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

Balls to fight on frontline child protection pledge

L. Higgs

Children and Youth Services Review, Apr. 13th-19th 2010, p. 8-9

In advance of the 2010 general election, Labour Children's Secretary Ed Balls claims that his party will increase spending on early years provision, Sure Start, schools and 16-19 education and training in spite of the country's massive fiscal deficit. He contrasts Conservative budget cuts with Labour investment in services.

Breaking the vicious cycle

Anon.

Early Years Matters, issue 17, 2010, p. 26-27

This article discusses an early intervention project designed to lead the way in improving parent-child relationships. Its aim is to support vulnerable and over-stressed parents who may have difficulties in developing positive relationships with their children by identifying at-risk families before problems develop. The service began within Sure Start and was subsequently introduced by a cluster of children's centres before being commissioned by the local Primary Care Trust.

Child benefit should be taxed, thinktank says

A. Gentleman

The Guardian, May 20th 2010, p. 14

According to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), some child benefits should be taxed and the money raised given to Britain's poorest families. Instead of an across-the-board cut expected to be announced soon as part of radical reforms of the benefits system, the IPPR proposes increasing the benefit for lower income families by taxing payments to families on middle and higher incomes. The IPPR claims this could lift 350,000 children out of poverty.

Decrease in full care orders masks rise in child protection referrals and plans

Anon

Community Care, Apr. 29th 2010, p. 11

The number of full care orders made by the courts has fallen by 8% between 2007 and 2009. Respondents to an Association of Directors of Children's Services survey blamed the fall on delays in appointing children's guardians and increased use of specialist and independent assessments by the courts. Full care orders are now taking over a year to complete, compared with Lord Laming's recommendation of 45 weeks.

Don't ignore the father

N. Valios

Community Care, May 13th 2010, p. 16-17

There is strong evidence that social workers are ignoring both the positive and negative impacts of fathers and other male visitors to the household on vulnerable children. Social workers need to be trained to include basic details about the men in children's lives in risk and needs assessments.

The early years single funding formula

Children, Schools and Families Committee

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC 131)

The early years single funding formula (the formula) is intended to replace the different methods currently used to fund early years settings in the maintained sector as well as the private, voluntary and independent sectors. Each local authority will in future use the same criteria for every setting in its area when allocating funds for education and care provided under the free entitlement for three and four year olds. The formula has however resulted in winners and losers; the greatest losers being maintained nursery schools which provide a very high quality of education and care, setting the standard for others to follow. Overall the difficulties encountered so far with the formula have arisen because of its implementation rather than the concept. Local authorities were encouraged to offer settings a supplement to the basic hourly rate of funding to recognise high quality provision but many have not done so. A quality supplement should be made mandatory. The Government was correct in deciding to defer full implementation until April 2011 and the year's delay must be used to restore stability and rework funding formulae where necessary. Sir Jim Rose's proposals to encourage entry to primary school in the September following a child's fourth birthday will have far-reaching consequences for early years funding but blur the distinction between early years and primary education. The Government should examine whether a unified funding system should be introduced for all children aged from two to 11 years old.

The emerging social pedagogical paradigm in UK child and youth care: Deus ex Machina or walking the beaten path?

F. Coussée and others

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 40, 2010, p. 789-805

Interest in the import of the European concept of social pedagogy into the UK has emerged in a context where child and youth care is criticised with regard to (i) fragmentation of care, (ii) the professional workforce, and (iii) relationships with children and young people. Social pedagogy is believed to be able to promote shared values and skills across different fields in education and care that have been historically distinct. In this article, the authors first briefly describe recent developments concerning the import of social pedagogy into the UK. Next they comment on the potential of the concept, raising two main concerns: (i) the risk of reducing social pedagogy to an individual approach to social problems; and (ii) the risk of restricting it to Beziehungsarbeit, focusing solely on the pedagogical relation. The article concludes with some implications for the UK variant of social pedagogy in which a plea is made for its recognition as a perspective on social work.

