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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2011): Child welfare - UK

30 years of childcare practice and research: an overview

R. Bullock and J. Simmonds (editors)

Adoption and Fostering, vol. 34, Autumn 2010, p. 3-108

This special issue presents an overview of key developments in services for children separated from their birth parents in the UK since 1980. It highlights BAAF's role in the development of adoption and foster care services and legislation. Other articles cover the challenges of permanency planning, changes in assessment practice, debates about contact between looked-after children and their birth parents, the rights of adopted people to information about their origins, and progress in involving children in decision-making.

8,000 vulnerable children denied social workers

M. Garboden

Community Care, Nov. 18th 2010, p. 4-5

A Freedom of Information request to English local authorities has revealed that they have failed to allocate social workers to more than 8,000 vulnerable children. While some councils had all cases allocated, a significant proportion of these has been assigned to non-social work professionals.

Adoption for gay and lesbian couples

Z. Samuel

Family Law, Nov. 2010, p. 1220-1222

Research shows that children who have grown up with gay or lesbian parents are not likely to be disadvantaged. Although the law has been changed to allow gay men and lesbians to adopt, a huge amount of prejudice creeps in when social workers interview potential adopters. This prejudice seems to be grounded in a lack of training and of awareness of the research in the field. A more uniform system of training and education of social workers is required.

Child care cuts 'cost a family 436 a year'

Anon

Daily Telegraph, Dec. 29th 2010, p. 6

In the 2010 Spending Review the Chancellor announced that the percentage of childcare costs recoverable through the Working Tax Credit would be reduced from 80% to 70% from April 2011. The Resolution Foundation has produced figures showing how much financial support for childcare costs families will lose annually in each region. Losses range from 600 per year in London, where childcare costs are high, to 404 in Yorkshire.

Child safety experts warn that Derby errors are endemic

C. Pemberton

Community Care, Dec. 2nd 2010, p. 4-5

Child protection failures which led to the sexual exploitation of 25 girls in Derby are likely to be endemic nationwide. Unfortunately the situation is likely to worsen as councils faced with massive budget cuts focus on early intervention with children under five, assuming that teenagers can look after themselves.

Children in poverty 'need life chances not cash'

R. Ramesh

The Guardian, Dec. 22nd 2010, p. 5

The government has signalled its intention to switch focus from Labour's anti-poverty measures based on income to measures designed to improve children's life chances; a controversial move described by the government as treating disadvantage's 'causes, not symptoms'. However, campaigners have warned that the government risks failing to meet legal targets to cut child poverty by 2020.

Fears for future of skills training as government takes over CWDC's role

K. McGregor

Community Care, Nov. 25th 2010, p. 7

The secretary of state for education has announced that he will be withdrawing all state funding from the Children's Workforce Development Council, which will lose its status as a public body. The core functions of the Council will be absorbed into the Department for Education by 2012. The Council will continue supporting children's services as a sector skills council, with reduced funding.

(See also Children and Young People Now, Nov. 23rd-29th 2010, p. 10-11)

The Foundation years: preventing poor children becoming poor adults

Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances

2010

This review concludes that parenting plays a significant role in determining whether children born to poor parents grow up to be poor. It recommends that public money and resources are focused on helping children from poor families in their early years. A new cabinet post should be created to oversee the work. Parenting courses should be offered as routine to all new parents. As well as new parents, children should also be taught parenting and life skills. Lessons would start at primary school and culminate in a cross-curricular qualification in parenting at GCSE level. To gauge the success of the new system, government departments should compile 'life chances indicators', measuring children's cognitive, physical and emotional growth at the ages of three and five.

Health visitors to the fore

J. Griffiths

Community Care, Dec. 2nd 2010, p. 16-17

Problems with recruiting social workers and the increased numbers of children in care mean that policymakers are looking at greater reliance on health visitors to help identify struggling families early on. The coalition government has pledged to recruit 4,200 more health visitors by the end of the current Parliament. There is growing support for the idea that such health visitors should work together with social workers in joint teams and undertake joint visits.

Let's get the City on board

J. Cooper

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

Early intervention is acknowledged as perhaps the only way to stem the tide of children entering the care system. However funding for early intervention schemes is likely to fall victim to public spending cuts. Graham Allen MP, chair of the Early Intervention Commission, is proposing an alternative approach to raising funds through social impact bonds sold to City investors.

Overhaul of family support saves millions

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Nov. 16th-22nd 2010, p. 8-9

This article describes how Croydon Council has improved preventative services for at risk children by redesigning them around family needs to facilitate access. By 2024, the council expects to have saved more than 60m through early intervention to prevent problems developing.

Role of local authorities is in flux

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Nov. 16th-22nd 2010, p. 11

Under the coalition government's reform programme, the role of councils in the lives of children and young people will change radically. This article summarises key government policies which will impact on councils, covering careers advice and post-16 learning, schools provision and the reduction in statutory targets and duties in respect of children's services.

'Scrooge' label forces Gove to rewrite plot on children's books

R. Watson

The Times, Dec. 27th 2010, p. 18

Bookstart, which was set up in 1992, has been funded by government since 2004, providing free books from a child's birth up to the age of four. It is run by Booktrust which encourages reading by providing books for children up to the age of eleven. Just before Christmas 2010 Michael Gove told Booktrust that from April 2011 he was withdrawing all of the 13million government funding for Bookstart. However following protests, the Department for Education put out a joint statement with Booktrust that there would, after all, be some government funding, although at what level was not clear.

(See also Guardian, Dec. 27th 2010, p. 7)

Voices of the voluntary sector

Children and Young People Now, Nov. 16th-22nd 2010, p. 17-18

Smaller voluntary organisations delivering services to children and young people face a number of financial challenges as local authorities cut spending on contracted out services and charitable trusts tighten eligibility criteria for grants. Six organisations discuss their financial situation and how they plan to weather the storm.

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