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

1,300 play areas are scrapped 'to save key services'

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 12th 2010, p. 6

As part of public spending cuts, the Department for Education has frozen grants to 132 local authorities for the construction of community playgrounds. Parents and charities have claimed that the move will risk escalating levels of childhood obesity, but the Department said that the funding had to be cut to protect frontline services.

(See also The Independent, Aug. 12th 2010, p. 14; The Guardian, Aug. 12th 2010, p. 5)

Beyond belief: verdict on the council failings that saw girl starved

J. Taylor

The Independent, July 28th 2010, p. 6

A seven your old girl who was starved to death by her parents could have been saved were it not for a catalogue of 'missed opportunities' by Birmingham City Council social services and health professionals, a report has found.

Bursting at the seams: impact on fostering services of the number of children going into care 2009-10

H. Clark

The Fostering Network, 2010

This report investigates the effects of an increase in number of children going into care following the Baby Peter scandal on fostering services and examines the challenges they are experiencing in their efforts to find the right foster families for all children who need them.

Concurrent planning 2: 'the rollercoaster of uncertainty'

J. Kenrick

Adoption and Fostering, vol.34, no.2, 2010, p. 38-48

Concurrent planning is a scheme in which both rehabilitation to birth parents and adoption are worked on concurrently, with intensive resources deployed for each alternative. The child is cared for by foster parents dually approved as prospective adopters, while at the same time having regular contact with its birth family. This article focuses on the impact of the process of concurrent planning on the carers. An interview with a birth parent whose child returned to her is also reported.

Connexions braced for huge losses

R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, July 27th-Aug. 9th 2010, p. 11

As a consequence of public spending cuts, more than one in ten Connexions service heads said, in response to a survey, that they faced budget cuts of between 41 and 50% in 2010/11. Another 43% were expecting to lose at least one fifth of their budget. Centre closures and staff redundancies are inevitable.

Coping without paperwork

M. Garboden

Community Care, Aug. 5th 2010, p. 16-17

The coalition government has promised to sweep away the paperwork currently clogging the child protection system so that social workers can spend more time working directly with families. However, there are concerns that some social workers prefer sitting in the office filling in forms to interacting with vulnerable children and families. There is a possibility that some practitioners will have to be retrained.

Cuts and child services

K. Ly

Community Practitioner, vol.83, Aug. 2010, p. 12-13

There are widespread concerns about how cuts in government spending will impact on health visiting services. The freeze on public sector pay will lead to recruitment and retention difficulties, inadequate staffing levels and reduced contact with families. There is concern that in these circumstances child protection work will suffer.

Does Every Child Matter?

A. Simon and S. Ward

London: Routledge, 2010

This book provides a unique and insightful critique of Every Child Matters and its contribution to understanding of New Labour social policy. It locates the genesis of the policy in terms of its social, political and historical contexts and questions the validity of constructing social policy around issues of child welfare.

Every paper matters: a comparative analysis of two policies surrounding the development of children and young people

D. Allan

Education, Knowledge and Economy, vol. 4, 2010, p. 57-71

The purpose of this article is to compare two policies: Every Child Matters (2003) and Knowsley's Children and Young People's Strategic Plan 2007-10 (2007), in an attempt to measure their impact and ascertain any potential trajectory from government-level agenda to borough-level contextualisation. The study finds that one particular organisation or borough can create a bespoke policy whilst adhering to government's guidelines and suggests that the implementation of a specific paper is diverse and borough-specific.

Facing up to obstructive parents

M. Garboden

Community Care, Aug. 12th 2010, p. 18-19

Parents under investigation for child abuse or neglect can be difficult for social workers to handle. They may be aggressive and threatening, or attempt to distract social workers by being overly eager to work with them. Social workers' attempts to deal with resistant parents can be hampered by councils' resource constraints, leading to lack of support.

Gay rights law to close Catholic adoption agency

M. Beckford

Daily Telegraph, Aug.19th 2010, p. 8

The adoption agency Catholic Care had sought to use a clause in the Sexual Orientation Regulations designed to protect gay charities from being sued for discrimination against heterosexuals to change its 'charitable objects' so that it could legally avoid considering homosexual couples as adoptive parents. However the Charity Commission has now ruled that it cannot allow Catholic Care to restrict its services to heterosexual couples. The agency will now close.

Government's poverty tsar proposes new GCSE in parenting to help disadvantaged

N. Morris

The Independent, Aug. 16th 2010, p. 10

Teenagers would get the opportunity to sit a GCSE examination in good parenting under plans being drawn up by the Government poverty tsar Frank Field.

A job for volunteers

N. Valios

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

In the context of the debate on the Big Society, this article introduces the work of Volunteers in Child Protection (ViCP). The scheme involves volunteers working with children at risk of serious harm through neglect. They regularly visit families at home and give basic parenting help, practical advice and support.

Looked after children: can existing services ever succeed?

M. Little

Adoption and Fostering, vol.34, no.2, 2010, p. 3-7

This opinion piece challenges the effectiveness of substitute care provided by the state in the UK for looked after children. Four arguments against existing care services are presented: 1) they are not ethical; 2) the selection of children for substitute care is haphazard; 3) the evidence base for state care is weak; and 4) foster care is the product of out of date legislation and does not meet the needs of modern families as it offers only a safety net. The author calls for an alternative approach based on interventions aimed at children living with their birth families.

(For comment and a different view see Adoption and Fostering, vol.34, no.2, 2010, p.8-13)

Many unhappy returns

C. Pemberton

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

Many looked after children are losing out as professionals struggle to achieve permanent solutions for them. Attempts to reunite children with birth families fail because the problems which led to the child being taken into care are not addressed and resolved. There is a mistaken belief within children's services that a return to the birth family is always best.

National citizen service takes over

R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 10th-23rd 2010, p. 11

The government is forging ahead with plans for the National Citizen Service, which will see 16-year-olds embark on a seven- to eight-week summer course of personal and social development. The voluntary sector is being encouraged to bid to deliver the services. However, there are concerns that the national citizen service placements will replace permanent local provision for young people.

Understanding why in serious case reviews

M. Garboden

Community Care, Aug. 5th 2010, p. 14-15

This article presents the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) model for the conduct of serious case reviews which is currently being trialled. Feedback from the pilot schemes so far has been positive.

The value of children's trusts

J. Lepper

Children and Young People Now, July 27th-Aug. 9th 2010, p. 16-17

Education secretary Michael Gove has confirmed that the Coalition government plans to remove the legal requirement on local authorities to set up children's trust boards and produce children's and young people's plans. While the legal requirement for key agencies to co-operate will remain, the list of statutory partners will be reviewed. This article presents the views of three local authorities on the benefits of children's trusts for service co-ordination, budget pooling and joint working.

When policy o'erleaps itself: the 'tragic tale' of the Integrated Children's System

S. White and others

Critical Social Policy, vol. 30, 2010, p. 405-429

Information technology played a pivotal role in New Labour's public service modernisation project. This article reports an ethnographic study of the impact and origin of one such system, the Integrated Children's System (ICS), which has been deployed in statutory children's social care. It shows how the ICS, by attempting to micro-manage work through a rigid performance management regime and a centrally prescribed practice model, has disrupted the professional task, engendering a range of unsafe practices and provoking a gathering storm of user resistance.

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