An examination of the factors that facilitate and hinder the care planning process for very young children in Scotland

L. Davidson and K. McKenzie

Adoption and fostering, vol.34, no.1, 2010, p. 33-40

This study examined the care planning process for very young children in Scotland using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Data were gathered from case files on 18 looked-after children aged 0-2 years. A qualitative approach was used to explore the views of six randomly selected social workers about current practice in relation to care planning. The social workers identified a number of factors which both facilitated and hindered the care planning process and in a number of cases the same factor was identified as doing both. The most commonly identified factor was waiting for an expert assessment. This could cause serious delays but once completed was often the catalyst for change.

Families face child safety checks

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, May 18th 2010, p. 8

Draft guidelines issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommend that all parents with children aged five and under should allow health inspectors into their homes to check that windows, doors, cookers, heaters, and hot water taps are safe. The recommendations come amid concern over the rising cost to the NHS of treating injured children.

Family nurse partnerships

Anon.

Early Years Matters, issue 17, 2010, p. 25

This article features the new Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) early intervention programme that aims to support first-time teenage mothers and is being piloted in Scotland. The programme is a nurse-delivered, intensive, home-based intervention that is initiated in pregnancy and aims to improve pregnancy outcomes, child health and development, getting ready for school, and parent self-sufficiency.

Inside outsourced youth services

R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, May 4th-10th 2010, p. 12

Conservative controlled councils in Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire have contracted out their youth services to the voluntary and private sectors. Buckinghamshire is also developing plans to outsource its youth service to the voluntary sector. This article looks at the advantages and disadvantages of the model.

Is CWDC youth workforce reform on the right track?

R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 20th-26th 2010, p.11

The Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) is working to reform the youth workforce. It is introducing a new Youth Professional Status to be gained by completing a degree and an assessment based on a number of standards developed by the CWDC. These include showing a commitment to integrated working, sharing best practice and demonstrating management skills.

Is social exclusion a useful concept in children's services?

N. Axford

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 40, 2010, p. 737-754

The concept of social exclusion has a high profile in children's services in the UK. It is important, therefore, to ask whether and in what sense a social exclusion perspective changes the way in which services seek to define and help vulnerable children. This article examines the claim that the concept is often used to re-cast traditionally recognised problems in a new light without offering any fresh insight. It contrasts a social exclusion discourse with (i) a risk and protective factor model and associated attempts to meet need and (ii) a focus on tackling poverty. It is argued that a social exclusion perspective offers helpful insights into child well-being and the shape of children's services, but that these could be exploited more fully, and that many of its perceived benefits in terms of service orientation actually sit as well if not better within existing conceptual frameworks.

Jury out on grassroots-run services

J. Mahadevan and R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 13th-19th 2010, p. 12

In the run-up to the 2010 general election, both the Conservatives and the Labour Party unveiled plans for employee- and public-led services in the fields of education, early years provision, and children's social services. These plans for employee and public ownership of services have met a cool reception from professionals.

The most demanding post in town

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, May 4th-10th, 2010, p. 11

The summary dismissal of Director of Children's Services Sharon Shoesmith by Haringey Council after the death of Baby P may have discouraged other professionals from taking up the role. The government is trying to help by running programmes to support Directors of Children's Services through the National College.

Nurseries close as recession-hit parents struggle to pay rising fees

S. Cassidy

The Independent, May 14th 2010, p. 21

Last year nursery fees rose by an average of 4 per cent, roughly double the rate of inflation for 2009, according to Laing and Buisson's Nursery Sector Report. The increase has had a marked effect on the number of children attending nurseries which dropped by 4 per cent during 2009, with the recession and rising unemployment leading families to scale back their childcare costs.

Parties challenged on children's rights

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, May 11th-17th 2010, p.12

The Children's Rights Alliance for England wrote to the three main political parties in advance of the 2010 general election asking six questions about their stance on children's rights. This article examines their responses.

A presumption to disclose: new laws on the provision of information about child sex offenders to parents in England and Wales

T. Thomas

Child Abuse Review, vol. 19, 2010, p. 97-106

In England and Wales, agencies managing child sex offenders in the community have long had the power to disclose information about them to other agencies and sometimes to members of the public. In 2008, new laws were passed that allowed designated members of the public to request such information and imposed a new duty on agencies considering disclosure to conduct those considerations with a 'presumption to disclose'.

