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

Bid to cut red tape for foster carers

B. Cook

Children and Young People Now, Sept. 7th-13th 2010, p. 10

In a bid to reduce unnecessary red tape, the junior children's minister wrote to local authorities at the end of August, urging them to make it easier for foster carers to take day-to-day decisions affecting children placed with them. The Department for Education has also launched a consultation on regulations governing fostering services.

Cafcass's response to increased demand for its services

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/11; HC 289)

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) looks after the interests of children involved in Family Court proceedings in England. It experienced a significant increase in care cases from local authorities following the Baby Peter tragedy. Cafcass had to deal with an extra 200 new care cases each month from November 2008 - around 40 per cent more. Simultaneously, the courts needed advice on hundreds more children involved in family breakdowns. Delays in allocating family court advisers can cause stress to children and families. The report found that Cafcass was not well placed to respond efficiently and effectively because it had only partly resolved known organisational challenges around management information, IT systems and staff engagement by the time demand started to increase. Cafcass increased its capacity and, between August 2009 and June 2010, reduced the proportion of children without a family court adviser, from 10 per cent to 2 per cent in care cases and from 34 per cent to 5 per cent in family breakdown cases. The Department of Education allowed Cafcass to bring forward 4.6 million from the 2009-10 and 2010-11 budgets and gave Cafcass an extra 4.8 million. The cost increases do not represent a failure of value for money. Cafcass continues to face enormous challenges in meeting the needs of vulnerable children and has responded with a major rethink of how it manages their cases. It is now implementing a 10 million transformation programme that should allow it to improve how it deals with future fluctuations in demand. In order to be successful, these changes will require greater organisational cohesiveness and improvements in staff morale.

Care proceedings: improving the process

P. Gammon

Family Law, Sept. 2010, p. 994-997

This article explores the different ways in which resource constraints are having a negative impact on the welfare of children involved in care proceedings, focusing on the roles of the child's solicitor and his/her guardian.

Child protection reform across the United Kingdom

A. Stafford, S. Vincent and N. Parton (editors)

Edinburgh: Dunedin, 2010

There have been significant shifts in relation to safeguarding and child protection policy in the UK in recent years. Each part of the UK is engaged in its own programme of reform. Devolution has added a new dynamic to these developments. This book outlines recent developments in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. It concludes with a chapter in which the editors compare and contrast the various reform programmes across the UK and considers the extent to which child protection policy is converging or diverging.

A child's place in the Big Society

Baroness Butler Sloss

Family Law, Sept. 2010, p. 938-941

This article examines how children fit into the idea of the Big Society which is part of the strategy of the coalition government in the light of the problems they face in modern Britain. It covers child poverty, abuse and neglect, youth offending and the portrayal of children in the media.

The cost of extending free childcare

R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, Aug.31st-Sept.6th 2010, p. 16-17

All three- and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours free childcare per week from September 1st 2010, up from 12.5 hours per week. The state funds the free places at an average of 3.58 per hour, but nurseries say that this does not cover their costs, which average 4.52 per hour. Nurseries used to charge parents top-up fees to ensure they did not make a loss on the free hours, but this was outlawed by the 2009 code of practice.

Developing multi- professional teamwork for integrated children's services: research, policy and practice. 2nd ed.

A. Anning and others

Maidenhead: Open University, 2010

This book is a practical resource for all professionals engaged with planning, implementing and evaluating multi-professional teamwork and practice in children's services. It combines theoretical perspectives, research evidence from the 'real world' of children's services, and reflections on policy and practice in inter-agency services in England and reflects the numerous changes to policy, practice, and research. The book:

  • Exemplifies what multi-professional work looks like in practice
  • Examines real dilemmas faced by professionals trying to make it work, and shows how these dilemmas can be resolved
  • Considers lessons to be learnt, implications for practice and recommendations for making multi-professional practice effective

Doctors 'fail to spot child abuse'

A. Porter

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 16th 2010, p. 2

The Kennedy Review of children's services has identified doctors, particularly GPs, as the weak link in spotting signs of abuse. The Review will recommend that training in paediatrics is made an essential part of every GP's professional education, and that GPs without expertise in the area should no longer be asked to make judgements on questions of potential abuse. It criticises a lack of co-ordination of children's services and is expected to recommend that every local authority must establish a body entirely focused on the needs of children, with clear powers to take decisions in respect of all relevant local agencies. At the national level, the Review will recommend that all policymaking relating to children's health, education and welfare be brought together, and will call for a significant increase in funding for early years education and care.

