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

Banks will only back schemes producing quick wins, fear providers

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Jan.25th-Feb. 7th 2011, p. 40-41

Plans are being developed to encourage financial institutions to fund early intervention schemes for vulnerable families. There are fears that banks will only invest in projects with a good chance of success which are likely to deliver returns on investment in a relatively short period. In the absence of funding from central government, it may be difficult to finance long-term schemes and those serving the most disadvantaged areas.

Big Bruv Little Sis

Family Rights Group, 2011

Family Rights Group has launched the first study in the UK of sibling carers who are raising their younger brothers and sisters, in many cases following parental bereavement. The report includes in-depth interviews with carers. It highlights the extraordinary lengths that these young people go to out of love for the brothers and sisters, to keep their families together and to prevent them going into the care system. The foreword is written by Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP whose sister stepped into care for him during his childhood. The report sets out clear recommendations, including a national support system to assist children unable to live with their parents and acknowledgement in the social security of the specific needs of these carers, including exemption from the proposed benefits cap. URL: http://www.frg.org.uk/wfm_contents.html

Children's care monitor 2010

Ofsted

2011

This report gives the views of 1,155 children and young people who filled in a monitoring survey online in 2010, plus 17 disabled children and young people who answered some of the questions using Widget symbol language. The 1,155 children who took part in the survey were receiving services from 111 different social care agencies across England which in 2008 or 2009 had accepted an invitation to take part in the survey for the next three years.

Children's services take hit of more than half a billion pounds

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 8th-21st 2011, p. 8-9

Figures from 87 of the 152 local authorities in England with responsibility for children's services reveal cuts of 305m for financial year 2011/12. Extrapolated across all top-tier authorities, the figure could rise to 533m.

A decade of the HRA and its impact on children's rights

J. Fortin

Family Law, Feb. 2011, p. 176-183

The new rights framework imposed by the Human Rights Act has had a strong but patchy influence on the legal principles applying to children. Children's rights to claim the protection of the European Convention are fully acknowledged by the courts in some contexts but not in others. When children bring their own applications, or when adults do so on their behalf, as in education and youth justice applications, their rights as 'persons' under the European Convention are at the forefront of the courts' attention. However in the context of private law cases, such as parental disputes, the courts continue to ignore children's individuality.

Deep cuts to children's services are imminent

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Jan. 25th-Feb. 7th 2011, p. 6-7

A survey of directors of children's services shows that in 2011/12 budgets will be cut by between 6% and 25%. All respondents predicted job losses, with at least 3,624 redundancies predicted by the 21 directors of children's services who gave details. Youth services, early years provision, Connexions and school improvement services will bear the brunt of the cuts.

Dilemmas of inter-professional collaboration: can they be resolved?

J. Rose

Children and Society, vol. 25, 2011, p. 151-163

Partnerships in public services in the UK mean that professionals from different agencies must now work together more. They experience challenges arising from differing ideologies, working practices and priorities. This study examines some of these challenges in terms of dilemmas in practice around role, identity and control. The resolution of these dilemmas is understood in terms of collective preferences, a concept not previously applied to this kind of collaboration.

Giving children a helping hand

G. Carson

Community Care, Feb. 17th 2011, p. 16-17

The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 strengthens the role of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) with new powers from April 2011. IROs review children's care plans and ensure that their wishes and feelings are fully considered. However there is ongoing debate about the need for the role and how it should be structured. The role of the IRO is being currently evaluated by the family justice review and the Munro review of child protection.

Health and wellbeing boards offer hope for joined-up services

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 8th-12th 2011, p. 12-13

Local authorities are set to take over responsibility for public health in 2013, when around 4bn of funding will be transferred from the NHS. New statutory health and wellbeing boards will be responsible for deciding how to spend the money. This article suggests that children's trusts could evolve into health and wellbeing boards, calming fears that efforts to join up children's health and social services are being undermined.

Munro Review of Child Protection: interim report: the child's journey

E. Munro

Department for Education, 2011

The aim of this report is to set out for discussion the characteristics of an effective child protection system, and the reforms that might help to create such a system. In recent years the child protection system has focused on imposing and meeting managerial targets and has forgotten that the needs of children should be at its core. This second interim report discusses some early recommendations and considerations for reform, covering areas such as inspection, performance monitoring and referral and assessment.

