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

The 2010 report

F. Shaheen and others

Children and Young People Now, Jan. 7th-11th 2010, p. 7-14

A range of experts addresses the issues that will confront people working with children and youth in 2010, covering youth unemployment, childcare, education, youth crime, child poverty, information sharing, positive activities, children's health, the care system and inspections.

The case for reforms to England's care system

J. Cooper

Community Care, Jan. 28th 2010, p. 10-11

The care system and family courts in England are in crisis due to a 46% rise in referrals by local authorities following the Baby Peter scandal. This report gives the views of experts from across the child welfare sector on what changes are needed to reduce the pressure.

(See also Children and Young People Now, Jan. 26th-Feb. 1st 2010, p. 9)

Child abuse deaths still rising, despite action after Baby P

R. Bennett

The Times, Feb. 1st 2010, p. 11

Figures obtained by John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham and Yardley, show that almost two-thirds of children killed or injured each year are known to social workers. There were 186 notifications of death or serious injury in 2009 compared to 144 in 2008.

Child poverty goal slips from focus

J. Lepper

Children and Young People Now, Jan. 12th-18th 2010, 11

It is now widely accepted that the government's ambitious pledge to halve child poverty by the end of 2010 will not be met. With unemployment rising due to the recession, the government's wider pledge of ending child poverty by 2020 is now in jeopardy. Children's campaigners and social policy experts are urging politicians not to give up on the target.

Cost of childcare soars by twice the rate of inflation despite recession

R. Ramesh

The Guardian, Feb. 10th 2010, p. 6

According to findings from the annual survey by the Daycare Trust, the national childcare charity, the cost of a nursery place for children aged over two rose by twice the inflation rate last year while childcare for a toddler now swallows half the gross earnings of an average parent in England working part-time. Despite the recession, nursery fees rose by 5.1%.

(See also The Independent, Feb. 10th 2010, p. 1 & 4)

Critical perspectives on safeguarding children

K. Broadhurst, C. Grover and J. Jamieson (editors)

Chichester: Wiley, 2009

The book provides a multi-disciplinary analysis of current approaches to safeguarding children in the UK. It addresses the strengths, weaknesses and complexities inherent in the Government's objective of promoting opportunities for children through the Every Child Matters (ECM) framework. This book identifies key tensions and dilemmas in areas of policy and practice, and a number of significant questions are raised which, it is argued, need to be addressed if the aspirations of the ECM agenda are to be fully realised. Drawing contributors from the disciplines of criminology, education, geography, health, philosophy, social policy and social work, this book provides an up-to-date overview of policy and practice that encourages students to think broadly across traditional subject boundaries with regard to the safeguarding agenda.

Dozens of centres helping vulnerable children to be shut in NSPCC shakeup

R. Ramesh

The Guardian, Feb. 15th 2010, p. 4

The NSPCC is to close centres and shed possibly hundreds of jobs as part of a significant restructuring exercise aiming to make the charity more cost-effective. Under the three-year plan, staff will be withdrawn from 180 local centres into forty or fifty large offices, some of the 800 child protection jobs will go, and other staff will be moved out of the London headquarters.

The Family Drug Court

T. de Castella

Children and Young People Now, Jan. 12th-18th 2010, p. 18-19

This article introduces the work of Britain's first Family Drug and Alcohol Court. Based on an American model, it aims to break the cycle of parental drug and alcohol abuse resulting in children being taken into care.

Giving children a healthy start

Audit Commission

London: 2010

An estimated 10.9bn has been spent, directly and indirectly, on improving the health of under-fives in England since 1998. Of this, 7.2bn has been spent on the Sure Start programme which provides children's centres and family education about health and nutrition. In spite of this massive investment, the study shows that health outcomes for the under-fives have changed only marginally. The gap between rich and poor has not improved, dental health has worsened, and obesity rates have risen. It is concluded that better value for money could have been obtained if local authorities and NHS bodies had worked together towards a joint set of targets, supported by a clear government policy that was not regularly changed. The report also raised concerns about the world class commissioning programme, which has led to confusion between children's trusts and primary care trusts in some areas about responsibility for children's health.