Record the narrative, not data

J. Cooper and C. Pemberton

Community Care, Apr. 29th 2010, p. 16-17

The Conservative Party is committed to reducing red tape and bureaucracy in child protection services. This article reports interviews with two experts who would be advising a Conservative government in this field, focusing on reform of record keeping and the importance of early intervention in struggling families.

The role of communities in safeguarding children and young people

G. Jack and O. Gill

Child Abuse Review, vol.19, 2010, p. 82-96

Using ecological theory, which emphasises the central importance of recognising the connections between the individual, family, and community components of children's lives, this paper argues for a more holistic and integrated approach to the safeguarding of children. This argument has been set within the UK context in which reactive and individually-oriented approaches to these issues have predominated. In order for children's services to develop truly holistic safeguarding strategies, established individually oriented approaches to safeguarding need to be integrated with better developed community-oriented practice. In particular, a culture of listening to children and adults needs to be developed, with frontline practitioners tuning in to what children and adults tell them is happening in their local communities.

Smacking ban would 'improve parenting in Britain'

M. Beckford

Daily Telegraph, May 4th 2010, p. 1 + 19

The Deputy Head of the Council of Europe has argued that a ban on smacking children would improve parenting skills and force adults to learn and apply 'more efficient' ways of disciplining children. The comments come amid continuing controversy over whether it is worse for parents to smack children or for the state to interfere in family life by outlawing the practice.

Sure Start Children's Centres

Children, Schools and Families Committee

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC 130)

Sure Start Children's Centres aim to provide integrated services for children under five and their families at accessible community locations. Sure Start has been one of the most ambitious Government initiatives of recent decades and its aims and principles have commanded widespread support. The rollout of Children's Centres to universal coverage has been rapid and not without controversy. In some parts of the country, capacity to manage capital projects, availability of suitably qualified staff, and engagement with the community have lagged behind the ambitious timetable. It is feared by some that implementing a universal service runs the risk of diluting the focus and resources expended on the most disadvantaged. However, only universal coverage can ensure that all the most disadvantaged children, wherever they live, can benefit from the programme. It is essential that the Government continues to fund the programme sufficiently to maintain the universal coverage.

Taking the stigma out of social work

C. Pemberton

Community Care, Apr. 8th 2010, p. 16-17

High caseloads and low morale are corrosive elements attacking children's social work nationally. In response, the Children's Workforce Development Council is supporting 11 local authorities in England to pilot new ways of delivering social services. The aim of each pilot is to enable social workers to spend more time on the frontline, increase recruitment and retention, and improve the standing of the profession. This article presents a case study of the North Tyneside pilot.

A transformation in early years training

J. Lepper

Children and Young People Now, May 11th-17th 2010, p. 19-20

The Children's Workforce Development Council aims to slim down the number of training courses available to create a clearer career path and make it easier for workers to progress. However, the sector cannot afford to increase the pay of more highly qualified workers, and many staff have no ambitions to progress beyond a level 2 qualification. One outcome could be that the sector simply ignores the new framework.

The view from Holyrood: making early years a priority

M. Russell

Early Years Matters, issue 17, 2010, p. 8-9

The new Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell, stresses the Scottish Government's commitment to the early years and, amongst other initiatives, discusses the parenting campaign developed by the Government, Play Talk Read, which is designed to support parenting skills and encourage parents to play, talk and read to their children on a daily basis.

What's the matter with CAF?

G. Carson

Community Care, Apr. 22nd 2010, p. 16-17

The Common Assessment Framework has been at the heart of government attempts to improve early intervention for children with additional needs since 2005. However debate continues to rage about its effectiveness, and there are doubts about the extent to which it has been embraced by different agencies.

Writing fathers in but mothers out!!!

B. Featherstone

Critical Social Policy, vol.30, 2010, p. 208-224

Since the late 1990s a series of government departments have promoted a policy and practice agenda that calls for practitioners in a range of settings such as schools, healthcare and children's centres to 'engage fathers'. This agenda has not received much critical attention from feminists, but offers insights into how policymakers have developed and supported narratives asserting the importance of fathers for children while rendering mothers invisible. However, a piece of qualitative research which explored fathers' experiences of social care services revealed them to be preoccupied with mothers and their perceived power. They regarded themselves as living in a world dominated by powerful, unpredictable women supported by feminised services.

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