement by social services since the Baby P scandal broke in November 2008. Children are coming into the care system younger, before a cycle of family support has been offered. More children are being placed temporarily in foster care, and returned home within one to three months.

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