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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2010): Child welfare - overseas

Childcare? Early childhood education and care? Towards an integrated early years policy for young children in Ireland

N. Hayes

Early Years, vol.30, 2010, p. 67-78

Historically, Irish government policy has maintained a clear distinction between childcare and early education, and has not regarded children's rights and needs as of crucial importance. This is now beginning to change due to the current economic crisis and to the ratification by Ireland of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Government is now shifting to support a free preschool year for all children and away from provision of targeted subsidies to working parents to purchase childcare. The introduction of a commitment to free universal preschool provision provides a context for the conceptual and structural integration of care and education. The new policy also provides an opportunity to locate children and their rights at the centre of provision.

Childcare: welfare or investment?

A. Conley

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 19, 2010, p. 173-181

Childcare has traditionally served three important purposes: substitute care for children while their parents work; educational opportunities to promote cognitive and emotional development; and interventions intended to help poor and disadvantaged children. This article contends that childcare with enriched services for disadvantaged children represents an investment in their capacities, not simply a form of welfare provision. The Head Start programme in the United States and the Integrated Child Development Scheme in India are used to illustrate this argument.

Innovation in child welfare: the adoption and implementation of family group decision making in Pennsylvania

M.E. Rauktis and others

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 32, 2010, p. 732-739

Adopting and sustaining new interventions in child welfare can be a challenging process. One promising child welfare intervention is family group decision making (FGDM). Despite evidence that it increases family participation in planning and reduces child protective services events, FGDM has been described as a marginalised practice. This paper examines the adoption of FGDM in Pennsylvania, looking at the macro or system level at need, characteristics of the child welfare agencies, and the neighbourhood factors. A mixed methods design is employed in order to study these interrelationships, using geographic autocorrelation modelling and an analysis of qualitative information about adoption and implementation of FGDM. This approach enables us to have a more complete understanding of what factors may be at play when child welfare agencies adopt new practices.

'The law cannot terminate bloodlines': families and child welfare decisions

C. Shdaimah

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 32, 2010, p. 704-710

US child welfare policies are largely governed by changes made to the Child Welfare Act in 1997 by the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Although this legislation mandates child protective service agencies to work concurrently towards reunification and out of home placement, with a preference for reunification wherever possible, the law actually provides greater resources and incentives for placement out of the home. Interviews with child welfare professionals and family members show general agreement that biological families are preferable to substitute care because of the importance of family ties to parents and children. However, both child welfare professionals and parents perceive that current policies favour substitute, legally mandated families over biological families. Many child welfare professionals end up making decisions that contradict their judgement of what is best for children.

Macro impacts on caseworker decision-making in child welfare: a cross-national comparison

J. Duffy and M.E. Collins

European Journal of Social Work, vol.13, 2010, p. 35-54

This paper compares two countries, the United States and Northern Ireland, with regard to the factors impacting on decision-making in child and family social work. For each of the countries the historical and political context of child welfare is described, particularly the tension between child safety and family support, and how children's rights are attended to and interpreted in each country. The discussion also examines the extent to which decision-making in each jurisdiction is influenced by constitutional imperatives, with particular reference to the US Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Swedish welfare responses to ethnicity: the case of children and their families

K. Pringle

European Journal of Social Work, vol. 13, 2010, p. 19-34

The dominant academic analyses of Esping-Andersen present a highly positive picture of the performance of the Swedish social welfare system in comparison with other countries in the area of cash transfers and poverty alleviation. However, the picture is less rosy when the system is analysed in terms of racism and discrimination through a data from a qualitative study which explored discourses about ethnicity, gender and age in the Swedish child welfare system.

Who should care for our kids? The effects of infant child care on early child development

D. Peng and P.K. Robins

Journal of Children and Poverty, vol. 16, 2010, p. 1-45

This paper examines the relationship between various types of child care during the first year of a child's life and child language and social development at age three, using data from the US Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a birth cohort of children born to low-income single mothers. The results indicate that compared with maternal care, relative care during infancy has more beneficial effects on a child's language development, while day care centres have more beneficial effects on a child's behavioural development.

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