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Welfare Reform on the Web (October 2003): Child Welfare - UK

ABSENT FATHERS

S. Womach

The Daily Telegraph, September 11th 2003, p.4

The Child Support Agency continues to fail to collect maintenance payments from absent fathers.

A BETTER EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN IN CARE

Social Exclusion Unit

London: 2003

Nearly half of all children in care leave school with no qualifications. Improving stability in care and support at school can boost educational attainment. Measures outlined in the report mean that children in care will get better personal education plans to support learning needs and more books to help learning at home. Designated teachers will encourage children in care to stay on at school after the age of sixteen and more work placements will be available to help them fulfil their potential.

BRINGING GRANDPARENTS IN FROM THE COLD

M. Reardon

Family Law Journal, No. 29, Sept. 2003, p.16-18

Up to 85% of children receive some care form their grandparents, and although this figure is mainly confined to babysitting and holiday care, 3% of pensioner households contain dependent children living permanently with the family. However, if the relationship between the parents breaks down or social services are brought in, grandparents can struggle to remain involved. It is often easier for social services to place children with a foster carer, rather than a grandparent who has not been vetted. Local authorities are under no obligation to inform grandparents of care proceedings, and yet to remain involved grandparents must make applications for party status and/or for leave to make their own residence application. Even those coming before the courts often have their applications treated as just a codicil to the substantive case. As grandparents continue to exercise the parenting role in increasing numbers it is hoped that the courts will become more sensitive to the need to respect their significant role within the family. Nevertheless, easier access to information and legal advice is required.

CHILD DEATHS DUE TO ABUSE MAY BE DOUBLE THE OFFICIAL FIGURES, WARNS UNICEF

J. Meikle

The Guardian, September 19th 2003, p.7

Two children under fifteen are dying from maltreatment each week in Britain, twice as many as official records suggest, according to Unicef. However, the charity was criticised for its unfairly assuming the causes of a number of these deaths, with the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths accusing their figures of being "seriously misleading".

(See also: The Independent, September 19th 2003, p.1)

CHILDREN AT RISK 2002-2003: GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES AND COMMENTARIES ON GOVERNMENT POLICIES

C. Rogers

National Family and Parenting Institute, 2003

Paper summarises findings from the Laming Inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbié and the recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, alongside thinking in other commentaries from inside and outside government. Considers how government policies on children's services and family support and recent key initiatives in the field have responded to the issues raised in the commentaries.

A CONTRACT FOR YOUTH

P. McCurry

Young People Now, Sept.10th-16th 2003, p.14-15

Examines areas where services for young people are contracted out to private sector providers and assesses the viability of this approach.

COUNCIL INQUIRY INTO MURDERED GIRL'S CARE

J. Wilson and A. Akwagyiram

The Guardian, September 17th 2003, p.5

Birmingham social services have launched an inquiry into the death of Toni-Ann Tia Byfield. The seven-year-old was in their care when she was shot in her father's North London bedsit. A spokesman said the review would determine whether there were "lessons to be learned …about the way we work with partners to safeguard children".

(See also: The Times, September 17th 2003, p.3)

CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE

P.J. White

Young People Now, Sept.3rd-9th 2003, p.16-17

Government has set a target that 60% of young people using the youth service should achieve an "accredited outcome" such as a Duke of Edinburgh Award or an Asdan Youth Award. Such awards can offer disaffected young people a route back into learning.

DAY CARE: GUIDANCE TO THE NATIONAL STANDARDS REVISIONS TO CERTAIN CRITERIA

Ofsted

London: 2003

The National Standards for Under Eights Day Care and Childminding are a set of outcomes providers must achieve. From September 1st 2003, the Department for Education and Skills introduced revisions to some of the criteria in the national standards. Document updates Ofsted's guidance to the Standards on full day care, sessional day care, out-of-school care, crèches and childminding.

