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

Adoptions will rise from now, insists head of court service

R. Bennett

The Times, Sept. 30th 2011, p.22

Anthony Douglas the head of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service has announced that there will be far more adoptions in England this year than last as 'a corner has been turned' in reversing the decline.

Baby P effect puts record number of 'at risk' children in care

P. Butler

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

Record numbers of 'at risk' children are being taken from their families and placed into care, official figures show, as social workers respond to what they regard as increasing neglect and emotional abuse of vulnerable youngsters. The rapid growth in care orders is attributed partly to social workers being more prepared to intervene to protect young children from persistent exposure to domestic violence, parental mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse. Experts also believe the "Baby Peter effect", following the death of Peter Connolly in Haringey, has persuaded many local authorities to lower the risk threshold for removal of a child, in the hope that this will reduce the chances of a high profile child death.

Can payment-by-results hit the target?

M. Garboden

Community Care, Aug. 18th 2011, p. 16-17

The government has stipulated that children's centres should be more targeted on families in need. To support this principle, 3m is to be provided to centres to trial payment-by-results programmes aimed at rewarding services which achieve sustained contact with families in greatest need and better protect and help at-risk children.

Carers need training to reduce suicide risk

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 9th-22nd 2011, p. 10-11

The government launched a suicide prevention strategy in July 2011 which identified looked-after children and care leavers as a 'high-risk' group. Experts agree that foster carers and residential childcare workers need basic mental health training to reduce the number of young people in these groups who take their own lives.

Caring for abused and neglected children: making the right decisions for reunification or long-term care

J. Wade and others

London: J. Kingsley, 2011

The decision whether or not to reunify a child in care with their birth family is one of the most serious taken by children's services, and often involves considerable risk. This book examines the long-term consequences of this decision for children who entered public care for abuse or neglect. It compares the experiences and progress of children who remained in care or returned to their birth families up to four years after the decision was taken. It covers how the decision is made, and the factors taken into account when making it, while providing important suggestions for effective decision-making. It compares the progress made by the children in relation to their safety, stability and emotional well-being. The book demonstrates that, contrary to common belief, long-term care can be a positive option for maltreated children.

Challenges for family mediation

K. Stylianou

Family Law, Aug. 2011, p. 874-877

The coalition government is encouraging the use of mediation for separating families as opposed to going through litigation. There is a danger that the widely understood benefits of family mediation for all parties may be lost due to pressures on mediators and challenges to the principles of mediation created by reforms to the family justice system. This article begins by exploring the rationale for the principles and ethics of mediation. It then looks at some of the pressures that family mediators may encounter that could create ethical dilemmas for their practice through challenges to those principles.

Child protection and safeguarding in England: changing and competing conceptions of risk and their implications for social work

N. Parton

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 41, 2011, p. 854-875

This paper critically reflects on policy developments in England relating to child protection and safeguarding since the early 1990s. It argues that between the early 1990s and late 2008 the state developed a much broader focus of concern about what caused harm to children and what the role of professionals should be in relation to this; increasingly the emphasis was on safeguarding rather than on child protection. These developments were implemented in the context of the introduction of a range of new IT systems and heavy reliance on top-down performance management. Such developments had the effect of marginalising the role of social work in children's services. However, since late 2008 the focus has shifted more centrally to child protection, and there has been renewed official priority given to social work. The election of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition government in May 2010 has given added impetus to these developments.

Child-centred foster care: a rights-based model for practice

A. Goodyer

London: J. Kingsley, 2011

Fostering is vitally important: the majority of looked after children are fostered, yet these children are often left out of the agenda and their voices are not heard. This book sets out a child-centred approach to foster care which argues against thinking about children purely from a psychological perspective and instead places children's views, rights and needs at the centre of care. It sets out the theory behind working in partnership with children who are fostered, and discusses children's views about fostering systems and living with foster carers. The book then outlines how to put the theory into practice, offering models, processes and best practice examples. Practical advice is given on establishing effective communication and good working relationships between practitioners, carers and foster children.

Children suffer as adoptions fall to new low

R. Bennett

The Times, September 29th 2011, p. 1 &12

The crisis gripping England's adoption system deepened in 2010, with the number of children in care finding permanent new families sinking to its lowest level for a decade. The figures suggest that troubles within the adoption system have deepened in the aftermath of the Baby P tragedy as the number of children in care has risen.

