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

Alternative families and changing perceptions of parenthood

S. Blain and A. Worwood

Family Law, Mar. 2011, p. 289-294

This article considers how two of the recent cases heard by judges in the Family Division illuminate the changing nature of parenthood. Alternative family structures have blossomed in recent decades due to the availability of various forms of assisted conception and the recognition of same-sex partnerships. The two cases discussed respectively reinforce the precedents for not granting parental responsibility to a biological father if doing so would threaten the autonomy of the child's nuclear (lesbian) family and highlight the fact that parental responsibility does not necessarily confer on the holder an obligation to provide financially for the child.

'Any chance of cash upfront?'

G. Carson

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

Social Impact Bonds are one vehicle through which payment by results could be applied to children's services. They encourage upfront investment from non-government sources such as charitable foundations and private individuals. These investors receive returns from the government according to the outcomes achieved by the service. This article considers the advantages and disadvantages of using social impact bonds to fund children's services.

Care planning and review for looked after children: fifteen years of slow progress?

N. Thomas

British Journal of Social Work, vol.41, 2011, p. 387-398

This critical commentary aims to take stock of research into care planning and review for looked after children in England and Wales since the mid 1990s. It begins with a summary of the legal context followed by a review of research on a series of key topics:

  1. objectives of planning and reviewing
  2. the relationship with care planning in the courts
  3. monitoring of planning and reviewing
  4. participation and perspectives of children
  5. adult perspectives
  6. new approaches to planning and reviewing.

Disabled charity that helped Cameron's son loses out in cuts

J. Dyke

The Independent, Apr. 19th 2011, p. 8

David Cameron's commitment to services for disabled people has been criticised after funding for KIDS, a charity he is patron of, was cut by 250,000. Charities such as KIDS get their funding from local councils which, in turn, receive it from central government. No. 10 said that cuts in funding for such charities are down to decisions made by local councils.

Give parents a chance

G. Carson

Community Care, Mar. 10th 2011, p. 22-23

Campaigners believe that social services need to do more to support parents with learning disabilities. Social workers should recognise that, with some help, parents with learning disabilities can successfully bring up their children. Due to tight eligibility criteria for statutory services, specialised voluntary agencies may be best placed to help.

Inquiring into non-accidental child deaths: reviewing the review process

J. Devaney, A. Lazenbatt and L. Bunting

British Journal of Social Work, vol.41, 2011, p. 242-260

There is significant public and professional interest in the non-accidental death of children where abuse and neglect are suspected of being contributory factors. Systems for reviewing these deaths have been developed in each of the four jurisdictions within the UK. The main aims are to ensure that professionals are held to account if practice falls below the expected standard, whilst also seeking to strengthen the systems for protecting children through reflection on what lessons can be learned from such tragedies. Recently, the benefit of such inquiries and the quality of serious case reviews have come under scrutiny. This paper reports on the findings of a Delphi study that sought to explore how the process of conducting reviews following the death of a child could be improved by seeking the views of experienced child protection professionals in Northern Ireland.

Is Every Child Matters defunct?

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 22nd-Apr. 4th 2011, p.18-20

The Labour government's Every Child Matters agenda led to the join up of education and children's social care across central and local government. This article debates the legacy of Every Child Matters under the current Tory-led coalition government which promotes a very different vision - localism and the Big Society, where solutions are devised by communities themselves.

Laid-off workers begin to identify opportunities amid the gloom

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 22nd-Apr. 4th 2011, p. 8-9

Staff facing redundancy could be able to take advantage of opportunities within the children's sector as different models of service provision emerge in the wake of budget cuts, departmental restructures and changing government policy. Social enterprises and staff-led co-operatives and mutuals are among the emerging models.

Mediation rules pushed through too hastily, say legal experts

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 22nd-Apr. 4th 2011, p. 12-13

From April 6th 2011, all separating couples will be asked to attend an initial mediation meeting to assess whether they can resolve their disputes outside of court. It is hoped that the move will save money and provide a more amicable solution where children are involved. However, senior figures in the sector fear that the reform is being rushed through without proper consideration of the potential pitfalls, including supply of trained mediators and the geographical spread of services.