Draft statutory guidance on local duties on child poverty (Child Poverty Act 2010): report on and response to formal consultation held March to June 2010

Department for Education

London: TSO, 2010 (Cm 7891)

The Child Poverty Act gained Royal Assent on 25th March 2010. Part 2 of the Act is intended to enable all local authorities and their partners to establish cooperation arrangements to address child poverty in their local areas. Specifically, it places new duties on local authorities and their named partners to cooperate to tackle child poverty in their local areas, produce local child poverty needs assessments and develop local child poverty strategies. This report summarizes the views of a wide range of partners on the value of draft statutory guidance expressed during a formal consultation exercise. Responses show that local authorities and their partners are particularly interested in support that provides more information around the role, and better targeting, of named and un-named partners and exactly what contribution they can provide. There is demand for clear and fulsome support for compiling needs assessments and signposting to key data sets. There is also demand for further support on how to engage partners and gain senior endorsement of child poverty alongside complementary local and wider strategies. Given the decentralisation and localism agenda, the government has decided not to publish formal statutory guidance but instead will provide a short, non-statutory guide, accompanied by signposting to a package of sector-led support that focuses on practical tools and short information guides and good practice examples.

Examining 'social investment' policy in a multi-ethnic Sure Start area: staff perspectives

T. Hamm

Social Policy and Society, vol. 9, 2010, p.502-514

This paper is based on a case study conducted in a multi-ethnic Sure Start programme between 2003 and 2006. It is argued that a Third Way 'social investment' agenda that emphasised boosting the employability of parents increasingly characterised Sure Start policy discourse during the period of the study. This paper explores staff perceptions of the inappropriateness of this policy shift, given the constraints on the programme's primary target group, mothers of Pakistani origin. Mothers in this group were unable to aspire to paid work due to their roles and concrete obligations within the family.

Five-year-olds are the key to social mobility

F. Field

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 30th 2010, p. 21

Argues that parents who set clear boundaries for their children's behaviour and teach them essential social skills are the agents who open the doors of opportunity. The end of consensus around this style of parenting has stalled social mobility. In order to improve the life chances of poorer children, young people need to be taught parenting skills as part of their education. The poorest parents of preschool children would also be supported through a network of Children's Centres.

A fresh start for Sure Start

L. Hunt

Community Care, Sept. 9th 2010, p. 16-17

The Sure Start children's centres programme is being required by the coalition government to target the most vulnerable families instead of offering universal provision. Experts say that this shift will require closer working with children's social services.

Gay parenting options in the 21st century

A. Gilbert

Family Law, Sept. 2010, p. 998-1001

This article explores the options available to gay male couples in the UK who wish to become parents: adoption and surrogacy. It looks at the law which underpins them, recent developments and continuing difficulties.

Getting it right for children and young people: overcoming cultural barriers in the NHS so as to meet their needs

I. Kennedy

Department of Health: 2010

This independent report calls for greater overall investment in child health and social services in England, which it claims are often mediocre. It proposes that all commissioning of children's health and social services should be pooled and delivered by local partnerships to improve quality which is currently being undermined by lack of co-ordination and failure to share information between services. Specifically, it recommends better paediatric training for GPs, more engagement by the NHS in child protection issues, and better information sharing on children within the health service. It also demands improvements in the transfer of children to adult care so that this takes place at the most suitable time for the individual.


Licensed to hug

F. Furedi

Civitas, 2010

This report criticises the draconian vetting and barring scheme introduced by the Labour government to protect children from paedophiles. The scheme, now under review by the Coalition government, involved requiring people who wanted to work with children, or who came into regular contact with them, having to register and undergo criminal record checks. The report calls for a new approach based on the assumption that most adults are not predatory paedophiles. The vetting and barring scheme is claimed to undermine David Cameron's dream of a 'Big Society', as it threatens to discourage volunteering and prevent adults from intervening when children are in distress or misbehaving in public.