Children's wellbeing in UK, Sweden and Spain: the role of inequality and materialism: a qualitative study

Ipsos Mori Social Research Institute in partnership with A. Nairn

UNICEF UK, 2011

In this study researchers asked children in Sweden, Spain and the UK about their ideas on happiness and success. They found that children in Spain and Sweden were significantly happier than those in the UK. In Spain and Sweden, family time was prioritised and people felt less pressure to own material goods. In the UK parents working long hours were too tired to play with their children and compensated by showering them with toys and designer clothes. Children themselves said that they would prefer to spend more time with their parents. The report calls for a ban on advertising aimed at children under 12 and for government to encourage parents to work fewer hours and spend more time at home. It also warns councils against closing children's playgrounds and other facilities due to spending cuts.

Could boarding be the answer?

D. Lombard

Community Care, Sept. 8th 2011, p. 16-17

Boarding school has fallen out of favour as an option for children at risk of being taken into care, as social workers have focused on keeping families together. There is also a perception among professionals that boarding schools are for the privileged few. Kent County Council decided to revive the model, and began offering boarding school places for up to 50 children at risk of entering care in 2011.

Councils to keep most youth services in-house

A. Hillier

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 23rd-Sept. 5th 2011, p. 14-15

Data obtained through freedom of information requests from 90 out of 152 local authorities in England revealed that councils on average contracted out 27% of their youth services in 2011/12. By 2012/13, local authorities anticipated that the percentage of services contracted out would increase marginally to around 32%, with 68% delivered in-house. The findings came despite repeated calls from government for local authorities to contract out more services.

Cutbacks imperil young runaways as local helplines pull the plug

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 23rd-Sept. 5th 2011, p. 16-17

There is anecdotal evidence that local authority funding cuts are disproportionately hitting services for runaway children. A government decision to drop the national target that required local authorities to report on how they were supporting children who run away from home has meant that services for runaways are low on the agenda.

Early intervention using the CAF process and its cost-effectiveness: findings from LARC 3

C. Easton and others

National Foundation for Educational Research, 2011

This study aimed to investigate the extent to which early intervention supported by the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) process is both cost-effective and enables better outcomes for children. Eighty case studies produced by the 21 participating local authorities were analysed. Professionals, parents, children and young people were interviewed and workshops were held for moderation purposes. A 'futurising' methodology was used to assess what the outcomes might have been without early intervention. It is concluded that CAF processes lead to better outcomes for children and that initial investment in early intervention, supported by the CAF process, can lead to significant savings through a reduction in specialist services accessed in the future.

The evaluation of arrangements for effective operation of the new local safeguarding children boards in England

A. France, E.R. Munro and A. Waring

Department for Education, 2010 (Research report DFE-RR027)

This research examines the extent to which local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) address the weaknesses of their predecessors, area child protection committees. In particular, the study evaluates how LSCBs promote effective inter-agency work in child protection. It is concluded that LSCBs promote a greater sense of shared responsibility for child protection and stronger leadership than previous arrangements. Despite policy changes under the Coalition government, this study contributes usefully to the debate about how the child protection system can be developed locally.

URL: https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/DFE-RR027.pdf

Everybody's business? A research review of the informal safeguarding of other people's children in the UK

S. Holland, S. Tannock and H. Collicott

Children and Society, vol. 25, 2011, p. 406-416

This paper presents evidence on how children are informally safeguarded, and their welfare enhanced, in neighbourhoods and communities based on a review of the research literature from 1990. It begins by briefly reviewing the UK policy background, and continues by noting popular and academic discourses on the subject. It then reviews existing empirical evidence about how children are informally safeguarded in communities. There is clear evidence that children and parents are often highly supported in local communities and kin networks, particularly in the areas of childcare and parenting support. There is limited empirical evidence of how adults act when they are concerned about the wellbeing of other people's children in their community.

How to find the way in

G. Carson

Community Care, Sept. 15th 2011, p. 16-17

Child protection social workers seeking to engage with newly arrived immigrant families may face entrenched resistance to co-operating with the state. This problem can be tackled by voluntary and community organisations acting as a bridge between services and families. The article presents a case study of the work of Norwood, which seeks to facilitate relationships between statutory services and the Orthodox Jewish community in Hackney.

Only 60 babies adopted last year

T. Ross

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 29th 2011, p. 16

Official figures showed that of 3,660 children under one year old who were in care in England in 2010, only 60 were adopted, compared with 70 the year before and 150 in 2007. The decline in the adoption of all children continued, falling to 3,050 in 2010, which was 8% lower than in 2007. At the same time, the number of children in care rose to 65,520, 9% up on 2007.