DHSSPS STRATEGY FOR CHILDREN IN NEED: DEVELOPING THE STRATEGY

Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for Northern Ireland

Belfast: 2003

Consultation document on plans for the development of a strategy for children in need in Northern Ireland. The proposed strategy is:

  • based on a clear set of regional objectives;
  • based on a consistent approach to service planning and assessment;
  • based on collaboration with other statutory and voluntary sector bodies;
  • designed to work in conjunction with other initiatives such as Children's Services Plans;
  • based on clearly delineated responsibilities of service providers

DIVERSITY AND CHILD PROTECTION

Dr. J. Brophy

Family Law, Vol. 33, 2003, p.674-678

Concern at the over-representation of black children in care, dissatisfaction of families over the attention given to their race, culture and religious diversity during court proceedings and the implications of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2002 (s71 (1)) have all led to a focus on issues of diversity in child protection litigation. This article, the first of two, presents findings from a review of racial and cultural diversity in clinical writing and research based on a literature review funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

THE END OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT OF CHILDREN? RECENT ENGLISH DEVELOPMENTS

R.K.M. Smith

Human Rights & UK Practice, Volume 4 Issue 2, 2003, p.9-11

From this autumn childminders and those with responsibility for day-care provision will be prevented from using physical chastisement, bringing them into line with other professionals such as nursery staff and teachers. The defence of "reasonable chastisement" will no longer apply and any incident of physical chastisement may be actioned under existing criminal law. The only right to physical chastisement now lies with the holders of parental rights, and even this right is not unfettered.

EVERY CHILD MATTERS

Treasury

London: TSO, 2003 (Cm 5860)

The death of Victoria Climbié highlighted failings across the board in our ability to protect vulnerable children and this green paper addresses the needs of children at risk in terms of protection but also in maximising their potential.

  • Reducing educational failure, ill health, substance misuse, teenage pregnancy, abuse and neglect, crime and antisocial behaviour among children are the aims of all involved.
  • The government has created a Minister for Children, Young People and Families to co-ordinate the work of the police, social workers, health organisations and teachers, giving children's services a single organisational focus.
  • Improved support and training for foster carers and social workers is also on the agenda.
  • A Children's Commissioner, who will report annually to Parliament, will act as an independent champion for children, making sure that children are involved in the decisions that will shape their futures and ensuring that their voices are heard.
  • Also proposes that every local authority creates an "information hub" listing every child in their area, detailing their name, address, school and GP, and stating if they are known to the police or social services.
  • Each child's entry would be accessible through a single identifying number and would be updated as they grow up so that appropriate services could be provided for them.
  • Other proposals include basing health and social care services in schools, replacement of Area Child Protection Committees with statutory local Safeguarding Children Boards, and inspection of children's services by Ofsted.
  • Finally, all councils will be expected to appoint a single director responsible for both education and children's social services.

(See also The Guardian, September 8th 2003, p.7; Community Care, Sept. 18th-24th 2003, p.16-41; Public Finance, September 19th -25th, 2003, p.28-9)

EXTENDING ENTITLEMENT AND GLOBAL YOUTH WORK

G. Murphy with C. Urack

Youth and Policy, no.80, 2003, p.44-51

Discusses the policy document "Extending Entitlement: Support for 11-25-Year-Olds in Wales", which was published by the Welsh Assembly government in November 2000 in response to the Learning and Skills Act 2000. Every local authority is directed to facilitate the development of a Young People's Partnership (YPP) that has representation from a broad range of agencies that work with and for young people. The Partnerships are expected to develop rolling five-year strategic plans for improvement of youth support services based on the Assembly's identified priorities and local priorities. Paper explores the role of the youth service in achieving the policy objectives set out in the document and how varying perspectives on social inclusion and youth empowerment might be observed during the process of developing the YPPs' priority objectives. Also seeks to highlight ways in which the methodology of development education or global youth work might support young people's and youth workers' participation in this process.

FATHERS' CONTACT WITH CHILDREN

E. Huckle

New Law Journal, Vol. 153, no. 7096, September 19th 2003, p.1365

3.5 million children in the UK live apart from one of their natural parents and family law judges are considering how to reform the system. A forthcoming pilot scheme will force parents to attend briefings on post-separation parenting, formulating a parenting plan and contact arrangements, before obtaining a judicial hearing. It is hoped that the new scheme could avoid up to 75% of contested hearings.

