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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2010): Child welfare - UK

Care-home staffing faces scrutiny

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Dec. 3rd-9th 2009, p. 13

Ofsted is concerned that, while the performance of children's homes generally has been stable since 2007, 'the quality of individual homes fluctuates too much'. Of the 1,644 homes inspected three times or more since 2007, 25% improved, 46% stayed the same, 18% deteriorated, and 11% varied at each inspection. This means that the quality of provision is inconsistent or has dropped in almost a third of children's homes.

Child database breached before it starts

A. Hough and M. Beckford

Daily Telegraph, Jan. 18th 2010, p. 10

The controversial ContactPoint database that contains personal details of every child in England has suffered at least four security breaches even before it is launched at the end of January 2010. An estimated 390,000 teachers, police officers and social workers will be able to access the database once it is launched, and it is generally agreed that information on it will never be entirely secure.

Child trust funds fail poorer families, say Conservatives

R. Williams

The Guardian, Jan 4th 2010, p. 2

The Conservatives say child trust funds are failing to reach those most in need, because official figures show their take-up is higher among wealthy parents. In the ten poorest parliamentary constituencies, only 69% of families claim the money, but in the ten wealthiest areas, 83% of families claim.

Child welfare interventions: patterns of social work practice

D. Hayes and T. Spratt

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 39, 2009, p. 1575-1597

The state faces challenges in working out how it can deliver support to vulnerable families while ensuring that children are protected from abuse. Social workers in the UK are responsible for both managing child protection risks and providing general child welfare services within an integrated system. Case studies of three Northern Ireland Health and Social Services Trusts show that social workers are not well placed to provide general and long term support to families with multiple needs because of their narrow focus on child protection issues. Nor are they likely to be able to intervene early to meet the needs of families whose problems are less entrenched because such families do not reach child protection tariffs.

Children's exposure to domestic violence: holding men to account

J. Devaney

Political Quarterly, vol. 80, 2009, p. 569-574

The devolved administrations in the United Kingdom have published strategies aimed at reducing the incidence of domestic violence while ensuring support for both adult and child victims and stronger sanctions against perpetrators. There is concern that these strategies conceptualise children as innocent bystanders caught up in the adult crossfire and not as victims in their own right. The author calls for social workers to refocus their efforts on both holding men accountable for their behaviour and on engaging with them as fathers in need of help with meeting the needs of their children.

Fathers' rights, gender and welfare: some questions for family law

R. Collier

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, vol. 31, 2009, p. 357-371

The reality of separation and divorce for many parents can sit uneasily with the dominant images of 'good' and 'reasonable' mothers and fathers found in legal policy. The author argues that the emotive aspect of separation has been under-explored within much legal and social policy analysis of fathers' rights and responsibilities. It is important to recognise the significance not only of what fathers rationally think in terms of shaping their behaviour in the process of separation, but also of what they feel and desire. Debates about fathers' rights are more complex and multi-layered than the simplistic deployment of ideas about 'safe fathers' and 'implacably hostile mothers', or 'vengeful' unreasonable parents, would indicate.

From 'absent objects of blame' to 'fathers who want to take responsibility': reforming birth registration law

S. Sheldon

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, vol.31, 2009, p. 373-389

A reform of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 proposed as part of the Welfare Reform Bill 2008-2009 aims to increase the numbers of unmarried fathers who are named on birth certificates. This paper draws on the Green and White papers which preceded this reform to provide an account of what motivated the government to impose joint birth registration, beyond a desire to identify fathers for child support purposes. It identifies a 'geneticisation' of understandings of fatherhood; a commitment to equal treatment of mothers and fathers; an emphasis on independent, unmediated relationships between men and their children; a conflation of men's and children's interests; an understanding of fatherhood as implying active engagement with children; and an optimistic view of the desire of fathers to be involved with their offspring and the utility of this in tackling broader social problems.

