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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2004): Child Welfare - UK

THE BILL DOES NOT ADD UP

J. Snell

Community Care, Mar. 18th-24th 2004, p.30-31

There are three main areas of concern about the Children Bill now before Parliament. These are:

  • the lack of power invested in the new Children's Commissioner for England;
  • the proposed role of schools as the main focus of commissioning and delivering children's services in future;
  • where the money to turn the vision behind the Bill into reality is going to come from.

BLURRED VISION OF A SAFER FUTURE

M. Dean

Society Guardian, Mar. 3rd 2004, p.2-3

The Children's Bill promises to improve the way young people are protected and supported. The author questions whether the proposed restructuring can work.

BUILDING A BETTER FUTURE FOR CHILDREN: KEY MESSAGES FROM INSPECTION AND PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT

Social Services Inspectorate

London: DH Publications, 2004

The report summarises evidence from inspections of children's services, the Victoria Climbié self-audit evaluation and information provided in councils' delivery and improvement statements. It stresses the importance of effective service commissioning based on a good understanding of local needs; of early intervention and support for parents; of steps to ensure fair and equal access to services; and of competent leadership and management in encouraging staff retention.

BUILDING BRIDGES? EXPECTATIONS AND EXPERIENCES OF CHILD CONTACT CENTRES IN SCOTLAND

K. Sproston, K. Woodfield and K. Tisdull

[Edinburgh]: Scottish Executive Social Research, 2004

Child contact centres promote and support contact between children and their parents. The research investigated users', referrers' and staff expectations and experiences of contact centres.

THE CARE STANDARDS TRIBUNAL: SOME EARLY CASES

D. Pearl

ChildRight, issue 204, 2004, p.14-16

The Care Standards Tribunal was set up under s.9 of the Protection of Children Act 1999. Article gives an overview of appeals filed in some 280 cases since April 2002, many of which have concerned the regulation of childminders and day care providers.

CENTRES OF ATTENTION

C. Chamberlain

Community Care, Feb. 19th-25th 2004, p.36-37

Summarises results of research on what children, and the adults that work with them, want from the care system. Investigations showed that:

  • the service should focus on the needs of the child rather than on paperwork and meetings;
  • good relationships between the child and family, friends and professionals should be promoted;
  • young people should be actively involved in decisions about their lives;
  • bureaucratic processes need to be minimised.

CHILDHOOD, POLITICS AND AMBIGUITY: TOWARDS AN AGENDA FOR CHILDREN'S POLITICAL INCLUSION

M. Wyness, L. Harrison and I. Buchanan

Sociology, Vol.38, 2004, p.81-99

The article examines the relationship between young people and the world of politics. On the one hand children are located within the private and personal sphere of the family, where they are under the care and control of their parents. The family is seen as preparing them for a future role in public life. On the other hand children as increasing regarded as having collective interests that require political articulation.

CHILD POVERTY IN THE CAPITAL

D. Gaffney

New Economy, Vol.11, 2004, p.3-14

London has the highest child poverty rate in Great Britain, with over a third of children living in households with incomes below 60% of the median after housing costs. The article explores the reasons behind this, including the number of workless households in the capital, the cost and limited availability of childcare and the low percentage of part-time workers in comparison to other parts of the country.

CHILD PROTECTION SERVICES FACE CRISIS AS PROFESSIONALS TIRE OF INTIMIDATION

N. Salari

Community Care, Mar. 18th-24th 2004, p.18-19

Rising levels of complaints, intimidation, threats and physical assaults are deterring doctors for entering child protection work. However, the situation is expected to improve as child protection becomes the responsibility of all professionals involved in children's lives, not simply that of specialists or designated consultants.

CHILDREN BILL

London: TSO, 2004 (Session 2003/04, Bill no. 35)

Bill provides for:

  • appointment of a Children's Commissioner for England;
  • improved information sharing through a database that will contain records on all children;
  • appointment by all local authorities of a Director of Children's Services to cover social care and education;
  • establishment of children's trusts by all councils;
  • introduction of an integrated inspection regime;
  • replacement of Area Child Protection Committees with local safeguarding children boards.

(For summary, see Community Care, Mar.11th-17th 2004, p.18-19; for interview with the Children's Minister, see Community Care, Mar.11th-17th 2004, p.20-21)

COURT ACTION WILL TEST DISCRIMINATORY FOSTERING PAYMENTS TO KINSHIP CARES

S. Gillen

Community Care, Mar. 4th-10th 2004, p.18-19

Councils are discriminating against kinship foster carers by paying them less than non-kinship carers and failing to offer them training or access to help from a social worker. Some kinship carers are now taking councils to court in the hope of getting more money.

DON'T KNOCK THE EXPERTS

N. Valios

Community Care, Feb. 26th-Mar. 3rd, 2004, p.30-31

The article expresses concern that growing scepticism about experts' evidence in child abuse cases may weaken the protection system.

DRAFT REGULATIONS AND GUIDANCE FOR CONSULTATION: CARE PLANNING [AND] SPECIAL GUARDIANSHIP

Department for Education and Skills

London: 2004

The document includes draft guidance on the role of the care planning process in ensuring that children are securely attached to carers capable of providing safe and effective care for the duration of their childhood. It also includes draft regulations and accompanying guidance for the introduction of the special guardianship order, a legal route to permanence for children who cannot live with their parents.