Healthy relations?

J. Griffiths

Community Care, Feb. 11th 2010, p. 20-21

Social workers report a widespread failure by GPs to engage with child safeguarding strategies and attend case conferences. GPs are reluctant to share information because of concerns about patient confidentiality and do not understand their child protection responsibilities. This article explores how inter-professional relationships can be improved.

How is childcare faring in the recession?

J. Caluori

Working Brief, issue 209, Nov. 2009, p. 12-13

Over the past ten years the government has expanded childcare provision to enable parents to return to work, and to redress the effects of social deprivation on children's life chances by giving them a high quality early years experience. With childcare playing vital role for families and the economy as a whole, this article explores the question of whether the market is resilient enough to survive the current recession, or whether providers will fail because of falling occupancy.

Is depriving a child of food murder?

J. Mahadevan

Children and Young People Now, Jan. 19th-25th 2010, p. 12

The Law Commission has proposed that parents who knowingly fail to give their children enough food and water should be charged with attempted murder instead of child neglect as at present. Experts in the field give their views on these proposals.

Media access to family courts and Article 8 compliance

N. Mole

Family Law, Jan. 2010, p. 75-83

In the Summer of 2009 the Justice Secretary indicated that a Bill would be introduced into Parliament which would include provisions to allow the media to view documents filed in family court proceedings and subsequently use the information in their reports. This article assesses the compliance of such provisions with the right to 'private and family life' safeguarded by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

(See also Family Law, Feb. 2010, p. 190-195)

Minister-in-waiting gets ready for battle

R. Chandiramani

Children and Young People Now, Jan. 12th-18th 2010, p. 8-9

Report of an interview with Conservative shadow children's minister Tim Loughton, in which he explains his party's policies for young people. He advocates the introduction of 'National Citizen Service' as a 'rite of passage' for 16-year-olds; contracting out of local authority youth services to the Third Sector; and Ofsted inspectors giving services support to improve as provided by the former Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI).

Pre-budget report 2009

Treasury Committee

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC 180)

Amongst other issues, the Committee examined the current situation regarding the Government's commitment to eradicate child poverty, notwithstanding the limited progress that has been made to date, and the UK's changing economic circumstances. It recommends that the Government clearly sets out the steps it proposes to take to move nearer to its 2010-11 target in the time available and to achieve the eradication of child poverty by 2020.

Rescuing the Family Justice System

A. Poyser

Family Law, Jan. 2010, p.58-62

The Family Justice System in England is in crisis and at the point of collapse due to rising demand. Referrals for public and private law children cases rose by 40% and 50% respectively between September 2008 and September 2009. The author calls for the establishment of a Task Force to develop a blueprint for radical reform.

Squeezing the toothpaste tube: will tackling court delay result in pre-court delay in its place?

B. McKeigue and C. Beckett

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 40, 2010, p. 154-169

This article describes a study that looked at all care proceedings undertaken by one English local authority over the period of one year. The study was prompted by concerns that children were enduring long periods of uncertainty in difficult situations while their future was being decided by the courts. This discussion focuses on delay and insecurity prior to court proceedings taking place. It offers evidence that current initiatives to reduce court delay may have the unintended consequence of increasing pre-court delay.

Teenage children in the UK: the lost generation?

A. Hayden

Family Law, Jan. 2010, p. 69-74

Strenuous efforts are made to help vulnerable children up to the age of 10 through the family law and child protection systems. They are also more likely to be adopted if taken into care and unable to return to their families. However, young people over 10 from dysfunctional families are more likely to remain in local authority care, and drift into crime and antisocial behaviour. The author argues that these youngsters should be dealt with through the family justice system rather than the criminal courts. Criminal sanctions and custodial sentences are ineffective and the criminal law route does not provide access to the specialist help that they require.

Will children's homes cope with councils cutting fees?

M. Garboden

Community Care, Feb. 4th 2010, p. 18-19

Many children's homes are struggling to survive in the face of low occupancy, unpredictable demand and council funding cuts. This article reports on how they can fight back and become sustainable.

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