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

Calculating the cost and capacity implications for local authorities implementing the Laming (2009) recommendations

L. Holmes, E.R. Munro and J. Soper

Centre for Child and Family Research, Loughborough University for the Local Government

Association, 2010

This study estimates that the implementation of Lord Laming's recommendations on improving child protection services could cost 116m a year. Recommendation 19 alone, which proposes that social workers should conduct a formal assessment of every child referred to them, would cost 75m a year nationally. The report also costs Laming's proposals for the introduction of more supervision time and better continuing professional development for social workers. If frequency of supervision was increased to fortnightly, this would cost an extra 1,216 for each worker. Introducing additional training for a referral team of five social workers and three family support staff would cost at least 4,180 per year. (For comment see Community Care, Mar. 18th 2010, p. 11)

Balancing children's welfare and autonomy: the health system versus the justice system

W. Cheng

Family Law, Apr. 2010, p. 391-393

This article considers some of the difficulties involved in trying to balance respect for children's autonomy in decision-making and safeguarding their well-being. Two specific aspects are considered, first the domestic and international recognition of the child's right to autonomy in decision-making, and second, the conflict of interests between respecting children's autonomy in decision-making and protecting their welfare in the context of healthcare and the youth criminal justice system.

Better by far

M. Garboden

Community Care, Mar. 11th 2010, p. 18-19

Swindon's safeguarding and looked-after children's services recently received one of the highest Ofsted ratings in the country, although ten years ago the council was in intervention following a disastrous inspection. This article looks at how Swindon turned its children's services around through outstanding leadership and management.

Evidence for child welfare practice

M. Austin (editor)

London: Routledge, 2010

This book provides a 'work-in-progress' that seeks to capture the micro (direct service) and macro (managerial) perspectives related to identifying evidence for practice within the domain of public child welfare. In Part I, the articles cover child welfare assessment and child welfare outcomes. In Part II, the focus is on organizational issues that relate to evidence for management practice. This section includes an overview of evidence-based practice from an organizational perspective along with evidence related to the experiences of others in implementing evidence-based practice. This book pushes the discussion of evidence-based practice in several new directions regarding:

  1. the use of structured reviews to complement the systematic reviews of the Cochrane and Campbell Collaboratives
  2. the process of viewing the call for evidence-based practice as a goal or future vision and evidence for practice as providing a more immediate approach to promote evidence-informed practice
  3. a recognition that evidence-informed practice is part of building agency-based knowledge sharing systems that involve the tacit and explicit knowledge needed to improve the outcomes of social services.

Improving outcomes for young children: can we narrow the gap?

G. Pugh

Early Years, vol.30, 2010, p. 5-14

The Labour governments in power between 1997 and 2010 dramatically expanded services for young children in England, driven by their commitment to eradicate child poverty. At the same time two bodies of academic research have respectively reinforced the importance of high quality learning for young children and revisited the key role of parenting in child development. The combination of the anti-poverty agenda driving increases in daycare and the research into child development and children's learning driving the 'education' agenda has led to a substantial increase in provision, with government investment of well over 20bn. This article examines how the gap between children who do well and those who do not fulfil their potential can be narrowed through intervention and support in the early years, describing the work of the Narrowing the Gap project, which continues with the Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children's Services.

Left behind by Laming

M. Garboden

Community Care, Apr. 1st 2010, p. 18-19

The second Laming report has led local authority children's services departments to focus on protecting young victims of long-term physical abuse. The needs of other groups of vulnerable children are now being neglected, including victims of sexual abuse, teenagers at risk of sexual exploitation, children of mentally ill parents and disabled children.

Legislative scrutiny: Children, Schools and Families Bill; other bills

Joint Committee on Human Rights

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC 369)

The Children, Schools and Families Bill contains a wide range of measures, the most relevant of which for the Committee's purposes are the introduction of a system of 'guarantees' for parents and pupils; the introduction of mandatory sex and relationships education in schools; provision of reporting of family court proceedings; and the introduction of a licensing scheme for teachers. The Committee welcomes many of the provisions of the Bill, but in this report sets out some points of concern in these areas.

A luxury or a necessity?

J. Cooper

Community Care, Mar. 18th 2010, p. 18-19

Therapeutic approaches to social work are making a comeback under the banner of reflective practice. There is a general recognition that relationship-based work is a vital element missing from social work practice which has become dominated by care planning. However attempts to train more social workers in therapeutic approaches could be thwarted by rising caseloads and tightened budgets in children's services.

Multi-agency working in the early years: challenges and opportunities

M. Gasper

London: Sage, 2010

Enhancing the delivery of services to children, parents and communities is essential if we are to address the detrimental effects of poverty and exclusion. Looking at the birth to 8 age range and drawing on interviews with Children's Centre leaders, the book considers:

  • the benefits, and complexities, of multi-agency working
  • what enables, and impedes, good practice
  • examples of successful multi-agency working
  • what the 'new professionals' look like
  • international perspectives.

Performing 'initial assessment': identifying the latent conditions for error at the front-door of local authority children's services

K. Broadhurst and others

British Journal of Social Work, vol.40, 2010, p. 352-370

In recent years, the initial assessment of children referred to local authority social services has been heavily formalised. IT systems, now generically known as the integrated children's system, have been universally implemented, forcing workers to follow the various steps specified in a formally defined 'model' of the assessment process. A standardised on-screen form prompts social workers carrying out an initial assessment to collect information in a systematic way. Social workers also operate within a range of timescales and targets, which mandate the length of time after referral by which actions must be completed. In this tightly controlled system, social workers take short cuts to maintain their workflow and meet their targets, leading to dangerous errors.

Scholarly Gove to wage war on bureaucracy

R. Chandiramani

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 6th -12th 2010, p. 8-9

Conservative Michael Gove outlines his party's policies on children's services and education. Top of the agenda is a desire to banish bureaucracy to enable practitioners to get on with their jobs, and to ensure that the principal purpose of children's policy is to raise attainment in schools.

Social workers 'too quick to take children into care'

C. Gemmell and M. Evans

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 13th 2010, p. 8

Social workers have been accused of trying to take children away from their mothers too quickly by two senior judges in the Court of Appeal commenting on two similar cases. The article gives details of the cases.

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