Grandparents to be given greater rights over children

R. Bennett

The Times, Jan. 20th 2010, p.12

The Families Green Paper which will form part of Labour's manifesto proposes giving greater access to children by fathers and grandparents following a separation.

(See also: The Guardian, Jan. 20th 2010, p.6 and The Times, Jan. 21st 2010, p.18)

Homes worthy of the name

J. Davidson

Professional Social Work, Jan. 2010, p. 22-23

The National Residential Child Care Initiative in Scotland has developed a blueprint for the future development of children's homes. It calls for: 1) closer collaboration between agencies providing universal and specialist services; 2) improved needs assessment and care planning; 3) a rise in the status, pay and skills of the residential child care workforce; 4) more use of management information to steer commissioning; and 5) more stress on the rights of children in care to participate in decision-making.

Introducing child care social work: contemporary policy and practice

J. Davey and J. Bigmore

Exeter: Learning Matters, 2009

The book describes the challenges of and developments in child care social work in the current context of organisational and social change. Drawing on the experience of social work practitioners who have undertaken the Post Qualifying Child Care Specialist Award, the book shows how these challenges are being met in everyday practice, and provides a forum to share their knowledge and experience with others and contribute to best practice.

Law and the complexities of parenting: parental status and parental function

C. Lind and T. Hewitt

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, vol.31, 2009, p. 391-406

In modern society, there is often a disconnection between genetic links and parental performance. However, mothers who are women who give birth and fathers who are the male genetic progenitors of children have parental status in law. People such as assisted reproduction parents, step-parents and same-sex parents, who spend decades performing a parental role, deserve parental status far more than those who do not but are parents simply by virtue of a genetic link. The authors argue in favour of a fragmentation of parental status to take account of these realities.

Making sense of Every Child Matters: multiprofessional practice guidance

R. Barker (editor)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2009

This book examines the implications of the Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda for working with children. It analyses the key issues from the perspective of the different professions that make up the 'new children's workforce' and explores interprofessional considerations. It describes and analyses the Every Child Matters programme in relation to the wider social context for children. The chapters give an overview of the recent history, current position, and main trends in the development of the specific professions. It includes practice issues and case examples from health, education, social work, playwork, children's centres and early years. It is also takes into account recent changes, including the creation of the new Department of Children, Schools and Families.

Reality check for early intervention rhetoric

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Dec. 3rd-9th 2009, p. 10-11

All three main political parties support early intervention for children and families. However, in the recession local authority directors of children's services need to make the economic case for investing in early intervention, demonstrating that it produces long-term savings.

Relational agency in collaborations for the well-being of children and young people

A. Edwards

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 4, Sept. 2009, p. 33-43

This article focuses on the conditions that are conducive to effective work on reducing children's vulnerability to social exclusion. It draws on three studies that examined how practitioners from different backgrounds learned to collaborate to prevent the social exclusion of children. Two ideas are discussed: distributed expertise and relational agency. Distributed expertise recognises that expertise is distributed across local systems and that practitioners need to become adept at recognising, drawing on and contributing to it. Relational agency offers a finer-grained analysis of what is involved in working in systems of distributed expertise.

Safeguarding children by means of information sharing

J. Forge

Community Practitioner, vol. 83, Jan. 2010, p. 16-19

This small qualitative study explored the role of hospital emergency department records in relation to information sharing in the field of child protection by seeking information about their use by health and social care professionals. Results show that these records are a good tool for communication, but risk factors are not always recognised and they are not sufficiently child focused. Moreover, existing written records may not offer a format which enables staff to record information comprehensively.

Teenagers need safeguarding too

B. Cook

Children and Young People Now, Dec. 3rd-9th 2009, p. 14

There is an assumption that combining children's and young people's safeguarding policies and services sufficiently addresses the needs of both groups. There is a failure to grasp that issues pertaining to safeguarding adolescents are different to those pertaining to children. In fact, current policies are skewed towards children and focus on young people as perpetrators of abuse rather than victims of it.

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