FREE CARE FOR UNDER-5S "WOULD BOOST ECONOMY"

A. Frean

The Times, September 10th 2003, p.7

The benefits of state-subsidised, universal, childcare would far outweigh the costs, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The move would increase the number of economically active people supporting pensioners and would enable women to build up pensions of their own. It might also benefit young children's education, as a very significant part of cognitive and non-cognitive skills development occurs before children start school.

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES IN YOUTH WORK

D. Bourn

Youth and Policy, no.80, 2003, p.6-21

Paper argues that a priority for youth work should be to provide young people with the skills and knowledge to respond to the unfolding impact of globalisation and the global society. It further suggests that for this to be effective, global youth work needs to ensure that its practice is grounded in participatory methodology, it promotes a positive value base and that connections are made between local and global issues.

THE IMPACT OF THE ADOPTION AND CHILDREN ACT 2002: PART 2 - THE PROVISION OF SERVICES FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

J. Masson

Family Law, Vol. 33, September 2003, p. 644-649

As well as modernising adoption law, the Adoption and Children Act 2002 makes fundamental changes to key public law provisions in Parts III and IV of the Children Act 1989:

  • Services provided under S.17 now specifically include providing accommodation, although in practice this did occur under the "general duty" clause. There are concerns that this may undermine services rather than clarify responsibility as local authorities may use it to provide for separated children.
  • Carers may now apply for a residential order after one year of care rather than three, removing the anomaly with the Adoption Act.
  • Children, adoptive parents or guardians, prospective adopters, adopted persons, natural parents and former guardians now all have the right to request an assessment for support services. This should place those involved in the adoption process at the front of the queue for services but may also discriminate against families, who may be forced to abandon their struggle to care for their children.
  • The Act contains no power to charge for adoption support services and local authorities are not required to apply a means test. This may make it harder for families in difficulty to get support.
  • The Act creates statutory responsibilities on local authorities to prepare and review care plans, and on courts to consider them. This is in practice a minor amendment as it does little to remove the divisions of responsibility between social services and the courts and there are still inadequate resources to implement improvements.

INJECTION OF CLARITY NEEDED

K. Stalker

Community Care, 21-27 August 2003, p.32-33

There is confusion amongst social services and health managers regarding the position children and young adults who are hospitalised for a prolonged period of time. Are hospitalised children with complex needs under the jurisdiction of social services? The law in England and Wales - which states that a health authority, education authority or NHS trust must inform social services that accommodation will or has been provided for a child - differs to that in Scotland, where this only applies if the parents involved are not in contact with their children. Clarification is required to ensure that children with complex needs are treated in the same way as other children and that, where the circumstances demand it, they are included in the looked-after system.

KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE: THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE TO THE VICTORIA CLIMBIÉ INQUIRY REPORT AND JOINT CHIEF INSPECTOR'S REPORT "SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN"

Department of Health, Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions

London: TSO, 2003 (Cm 5861)

Report covers problems with the present child protection system, characteristics of a modern system, and government interventions. Summarises policy initiatives in the areas of prevention and early intervention, interagency collaboration, assuring good practice in social services, rationalising guidance, information collection and sharing, and staff training.

LABOUR 'FAILING TO HELP 1 MILLION POOREST CHILDREN'

J. Carvel

The Guardian, September 2nd 2003, p.9

The government's drive to reduce child poverty is helping the marginally poor, but failing 1 million children at the bottom of the income scale. Nearly one in ten children have suffered severe and persistent poverty, going without necessities such as properly fitting shoes and being more likely to miss meals. Save the Children was surprised to discover that the poorest children were not from families permanently on benefits.

LOCAL CHILDREN WELCOME THEIR NEW COMMISSIONER

C. Hughes and S. Walker

Scope, September 2003, p.20

Children in Northern Ireland now have their own commissioner. Nigel Williams' main role is to bridge the gap between children and politicians, as well as listening to and acting upon children's problems and concerns.