Reflections on the impact of the Children Act 1989: child care policy, the knowledge base, and the evolving role of social work

J. Blewett

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 6, Mar.2011, p. 34-44

The Children Act 1989 sought to be evidence-based in that its development reflected a growing body of research in the field of child care. A dynamic relationship between research, policy and practice has continued to be a feature of the evolution of child welfare in the UK ever since. This article explores the relationship, focusing on the implications for the workforce and professional expertise, particularly with regard to social work. Initially, the implementation of the Act was closely associated with local authority social services, but provision has now become more integrated with health and education and there are more interdisciplinary teams. Social work no longer enjoys the position of leadership it originally held and has seen its activity increasingly restricted to supporting families with very serious difficulties. In a period of fiscal austerity there is a danger that this process will continue and that social work will become increasingly synonymous with child protection.

Sector seeks reduced role for GPs for child protection

M. Garboden

Community Care, Mar. 24th 2011, p. 6-7

Social care sector leaders are lobbying the Department of Health to amend the controversial Health and Social Care Bill to reduce GPs' role in child protection. Instead, they argue that responsibility for commissioning child protection services should rest with proposed health and well being boards under local authority control.

Social disparities in children's vocabulary in early childhood: does pre-school education help to close the gap?

B. Becker

British Journal of Sociology, vol. 62, 2011, p. 69-88

Research confirms that a large gap has opened between the language skills of children from lower and middle-class families by the age of three. This attainment gap lays the foundation for later educational inequality and ultimately the reproduction of social inequality. Early education programmes are seen as a means to close this gap and provide more equal educational opportunities. This study analysed the development of the socio-economic status related gap in children's language skills between the ages of three and five using the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Children of lower-educated parents benefit from early childhood education, while there is no effect for children of higher educated parents. However, children of higher educated parents improve their vocabulary more strongly than children of lower educated parents, independent of pre-school attendance. In conclusion, attendance at pre-school does not enable children of lower educated parents to catch up with their middle class peers, but those who do not attend pre-school fall even further behind.

Social workers 'failing to listen to children'

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 13th 2011, p. 16

A report by Ofsted says that children in life-threatening situations are being let down by social services staff who concentrate more on the needs of the parents than the needs of the children. The report mentions cases where the children's concerns were not even listened to. The review looked at serious cases regarding 93 children last year; out of those 39 died.

Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability

Department for Education

London: TSO, 2011 (Cm 8027)

This Green paper proposes a single, multi-agency assessment to replace the current statementing system for children with special needs, with greater inclusion of the voluntary sector. The single assessments are expected to be piloted in 25 local authorities and will see children given a single care plan including health, social care and education support. It also proposes a legal right for parents of disabled children to be allocated a personal budget from 2014 and for the children to have a single combined health and social care plan lasting from birth to age 25. The assessment process would be reduced from 26 to 20 weeks, with the actual assessment taking no more than nine weeks.

(For comment see Community Care, Mar. 17th 2011, p. 7)

Written off: the children lost in adoption shambles

R. Bennett

The Times, Apr. 18th 2011, p. 1, 8-9

Thousands of children in care, some as young as five, are being denied the security of a permanent family because they are considered too old. New data show that the proportion of children leaving care for adoption falls from one in three for those under four to one in 15 for those aged five or older. (See also The Times, Apr. 19th 2011, p. 1, 14-15)

Young people bear the brunt as councils reveal which services will be cut

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Apr. 1st 2011, p. 12

Cuts to council run services will bring dramatic reductions in children's services, a comprehensive survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) has revealed. The study surveyed finance directors from 40% of local authorities and shows that cuts will be disproportionately targeted on the young, with play services, Sure Start centres, libraries, cultural services, parks and leisure centres bearing the weight of above-average reductions. The survey also found that two thirds of councils are embarking on privatisation programmes in an attempt to cut costs. The communities secretary Eric Pickles has accused some councils of failing to rein in administration costs before considering cuts to front line services, but the LGA has replied by pointing out that the results of the survey clearly show local authorities are doing all they can when faced with a 17% reduction in their grants.

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