Made to measure: bespoke services for young adults: examples of promising practice

K. Devitt and K. Lowe

Young People in Focus, 2010

This study interviewed young people aged 15 to 26, project staff and commissioners in order to highlight the work of organisations targeting vulnerable young adults. It is argued that young adults need to be addressed as a distinct group in need of help with general life skills. It is concluded that effective services for young adults must adopt a flexible approach. Accompanying young service users to appointments, providing sustainable support that they can access when they have difficulties, and promoting responsibility are also highlighted a pivotal to ensuring that vulnerable young people are given the support they need at this transitional stage.

National citizen service in action

T. de Castella

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 24th-30th 2010, p. 36-37

This article describes a project in Birmingham run by The Challenge, a charity set up to pave the way for the National Citizen Service for young people which Prime Minister, David Cameron, hopes will become the youth dimension of the Big Society.

Plan for children's services to test staff-run mutuals

J. Lepper

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 24th-30th 2010, p. 11

The deployment of staff to run public services themselves at arm's length from council control has become the latest policy to emerge from the coalition government's Big Society agenda. The so-called 'mutuals' will be tested in 12 pathfinder areas and, if successful, could become the norm across the public services. Among the pilots are four involving children's and youth services.

Professional issues in child and youth care practice

K. Gharabaghi

London: Routledge, 2010

This book provides an overview of the core professional issues in the field of child and youth care practice. It explores themes ranging from relationships and the exploration of Self to career building and field-specific approaches to management. All of the themes in this book are explored within a context of ethical decision-making and practice approaches informed by a commitment to children's rights and empowerment. Throughout the discussions, concepts and themes are considered in relation to four specific lenses: the power lens, the diversity lens, the language lens and the transitioning from theory to practice lens. These lenses serve to ensure that the reader adopts a critical understanding of the professional issues in the field and is able to develop his or her own professional identity while mitigating the power and identity issues necessarily associated with being a practitioner in a helping profession.

Rise in children in care since Baby P

S. Cassidy

The Independent, Oct. 1st, 2010, p. 20

The number of children in care has dramatically risen since the death of Baby P official statistics have revealed. There are now 64,000 children in care, an increase of 6% since 2009 and 7% since 2006.

Safeguarding across the capital

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 24th-30th 2010, p. 9

In response to the death of Baby Peter and Lord Laming's subsequent child protection report, the pan-London Safeguarding Children Board took action to strengthen arrangements across the capital. Measures included appointing three regional safeguarding advisers to share best practice and support service redesign across the 33 London boroughs.

Sector gains from young volunteers

R. Watson

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 31st-Sept. 6th 2010, p. 11

VTalent Year is a national scheme developed by youth volunteering charity V to get young people aged 16 to 25 to volunteer full time in local authority children's services and colleges, with a view to gaining a qualification at the end of a 44 week placement. V has invested almost 19m in the programme, which will run for two years.

Social media offers inspiration in the replacement of ContactPoint

M. Garboden

Community Care, Aug. 26th 2010, p. 10

The ContactPoint database, designed to hold the personal details of every child in England, has been abolished by the coalition government. This article speculates on what system to help professionals spot child abuse might replace it. One possible approach, Safeguarding 2.0 designed by consultancy FutureGov, is based on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Supporting the birth relatives of adopted children: how accessible are services?

J. Cossar and E. Neil

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 40, 2010, p. 1368-1386

The 2002 Adoption and Children Act increased birth relatives' rights to support services when their children are adopted. This paper addresses the key questions of who provides birth relative support services and how users can access them, by drawing on data from the mapping stage of the government-funded Researching Adoption Support programme. This mapping projected surveyed the views of service providers. Four patterns were found in relation to local authority arrangements for service provision and the role of the independent sector in these. Referral routes were categorised into seven different models.

Treatment for young abusers left to chance

C. Stothart

Community Care, Sept. 16th 2010, p. 16-17

Services for juvenile sex offenders, many of whom also have learning disabilities, are patchy and in short supply. Experts are calling for a national strategy for children with sexually harmful behaviour to ensure a more even spread of services around the country and guide professionals on handling cases.

Will social workers lose their touch?

C. Pemberton

Community Care, Aug. 26th 2010, p.16-17

It is estimated that thousands of teachers and social workers are falsely accused of sexually assaulting children every year. Although physical contact is a human need, children's social workers are starting to take a hands-off approach in order to reduce the risk of misunderstandings. Such an approach may protect professionals, but will not always serve the interests of the child.

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