(See also Independent, Sept. 29th 2011, pp. 1-4)

Out of work and school ... our lost generation

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 14th 2011, p. 12

Figures released by the OECD showed that out of 32 nations, the UK had the ninth highest number of teenagers not in education, employment or training. Only Spain, Italy and Ireland had higher rates among EU nations. The data fuelled fears that a generation had been failed despite the billions of pounds invested in education by New Labour.

Parenting support undervalued in early intervention spending

M. Garboden

Community Care, Aug. 18th 2011, p. 4-5

Experts have claimed that the English riots of August 2011 demonstrate the need for more investment in parenting programmes. However, responses to a freedom of information request showed that local authorities were at that time spending only about 6% of their early intervention grant on parenting support.

Recognizing and helping the neglected child: evidence-based practice for assessment and intervention

B. Daniel and others

London: J. Kingsley, 2011

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse, but recognizing the signs, assessing the family's and the child's needs, and undertaking intervention can be difficult and complicated. This book, based on extensive research of the evidence, outlines how neglect can be recognized, examining the signs that parents give to signal their need for help, and the signs that a child's needs are not being met. It then covers how practitioners should respond, including assessment, planning, and appropriate interventions. The authors examine whether practitioners are well-equipped to recognize child neglect, and whether professional responses could be swifter. Finally, the prevention of child neglect is considered, and a proposal for a public health approach and early intervention is outlined. The book includes case studies and makes recommendations for policy and practice.

Riots

N. Puffett and L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 23rd-Sept. 5th 2011, p. 8-13

Riots and looting in England's major cities in August 2011 prompted the coalition government to announce a range of measures, many targeted on young people and their families. This special report documents reaction to these measures from the children's rights lobby, the youth justice system, family charities, and education unions. It concludes with views from a range of young people on the causes of the riots and possible solutions.

Successful fostering of black and ethnic minority children

S. de Sousa, R. Roach and J. Lawrence

Community Care, Sept. 1st 2011, p. 32-33

Research has shown that the foster placement of black children with black families promotes the development of identity and a positive sense of self. The sense of community responsibility for one another in black culture also enables black foster parents to facilitate contact between fostered children and their birth parents. The article goes on to consider the implications of the research evidence for professionals in the context of government guidance.

Think-tank proposes student loans-style scheme to fund childcare

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 9th-22nd 2011, p. 12-13

The Social Market Foundation is drawing up plans for a system of government loans that could help parents meet the cost of childcare. The low-interest loans would be paid back on a monthly basis directly from parents' salaries once their earnings moved above a set threshold. It is argued that the loans model would boost demand for childcare and generate more revenue for the sector, allowing providers to offer more high quality and flexible services.

Third of local authorities no longer own or run children's homes

C. Pemberton

Community Care, Sept. 15th 2011, p.4-5

Responses to a freedom of information request sent to 108 English councils reveal that more than a third no longer own or run a residential children's home. Almost half of the local authorities (49%) had closed at least one of their homes in the previous five years and 17% were planning to close at least one home or were reviewing their service. There is a sector shift towards councils commissioning and buying far more beds from the private and independent sectors under contract or from preferred suppliers.

Trust and early years childcare: parents' relationships with private, state and third sector providers in England

J. Roberts

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 40, 2011, p. 695-715

There are concerns that institutional change in the delivery of public services in England, such as the introduction of market-based approaches, may disrupt trust in providers. This paper reports findings from an empirical study which explored users' trust in organisations which provide preschool childcare. It considers whether organisational form or sector is perceived to be a significant indicator of trustworthiness or untrustworthiness, and examines organisational behaviours which may support or hinder trusting relationships. Results suggest that a priori signals, such as sector, have little effect on decisions to trust. Instead, parents actively construct trust through observation of, and interactions with, providers. There is some benefit in provision through an integrated centre, where parents develop trust over time prior to preschool childcare use.

Young people's advice services take a 180m hit

A. Hillier

Children and Young People Now, Aug. 9th-22nd 2011, p. 8-9

Figures obtained through freedom of information requests to all 152 local authorities in England reveal that councils have budgeted to spend 180m less on information, advice and guidance for teenagers in 2011/12 than in 2010/11. The Education Bill currently before Parliament will place a duty on schools to provide access to careers advice from September 2012.

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