New 'Junior ISA' will help parents save for children

E. Wall

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 31st 2011, p. 2

The government has announced the launch of a new 'Junior ISA' scheduled for November 2011 to replace the abolished Child Trust Funds. The 'Junior ISA' will allow parents and guardians to save up to 3,000 a year tax free for eligible children until their 18th birthday. However, unlike Child Trust Funds, there will be no government contribution.

Personal budgets will test local authorities

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 8th-21st 2011, p. 14-15

Government plans to introduce personal budgets for families of children with disabilities and special educational needs. Expanding personal budgets will be challenging for councils, which will have to move to a demand-led system of provision. Families will also need access to reliable advice and support on how to manage the money, and organisations invoicing individual families for services will face increased risk of default. It is also anticipated that some council-run services will disappear as families move away from traditional provision.

The question of race

S. Gillen

Professional Social Work, Mar. 2011, p. 22-23

Under new guidance to be issued by government, trans-racial adoption will be encouraged. This move is controversial as it is received wisdom that black and minority ethnic children need adoptive families of the same background to ensure their healthy development and identity formation. A better approach would be to encourage more black and ethnic minority families to come forward as adopters. Moreover, many mixed race children are hard to place because their cultural heritages are too complex for a matching family ever to be found.

Rescue remedy for children's homes

C. Pemberton

Community Care, Feb. 10th 2011, p. 16-17

Traditional children's homes are under threat of closure as referrals plummet and local authorities cut fees. This article suggests a number of areas in which homes could act to maximise their opportunities and diversify their services, including: engaging in better multi-agency working, discussing cuts to care plans with councils, setting up social enterprises to take over existing local authority homes, becoming hubs for family support services, and developing intensive short-term residential placements

Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance

Department for Work and Pensions

London: TSO, 2011 (Cm 7990)

The paper sets out the government's proposals for reforming and repositioning the services provided by the child maintenance system to align them with its goals for supporting and strengthening families. It outlines a radical re-shaping of the statutory child maintenance system to better support families going through separation, recognising the range and complexity of the issues that parents face during this difficult time. Central to this approach is an integrated model of relationship and family support services, which helps parents make their own, lasting arrangements. It also proposes to introduce a gateway to the statutory maintenance scheme to ensure parents are first supported to take responsibility and make family-based arrangements before resorting to the statutory maintenance system. All applicants will be required to go through this process before accessing the statutory system. Where appropriate, referrals will be made to wider family support services to enable families to find resolution across a range of issues. There would also be a fast-track for the most vulnerable, namely victims of domestic violence. The Child Support Agency (CSA) schemes will be replaced with a new, efficient statutory child maintenance scheme that will be introduced in phases to avoid the errors of past reforms and will be supported by a new computer system. There will be charges for accessing this new system.

True scale of council youth service cuts revealed

A. Hillier

Children and Young People Now, Feb. 8th-21st 2011, p. 8-9

A survey conducted by the union Unite showed that a quarter of youth services in England face cuts of between 21% and 30%. A further study of youth service chiefs estimates that 100m will be cut from local authority youth service budgets in England by March 2012. As a result, local authorities will be forced to shed 3,000 full-time equivalent youth work staff as they seek to cut back and reconfigure services.

Unifying forces

B. Willis

Community Care, Feb. 24th 2011, p. 20-21

Swindon Council's children's services were felt to be fragmented and confusing for users. This article describes how the council and the local primary care trust used pooled budgets and set up joint staff teams to integrate services for children and young people and disabled children.

Young, male and irresponsible about sex

J. Lepper

Children and Young People Now, Jan. 25th-Feb. 7th 2011, p. 18-19

Charities are becoming concerned about the abusive and disrespectful way in which some young men treat their girlfriends. Much of the blame lies with the poor quality of sex and relationship education delivered in schools and other settings, which is largely tailored to the needs of girls. There are calls for better sex education aimed specifically at young men that would focus less on biology and more on relationships.

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