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

Advanced social work with children and families

C. Cocker and L. Allain (editors)

Exeter: Learning Matters, 2011

Qualified child and family social workers need to be aware of the latest developments in their field and also update their skills and knowledge about what constitutes best practice. This book provides a solid framework for social workers interested in current policy, research and practice, while also covering the advanced and complex skills necessary for competent social work practice in this area such as effective communication with looked after children, best practice in fostering and adoption and working with families with multiple problems.

Children's minister casts doubt on Ofsted's ratings of adoption services

C. Pemberton

Community Care, Feb. 3rd 2011, p. 8-9

Children's minister Tim Loughton has promised to investigate Ofsted inspections of adoption services, claiming that some of its 'good' and 'outstanding' ratings fail to reflect outcomes for children. Loughton has also made clear that he intends to reverse England's falling adoption rates. New guidance is to be issued urging that persistent delays, political correctness and bureaucracy must be eradicated from adoption services. Under the new guidelines, older children, those from ethnic minorities and groups of siblings would be considered for adoption by suitable families of any background, regardless of race or social status. White couples would be permitted to adopt minority ethnic children , and applicants would not be turned down on grounds of age.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Feb. 21st 2011, p. 10; Daily Telegraph, Feb. 22nd 2011, p. 8)

Coalition policy risks rise in teenage pregnancy, experts warn

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Jan. 11th-24th 2011, p. 10-11

In order to save money, cash-strapped councils are abolishing the post of teenage pregnancy co-ordinator. This loss of leadership is expected to lead to a rise in teenage pregnancy rates.

Councils with most children in need face greatest cuts

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Jan. 11th-24th 2011, p. 6-7

The funding settlement for local authorities in England for 2011/12 and 2012/13 will mean average cuts of 4.4% to their spending power. Caps will mean that no council will face year-on-year cuts of more than 8.9%. However, analysis has shown that the cuts will disproportionately affect authorities with higher numbers of children in need.

Disability: breaking down the barriers to child placement: report of BAAF Health Group Conference, 18 October 2010

Adoption and Fostering, vol. 34, no.4, 2010, p. 79-82

Speakers at this conference explored current practice in the fostering and adoption of disabled children in the UK. Presentations summarised in this article cover: safeguarding, needs assessments, finding families, caring for autistic children, disabled adults as carers and disablism (the disadvantage faced by disabled people)

Early intervention, American-style

J. Stephenson

Children and Young People Now, Jan. 11th-24th 2011, p. 18-19

Birmingham Council is spending 41.7m on early intervention programmes for families over ten years under its Brighter Futures strategy. It is piloting four international early intervention schemes which it hopes will save it around 102m over 15 years and help transform the fortunes of its children's services department, which has been consistently rated poor by Ofsted.

First steps to an SCR revolution

M. Garboden

Community Care, Feb. 3rd 2011, p. 16-17

Serious case reviews in child protection have long been at the centre of debate. Wales has now unveiled part of a new approach which promises to cut costs and help councils to implement effective changes swiftly. All Welsh child protection cases will now be classed as:

  1. multi-agency evaluation events
  2. concise reviews of cases involving the death of, or serious harm to, a child
  3. comprehensive reviews of complex cases of death or serious harm.

The impact of the Early Years Foundation Stage

Ofsted

2011

This survey evaluated the impact that the introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage has had on provision and developmental outcomes for young children, with a particular focus on their personal, social and emotional development and communication, language and literacy skills. It also considered a range of other factors that are drivers or barriers to improvement.

URL: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/Publications-and-research/Browse-all-by/Documents-by-type/Thematic-reports/The-impact-of-the-Early-Years-Foundation-Stage

Mixed-race adoption can be child's best chance, says top family judge

F. Gibb

The Times, Feb. 7th 2011, p. 3

Mixed-race adoptions are being backed by Sir Nicholas Wall, president of the Family Division of the High Court, who believes that they are preferable to leaving children in care homes. He also expressed concern about the need to make children's cases a priority in the family justice system to prevent delays and said that local authorities should not be slow about intervening to protect children.

