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

Inquiries into fatal child abuse in the Netherlands: a source of improvement?

T. Kuijvenhoven and W.J. Kortleven

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 40, 2010, p. 1152-1173

In some countries, notably the UK, official inquiries into the fatal abuse of children known to social services are commonplace. Such inquiries have recently emerged in the Netherlands. The main aim of these inquiries is to improve child welfare and protection practice and prevent further tragedies. However the British inquiries have so far failed to produce effective solutions to the problems they have identified. Despite the subsequent introduction of more detailed assessment frameworks, new procedures and increased monitoring, professional practice seems hardly to have improved. Like their British counterparts, Dutch inquiries also focus on changing procedures, introducing decision making instruments and increasing monitoring. This one-sided emphasis on bureaucratic measures does not rate the human side of child protection work at its true value, and makes it questionable whether the inquiries will contribute to improving practice.

'It's not just about the money': non-resident fathers' perspectives on paying child support

K. Natalier and B. Hewitt

Sociology, vol.44, 2010, p. 489-505

A large and growing number of families are sharing the responsibility for the care of children across two households. The payment and non-payment of child support is a particularly contentious issue that arises in the context of parenting apart. This article explores the question of why fathers resist paying child support through interviews with 26 divorced or separated fathers in Australia. It uses the distinction between gifts and entitlements to explore men's discontent and reluctance to pay child support. Using Zelizer's definition, a monetary exchange in the form of a gift implies a voluntary act on the part of the giver, and the subordination of those who receive the money. When parents live together, men's financial contributions to the household are often presented in the form of a gift. In contrast, monetary exchange as an entitlement reflects the right to a share, and implies strong claims to power and autonomy by the recipient. When couples separate, the child support money is, from a policy perspective, an entitlement and control over how it is used passes to the mother. The men in this study attempt to redefine child support as a gift, but struggle to do so in legal and bureaucratic structures that position its receipt as an entitlement.

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