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

300m boost to childcare pot for low-earning women

P. Wintour

The Guardian, Oct. 7th 2011, p. 6

The coalition has responded to growing poll pressure to improve its standing among women by announcing an extra 300m to help with childcare costs when the universal credit starts in 2013. The extra 300m funding will cover the cost of making childcare available for the first time to the 80,000 women who currently do not receive help because they work 16 hours a week or less. If the extra cash had not been found to add to the 2bn childcare pot set aside by government, then the decision to help women working 16 hours or less would have reduced the money available for those working longer hours. Low-income working women suffered a big cut in childcare support in April 2011 following the government's decision to reduce funding from 80% to 70% of childcare costs.

(See also The Times, Oct. 7th 2011, p. 26)

Cameron pledges to transform adoptions

R. Watson

The Times, Oct. 6th 2011, p. 1, 8

'Prime Minister embraces Times campaign'. David Cameron is to take a close personal interest in a new government drive to boost the number of children placed with families. He vowed to end the 'scandal' of thousands of children lost in the care system, saying that the country's most vulnerable young people deserve better.

Changing times for child assessments

D. Lombard

Community Care, Sept. 29th 2011, p. 16-17

One of the most popular changes proposed in the Munro Review of child protection in England was the abolition of mandatory timescales on assessments. The Department for Education is now revising the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children in line with the proposal and the changes are due to be implemented by the end of 2011. This article reports the experiences of three of the councils piloting the changes in respect of what needs to be done to prepare.

Child and working-age poverty from 2010 to 2020

M. Brewer, J. Browne and R. Joyce

The Institute for Fiscal Studies, 2011

This Commentary presents forecasts of relative and absolute income poverty in the UK among children and working-age adults for each year between 2010-11 and 2015-16, and for 2020-21, using a static microsimulation model augmented with forecasts of key economic and demographic characteristics. It updates and extends previous JRF-funded work by Mike Brewer and Robert Joyce, which forecast poverty through to 2013-14, and builds on previous ESRC-funded work by Mike Brewer, James Browne and Wenchao Jin, which simulated the impact of Universal Credit on household incomes.


Children's social care spending

J. Cooper and C. Pemberton

Community Care, Sept. 29th 2011, p. 4-5

Data summarising council budgets for 2011/12 show that: 1) funding allocated to asylum-seeking children has dropped by 29% and that allocated to children in need by 23%; 2) spending on looked-after children's education has fallen by 21%; 3) youth justice has taken a 6% hit; 4) spending on serious case reviews and child death overviews is set to more than double; and 5) spending on special guardianship orders is predicted to rise massively, possibly at the expense of adoption support. Council spending on services for disabled children is also set to increase despite fears that they could be vulnerable to cuts following the abolition of ring-fenced budgets.

Hostile witnesses

J. Wild

Community Care, Oct. 6th 2011, p. 16-17

Social workers involved in child protection struggle to deal with hostile and intimidating parents and often receive little support from their employers. Serious case reviews have concluded that bad decisions have been made because social workers had been intimidated by parents involved in the case. This article argues that a national response is needed

Locked out of prevention? The identity of child and family-oriented social work in Scottish post-devolution policy

J. McGhee and L. Waterhouse

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 41, 2011, p. 1088-1104

This paper explores the place of child and family social work in post-devolution Scotland. It analyses key Scottish policy documents to trace the evolution of social work policy in general and children's services policy in particular. Policy is used as a lens through which to consider where government appears to locate social work resources and where registered social workers are held to be accountable. It is argued that general social work and children's services policies, when taken together, may produce an effect that appears to lock social work out of early intervention and prevention. Instead, child and family social work is aligned with hard cases where balancing care and control and use of involuntary measures are to the fore. It is suggested that protection of title, a UK-wide change, may have served to reinforce the alignment of registered social workers with these hard cases.

Minister warns of cuts' impact on child carers

R. Ramesh

The Guardian, Oct. 4th 2011, p. 6

The children's minister has warned colleagues that the government's welfare changes "appear to undermine" ministerial commitments to support children of disabled lone parents by cutting as much as 3,500 a year from benefit payments. In a letter seen by the Guardian, the education department minister, Tim Loughton, points out to Lord Freud at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that the "planned changes in the Welfare Reform Bill appear to undermine our efforts to ensure young carers are recognised and supported". The letter exposes divisions over how heavy a burden the poor and vulnerable should bear from the budget cuts. Many argue that slashing welfare payments to disabled lone parents means their children will be forced to spend more time caring and less time growing up.

NCS pilots reveal one in four drop-out rate

N. Puffett

Children and Young People Now, Sept. 20th-Oct. 3rd 2011, p. 8-9

The pilot National Citizen Service (NCS) schemes run in Summer 2011 involved a two week residential stage followed by six weeks spent doing part time voluntary work in the community. A snapshot survey of managers of pilot schemes showed that 294 of the 322 young people who enrolled completed the residential stage, but only 240 of the starters went on to complete the entire programme. Some respondents said the two-week residential stage was a struggle due to the length of time 16-year-old children were away from home. However, overall project managers said that the NCS scheme was well received by those taking part.

See the practitioner, see the child: the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families ten years on

J. Horwath

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 41, 2011, p. 1070-1087

The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families was introduced in 2000 to focus assessments on the needs of individual children. This small study explored, through focus group discussions, the experience of 62 front-line staff who use the Framework. Barriers to effectively focusing assessments on the needs of the child which emerged included heavy workloads, limited training opportunities, lack of guidance and support materials, performance targets, an organisational context driven by New Public Management systems, failure to establish meaningful relationships with families, and a concern with risk management that separates risk from need.

Times praised for alerting No 10 to the need for action

R. Bennett

The Times, Oct. 6th 2011, p. 8, 9

'Britain's adoption crisis. The Prime Minister's intervention is expected to add considerable momentum to much needed reforms to the system.' The Prime Minister used his Party conference speech to pledge a new focus on adoption and, in particular, the injustice of ethnic minority children being made to wait in care while families who would like to adopt them are turned down on the ground of race.

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