EARLY YEARS: PROGRESS IN DEVELOPING HIGH QUALITY CHILDCARE AND EARLY EDUCATION

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2004 (House of Commons papers, session 2003/04; HC268)

The government has spent some £13bn on early years services since 1998. It is now on course to provide free part-time early education places for all three- and four-year-olds whose parents want one by 2004. In the region of 96,000 more childcare places have been created overall for preschool children since 1998, but threats exist to the sustainability of the new provision. Affordability has improved for parents benefiting from the free part-time early education places and from the childcare tax credit, although costs have risen for others. A detailed framework of measures to improve the quality of childcare has been put in place, but problems attracting staff to the sector remain.

LEARNING TOGETHER

R. Booker

Community Care, Feb. 26th-Mar. 3rd 2004, p.36-38

The integration of children's services proposed in the Green Paper Every Child Matters should lead to education and social services adopting a more joined up approach to assessing educational needs. Social care needs to take account of education as a force for child development, while schooling needs to take account of parenting capacity.

PARENTS' VIEWS ON SOCIAL WORK INTERVENTIONS IN CHILD WELFARE CASES

T. Spratt and J. Callan

British Journal of Social Work, Vol.34, 2004, p.199-124

The article reports on the final part of a three-part research project examining the potential for social workers to shift from a child protection to a child welfare orientation in their practice. Findings from the first two stages of the project - which indicated that although a large number of child protection cases could be reclassified as child welfare cases, the child protection processes continued to influence the way in which cases were handled - are summarised before the current study's methodology is outlined. Twelve families referred to social services were interviewed regarding their feelings towards child welfare interventions. The study examined the nature of the referral (whether by the family themselves or through a GP or anonymous caller), the families' initial contact with their social worker and their subsequent contact with both their social worker and other professionals. Results showed that, regardless of the nature and source of the referral, parents' relationships with their social worker proved to be the most influential factor in their evaluation of their experience of social work. The article concludes that child welfare interventions are both similar to and different from child protection investigations and although most social workers are skilled in monitoring risk whilst engaging with families these subtleties are not recognised by official measures of governance, leading to inconsistencies in practice.

PROTECTING CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE: FRAMEWORK FOR STANDARDS

Scottish Executive

Edinburgh: 2004

The publication was issued as part of the Executive's drive to deliver improved services for children and young people. The standards set out demand that:

  • children get the help they need when they need it;
  • professionals take timely and effective action to protect children;
  • professionals ensure that children are listened to and respected;
  • agencies and professionals share information about children where this is necessary to protect them;
  • agencies and professionals work together to assess risks and develop effective plans;
  • professionals are competent and confident agencies work in partnership with members of the public to protect children;
  • agencies demonstrate accountability for their work.

ROLE MODELS

A.U. Sale

Community Care, Mar.11th-17th 2004, p.34-35

Describes, with case studies, a scheme for mentoring the parents of children with behavioural difficulties, using trained volunteers.

SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN: CHILD PROTECTION: GUIDANCE ABOUT CHILD PROTECTION ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE EDUCATION SERVICE

Department for Education and Skills

2004

A consultation about revised draft guidance on arrangements for child protection in schools and further education colleges in England.

SHARING A LAUGH? A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF MENTORING INTERVENTIONS WITH YOUNG PEOPLE

K. Philip, C. King and J. Shucksmith

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2004

Mentoring has become an important element of government strategy for supporting vulnerable young people. Researchers looked at the impact of mentoring on young people in three settings: a housing project and education project where paid key workers acted as mentors and a befriending scheme where volunteers acted as mentors. They conclude that while mentoring cannot remedy all the ills facing vulnerable young people, it can be one of a number of useful tools. The approach, however, needs to be varied to suits the needs of individual young people.

SUPPORT FROM THE START: WORKING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES TO REDUCE THE RISKS OF CRIME AND ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

C. Sutton, D. Utting and D. Farrington (Eds.)

Department for Education and Skills (Research Report: 524)

A review of research evidence which identifies early interventions with vulnerable children that have demonstrated the greatest promise for preventing persistent conduct problems and reducing the risk of future anti-social behaviour, including drug abuse and offending.

SURE FOOTING

A. Moore

Health Service Journal, vol.114, Mar.25th 2004, p.14

The Sure Start programme provides a package of intensive support for families from the most deprived areas, with the aims of pulling them out of poverty, enabling their children to benefit from education, and improving their health.

TWO-WAY STRETCH

K. Wise

Community Care, Mar. 18th-24th 2004, p.32-33

From April 14th, children in care will have the statutory right to independent advocacy when making a complaint about a local authority service. Unfortunately the legislation that gives them this right, the Adoption and Children Act 2002, places responsibility for commissioning services with the local authorities they are intended to challenge.

THE UPHILL STRUGGLE AGAINST CHILD POVERTY

C. Denny and L. Elliott

The Guardian, March 31st 2004, p20

Labour's concerted attack on child poverty since 1997 has failed to prevent the gap between rich and poor in Britain becoming wider than it was under the Conservatives, government figured showed yesterday. Britain has moved from bottom place in the European child poverty league tables, but Labour has so far only made a small dent in the massive increases in deprivation that occurred under the Thatcher administration. More than 700,000 children have been lifted out of poverty since 1997, leaving 3.6 million still living in families earning less than 60% of average income - the government's poverty line.

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