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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2012): Child welfare - overseas

Child participation in the family courts: lessons from the Israeli pilot project

T. Morag, D. Rivkin and Y. Sorek

International Journal of Law, Policy and Family, vol. 26, 2012, p. 1-30

This article describes the Israeli pilot project for child participation in the family courts that ran from 2006 to 2009 and presents the findings of the formative evaluation of the pilot. The model involved the establishment of a special department for child participation staffed by social workers within the Family Court Social Services. Social workers attached to the department explained their participation rights to the child, who could choose to either meet the judge personally or to have their words relayed to the court by a social worker.

Economic decision models: can they inform child welfare policy?

R.M. Kaplan

Child Abuse and Neglect, vol. 36, 2012, p. 1-3

US policymakers are told that small investments in children who face personal or social challenges will result in improved economic status and better health outcomes. Meanwhile the federal budget deficit is at an all time high and many states are on the verge of bankruptcy. Policymakers are both reluctant to invest in social programmes, and have difficulty in choosing between available alternatives. Many feel that they have insufficient information to make crucial decisions. Economic modelling has to potential to offer some guidance to policymakers. This paper establishes the need for systematic and rigorous evaluations, and also points to the difficulty and cost of carrying out credible assessments.

It was a Zionist act: feminist politics of single mother policy votes in Israel

A. Herbst and O. Benjamin

Women's Studies International Forum, vol. 35, 2012, p. 29-37

Current social policy in Israel regarding state support for single-parent families is the result of two major legal actions: feminist mobilisation that successfully promoted the 1992 Single Parent Families Law and the neo-liberal modification of this law introduced by the Ministry of Finance in 2002. The 1992 law was the first statutory recognition of the single-parent family in Israel and established its social rights. The 2002 economic reform was a policy change that took place outside public debate, demonstrating the neo-liberal normativity that was dominant in the Finance Ministry.

Obstacles for child participation in care and protection cases: why Norwegian social workers find it difficult

S. A. Vis, A. Holtan and N. Thomas

Child Abuse Review, vol. 21, 2012, p. 7-23

Although the Norwegian child welfare legislation makes it mandatory for children aged seven and over to participate in care and protection proceedings, many case managers are not involving children in decision making. The research reported in this paper sought to investigate the reasons for this through a survey of 53 case managers and 33 student social workers. Results showed that: 1) some social workers would not facilitate participation because they were afraid of harming the children in the process; 2) some gave up in the face of the difficulty and complexity of achieving effective participation; and 3) social workers felt that they lacked appropriate communication skills and were prevented by organisational barriers from developing necessary relationships with the children.

The relative performance of Head Start

C. Koedel and T.Techapaisarnjaroenkit

Eastern Economic Journal, vol. 38, 2012, p. 251-275

Head Start is a federal matching grant programme that provides disadvantaged children with access to early education. A recent large scale impact study suggested that Head Start had positive immediate effects on the children, but these were disappointingly small. These results led to calls to improve the efficacy of the programme. However, it is not clear that Head Start is performing worse than can reasonably be expected. This study compared the performance of Head Start with that of other childcare centres and found that both performed similarly. The results suggest that expectations of Head Start may be too high.

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