MODELS OF ADOPTION SUPPORT: WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T

H. Argent (ed.)

BAAF Adoption and Fostering, 2003

This book explores the types of support that are required throughout all stages of the adoption process. Its articles include:

  • Providing mutual support for birthing mothers
  • Youth work with adopted children and young people
  • A model of post placement therapy and support for adoptive families
  • Adoption support services for adults
  • Online adoption support and advice

NO KIDDING

S. Grant

Health Service Journal, September 18th 2003, p.15

Discusses the potential benefits of the government's patient choice initiative to children's services, and how users' views can be effectively sought.

REVOLUTIONISING YOUTH WORK: BLACK PERSPECTIVES IN GLOBAL YOUTH WORK

V. Chauhan

Youth and Policy, no.80, 2003, p.34-43

Globalisation is a Northern based concept which reflects the views of the dominant European cultures and is operationalised substantially to their benefit. A "Black" Southern view is almost non-existent in the formulation of the concept. Author argues that it is essential to incorporate a Black perspective into any analysis of global life. Goes on to discuss how a Black perspective on global issues can be incorporated into youth work.

SERIOUS INJURIES AND DISCREPANT PARENT/CARER EXPLANATIONS

Dr. P. Dale,

Family Law, Vol. 33, September 2003, p.668-673

Serious injury with discrepant explanation (SIDE) cases are some of the most challenging that child protection systems and courts have to deal with. This article defines SIDE, lists the different types of injury and parental explanations for them and considers the social aspects of abuse. It concludes that there needs to be a greater consistency in how SIDE cases are treated and stresses the importance of independent, evidence-based assessment.

SEVEN YEARS' JAIL PROPOSED FOR IGNORING CHILD ABUSE

R. Verkaik

The Independent, September 16th 2003, p.8

Relatives and neighbours who suspect a child is being abused but fail to act upon it could face up to seven years in prison. A proposed new offence would make it a crime to fail to take "reasonable steps" to stop a child being injured or killed once suspicions had been raised.

(See also: New Law Journal, Vol. 153, No. 7096, September 19th 2003, p.1368)

"SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME": CHILD PROTECTION ISSUES WHEN CHILDREN SUSTAIN A SUBDURAL HAEMORRHAGE

C. Cobley and T. Sanders

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, Vol. 25[2] 2003, p.101-119

The article is part of a series of studies taking place at Cardiff University and the University of Wales College of Medicine aimed at increasing knowledge and understanding of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) and giving children greater protection. It includes a case study of 54 children where a child protection referral had been made following suspected SBS. The study investigates the children's families and social background, their hospital reports, the action taken following referral and parental explanations regarding their injuries. It concludes that despite growing public and professional awareness of the existence of SBS, many carers remain unaware of the dangers of shaking a young child and there is an urgent need for health promotion on this issue. In particular, as 70% of those responsible for injuring a child by shaking are male, prevention campaigns must be targeted at men. The study also recommends broadening the scope of risk assessment to include older siblings of children who have been the subject of protection referrals.

SUPPORTING YOUNG PEOPLE LEAVING CARE IN SCOTLAND: CONSULTATION ON REGULATIONS AND GUIDANCE TO IMPROVE SERVICES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE CEASING TO BE LOOKED AFTER BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Scottish Executive

Edinburgh: 2003

The proposals are designed to ensure that young people leaving care are adequately prepared for the next stage in their lives. They will ensure that young care leavers have somewhere safe to live, appropriate help with their income and access to local health services. They propose improvements in needs assessments, closer involvement of young people in the through-care and aftercare process, and strengthening follow-up contact for young people leaving care.

TEENAGERS NEED ATTENTION TOO

T. Donovan

Young People Now, Sept.17th-23rd 2003, p. 7

Discusses the implications of the green paper on children's services "Every child matters" for youth work.

UP IN THE AIR

N. Valios

Community Care, September 4th-10th 2003, p.26-28

At the same time as proposing to scrap the child protection register, the government is planning to create domestic violence registers. The National Adoption Register has not been a resounding success in matching up children and prospective parents, and the promised protection of vulnerable adults register has been put on hold.

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