Nursery charges rise twice as quickly as wages

R. Ramesh

The Guardian, Feb. 9th 2011, p. 14

A survey by the Daycare Trust has revealed that despite the economic downturn, the cost of childcare increased by 4.8% in 2010, far exceeding the increase of 2.1% in average wages for the same period. 'There is increasing concern about the government's plans to reduce the childcare element of the working tax credit, so that from April, this will only cover 70% of the cost of childcare for poorer families, instead of the current 80%' said Anaud Shukla, chief executive of the Daycare Trust, adding: 'Once this change comes into place, some families will effectively pay an extra 546 a year in childcare. Yet parents in the UK already spend on average a third of their net income on childcare, more than any other OECD country'.

Ofsted pays the price for blunders over Baby P

R. Bennett

The Times, Feb. 1st 2011, p. 1, 5

'Ofsted is to be stripped of the power to scrutinise official reports into suspicious deaths of children in the wake of the Baby P tragedy'. A report by a professor of social work says that Ofsted is not equipped to evaluate serious case reviews, because its approach is too formulaic and bureaucratic resulting in too much time being spent by those involved in reviews on ensuring that the correct processes were followed and certain stages were completed on time in order to pass their Ofsted inspection. As a result the reviews do not fulfill their original function of analysing and understanding why misjudgments and poor decisions that led to a child being harmed or killed may have been made by social workers, police, doctors or others. 'Placing a timescale on completing a form puts pressure on professionals which can distract from making decent quality judgments'. Five local authorities are to be given permission to abandon certain rules on when they must conclude certain parts of the process of taking a child into care to see whether a different approach can work.

Safeguarding young people: responding to young people aged 11 to 17 who are maltreated

G. Rees and others

Children's Society, 2010

There has been comparatively little research interest in the maltreatment of young people aged 11 to 17. This study aims to improve child protective responses to this age group in policy and practice arenas. It consists of a literature review, a survey of professionals and a study of practice. The study raises many issues for further investigation, including the potential for referrers and social care professionals to underestimate the risks of long term negative outcomes for young people in cases of maltreatment. Moreover, self-reports of child maltreatment are likely to be far lower than actual rates.

URL: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk

Severe child poverty: nationally and locally

Save the Children

2011

Save the Children's latest research findings, commissioned from the New Policy Institute, reveal that 1.6million children across the UK live in severe poverty and that 29 local authorities in Great Britain have more than one in five children living in severe poverty. Over 25% of children in Manchester and Tower Hamlets are living in severe poverty. Public sector job losses and changes to benefits in the coming years risk increasing severe child poverty, especially in those areas with high levels of deprivation.

Supporting direct contact after adoption

E. Neil and others

London: British Association for Adoption and Fostering, 2011

A significant minority of adopted children have direct contact with members of their birth family after adoption. The Adoption and Children Act 2002 recognises that both birth and adoptive families may need help to manage these contact arrangements, and the legislation specifies that support for contact should be available. This study outlines the findings of the first investigation of the services established to support direct post-adoption contact. It draws on the experiences of 51 adoptive parents, four long-term foster carers and 39 birth relatives, all of whom were involved in agency supported direct post-adoption contact arrangements. Individuals' experiences of the challenges and benefits involved in having direct contact are described. Four different models of contact support are identified and these models are discussed in terms of both their relative costs and how they can be matched to the differing needs of adoptive and birth families.

What are children's centres? The development of CC services, 2004-2008

J. Lewis, R. Cuthbert and S. Sarre

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 45, 2011, p. 35-53

Children's centres are intended to be a mainstream, universal service. They began in 2004 and their origins are diverse. Some replaced existing local services, most notably Sure Start services; others were started from scratch. Using interview data from three urban local authorities, this article explores the nature of the 'core offer' that centres are expected to provide and the way in which they have pursued the goal of integrating staff and services. It highlights the problems of balancing a focus on the child and on the parent; of reconciling childcare provision as part of the employability agenda and as a route to educational achievement for the child; of permitting local variation while achieving consistency; of the role of monitoring in relation to developing good practice; and of achieving integration in a mixed economy of care.

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