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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2012): Child welfare - UK

Adoption action plan tackles delays in the system

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 20th-Apr. 2nd 2012, p. 10-11

This article discusses four key points from the Coalition government's adoption action plan published in March 2012. The publication of the action plan marks the next step in the government's drive to reduce delays in the system. To this end, it proposes targets for how long the process from entering care to being adopted should take. The plan also sets out measures for speeding up the assessment and approval of potential adopters, which, it says, should take no more than six months. It advocates concurrent planning. Under this approach, prospective adopters are also approved as foster carers, so that they can start looking after children as soon as they enter care. If a return to birth parents proves not to be feasible, then the carers adopt the child. In order to monitor the performance of local authorities, the government plans to publish new annual adoption scorecards for them.

Challenges of 2012/13

R. Chandiramani

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 3rd-16th 2012, p. 22-23

Report of a debate in which senior local government figures thrashed out the challenges facing children's services in 2012/13. Four key topics dominated the proceedings: working with troubled families; health reforms; social investment; and the future role of local authorities.

Clubs step in to support young people with mental health problems

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 3rd-16th 2012, p. 14-15

The charity Clubs for Young People has concluded a three-year initiative exploring how youth clubs can support young people with emotional problems. The project found that youth provision could play a vital role in stopping young people with 'low-level' mental health problems from developing a more serious illness, particularly in the most disadvantaged communities.

The criminalisation of forced marriage

C.R. Proudman

Family Law, Apr. 2012, p. 460-465

At present there is a civil remedy designed to protect those threatened with, or subjected to, forced marriage in the shape of Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPOs). In December 2011 the government launched a consultation on the criminalisation of forced marriage. It sought the public's views on how criminalisation of breaches of FMPOs should be implemented and whether a specific criminal offence of forced marriage would help combat the practice. This article examines the government's proposal to criminalise breaches of FMPOs and argues in favour of creating a specific criminal offence aimed at preventing such marriages.

Criminalising forced marriage

K. Anderson

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 20th-Apr. 2nd 2012, p. 29

Forced marriage is a marriage to which one or both parties do not consent. Instead they are coerced through physical, psychological, financial, sexual or emotional pressure. The government has announced its intention of criminalising forced marriages. This article looks at the arguments for and against this course.

Directors can seize freedoms to shape national policy for local need

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 3rd-16th 2012, p. 8-9

Report of an interview with Debbie Jones, incoming president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services, in which she argues that the sweeping reforms introduced by the Coalition government offer local authorities unprecedented freedoms to shape services to meet local needs. Policy priorities for the Association include the role of local authorities in health and education reform, in changes to adoption and care, and in the government's initiative to turn around troubled families.

Foster system at breaking point as 10,000 children a year need help

N. Lakhani and J. Taylor

The Independent, Apr. 12th 2012, p. 2

New data showed that applications to place vulnerable children in care had soared. The total number of applications between April 2011 and March 2012 was up by 10.8 per cent, rising from 9,202 over the same period the previous year, according to CAFCASS, the agency which looks after children's interests in the family courts. The rise in applications could be due to the pressure on social workers following the death of Peter Conelly, which prompted criticism of social workers for not acting quickly enough. This rise in applications was putting pressure on an already strained system.

Interprofessional working in practice: learning and working together for children and families

L. Trodd and L. Chivers (editors)

Maidenhead: OUP, 2011

Written by a multi-professional team of contributors and grounded by their experience in interprofessional work, this book relates the rhetoric of interprofessionalism to discussions and examples of practice. The authors draw on their experiences of a wide range of practice settings to propose that a new professionalism is required in an interprofessional world. They emphasize that it is only by using interprofessional understanding and awareness when engaging with practice issues that professionals will develop the safety and quality in work with children that is now required. The book argues that individuals cannot learn to work effectively in the complex, ever changing world of services for children and families, without first gaining understanding of interprofessionalism and internalizing appropriate values and principles.

Preventive orientations in children's centres: a study of centre managers

M. Sheppard

British Journal of Social Work, vol.42, 2012, p. 265-282

Children's centres have a potentially important part to play in providing support to combat the ill effects of disadvantage on families whose needs are not severe enough to gain access to statutory child protection services. However they stand between the Labour government's commitment to 'progressive universalism' and coalition plans to target only high-need families. In circumstances where policy emphasis is changing, the discretion of those operating on the ground is highly significant and can affect the types of services offered as well as the groups at which they are targeted. This research sought to explore children's centre managers' general perceptions of the nature and extent of preventive services appropriate to meet need, target groups, and the skills required in a rural local authority while the policy of 'progressive universalism' was in place.

Under closer inspection

T. Donovan

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 3rd-16th 2012, p. 25-27

Inspections of children's social care services are undergoing a radical change. This article identifies common principles underpinning Ofsted's new regime. The most obvious change is a decisive shift away from generous notice periods for inspections towards minimal notice periods. The second common principle of the new inspections is that greater attention will be paid to the child's journey and experiences of the system, with more focus on direct observation of frontline practice. The final common feature of the new framework is a greater emphasis on listening to what service users say about the service being inspected, although it is not clear how this will be achieved in practice.

Welcome to our 'hood

D. Hayes

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 20th-Apr. 2nd 2012, p. 22-23

The Young People Friendly Neighbourhoods scheme was launched in October 2011 to put youngsters aged 11 to19 in a position to shape and run youth services alongside local residents and agencies. It is funded until March 2013 with a 2.7m Department for Education grant. This article presents a case study of one project located in Burton Latimer, Northants.

Workforce disintegration?

C. Goddard

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 20th-Apr. 2nd 2012, p. 25-27

Since 2005, the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) has had the principal role of advancing the skills of people working across children's services, which it has done through a range of training programmes and initiatives. At the end of March 2012, the CWDC was abolished as part of the Coalition government's 'bonfire of the quangos'. Its responsibilities have been divided among various agencies and arms of government. The Department for Education has assumed responsibility for children's social work, foster and residential care; the Catalyst Consortium has taken charge of the young people's workforce; the Teaching Agency has been given early years provision, educational psychology and SENcos; and the Children's Improvement Board will oversee integrated working.

Would a licence to practice raise the bar?

J. Mahadevan

Children and Young People Now, Apr. 3rd-16th 2012, p. 10-11

Work in the early years sector is widely seen as low status, low paid and low skilled. Consideration of a licensing system, linked to qualifications, is to be undertaken as an option for improving standards and the status of early education and childcare staff. This article reports comments from experts in the field on the proposal.

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