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

BROWN STAKES HIS CLAIM AS CHILDREN'S CHAMPION WITH BOOST FOR EDUCATION

L. Revans

Community Care, Mar. 25th-31st 2004, p.20

The article summarises support for education and children's services promised in Gordon Brown's 2004 budget. This includes extra money for development of extended schools, the Sure Start early intervention programme, and children's trusts.

CALCULATING RISK

J. Carvel

Guardian Society, Apr. 28th 2004, p.10

Civil liberties groups think the government's plan to put details about England's 11 million children on an electronic register smacks of the Big Brother state. Social services chiefs believe it is an essential step to prevent victims of abuse or neglect falling through the child protection net. Can protection be offered to the vulnerable without infringing on civil liberties?

THE CAREER LADDER

H. Gregory

Young People Now, Mar. 31st-Apr. 6th 2004, p.18-19

At present there is little scope for professional or career development for youth workers who don't want to move into management. There are calls for the establishment of an advanced practitioner grade to acknowledge and reward experienced youth workers who wish to remain in frontline work.

CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION IN FAMILY LAW PROCEEDINGS: A STEP TOO FAR OR A STEP TOO SMALL?

E.K.M. Tisdall and others

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, Vol.26, 2004, p.17-33

The article considers the right of children to be involved in decisions about their lives. Although the principle that young people should have their views considered when important decisions are made about their lives is gaining ground, children's participation in family law proceedings is controversial, with many adults thinking that children should not have such rights, because it is not in their best interest, because it undermines parental authority, etc. The article examines legislation in Scotland, where the Children's (Scotland) Act 1995 goes further than other UK legislation, for example by allowing children to initiate private proceedings if they are considered to be legally competent, before summarising research in England and Wales. It then examines the views of professionals and considers children's experiences of Court. The article finds that children want to be consulted when their parents separate or divorce, although they are reluctant to have to choose between their parents. It emphasises that they need more information as to the options available to them to improve their experience of, and access to, proceedings. In conclusion, it cautions that while the need to consider children is now recognised, care must be taken that it does not become an "add on" to essentially adult-orientated services, thus denying children access to independent information, advice or representation.

CHILD PROTECTION AND RISK MANAGEMENT: THE DEATH OF VICTORIA CLIMBIÉ

S. Johnson and S. Petrie

Journal of Social Policy, Vol.33, 2004, p.179-202

The article compares the organisational and communication failures which led to the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the death of Victoria Climbié. It suggests that the risk management techniques used in commercial organisations could be applied to social work and child protection services.

CONCURRENT PLANNING: MEETING THE NEEDS OF YOUNGER LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN

E. Monch

ChildRight, no. 205, 2004, p.8-11

Concurrent planning for children in care was imported from the USA in 1998. It is designed to accelerate placement of children with permanent families and reduce the number of moves children experience while in care. The system involves social workers pursuing two plans at the same time. The birth family is given intense support and help in addressing its problems, with a view to having their child returned. At the same time, the child is placed with a foster family which has been approved for adoption. If the birth family cannot resolve its difficulties, the child is adopted by the foster family. An evaluation of three projects in the UK showed them to be successful in their aims of accelerating permanent placement and reducing the number of moves experienced by looked after children.

CONSULTATION ON ADOPTION SUPPORT

Department for Education and Skills

London: 2004

The report announces plans for registered adoption support agencies in England to act as intermediaries for adult birth relatives wishing to find adopted children. Birth relatives will not be able to make direct contact with an adopted adult and no-one will be entitled to information about a child under 18. Support agencies will have to obtain the informed consent of the adopted adult and can provide counselling.

DECONSTRUCTING THE "UNPLANNED" PREGNANCY: SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND SEXUAL HEALTH STRATEGIES IN SCOTLAND

S. Greene

Youth and Policy, No. 82, 2003/04, p.27-46

Government has regarded teenage pregnancy as a social problem to be combated through more intensive sex education and by improving young women's career prospects through participation in training programmes. These strategies have failed. The article reports research suggesting this is because early motherhood is not regarded as a problem by young working class women and their families, but as a positive experience.

DEEP WOUNDS

P. Storey, J. Hurry and C. Brownjohn

Community Care, Apr. 8th-14th 2004, p.40-41

The study followed a group of 16-to-22-year-olds with a history of self harming behaviour. It found that most young people who self harm do not contact health services. Most of those who do reported inadequate follow-up services. Nearly half of the self-harmers interviewed were unemployed, and many reported accommodation problems and family difficulties. Self-harm in young men is linked to substance use problems while in young women it is associated with relationship problems. It concludes that self-harm is more a syndrome than an event and requires a multi-agency response.

(For case studies of young people who self harm see Community Care, Apr. 8th-14th 2004, p.38-39)

THE FLAWS THAT BICHARD MUST ADDRESS TO KEEP IAN HUNTLEY AT BAY

S. Gillen

Community Care, Apr. 15th-21st 2004, p.14-15

The article identifies the mistakes by social workers, police, the school and the Criminal Records Bureau which led to Ian Huntley being appointed caretaker at Soham Village College. It suggests measures that could be put in place to prevent a repeat of the circumstances which led to Huntley murdering two young pupils.

FORCING THE ISSUE

D. Hart

Community Care, Apr. 22nd-28th 2004, p.38-40

There is wide variation across social care, education and the youth justice system in policy and practice regarding physical restraint of young people. The author calls for an urgent review of its use.

FROM VISION TO REALITY: TRANSFORMING OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

Local Government Association and others

London: LG Connect, 2004

The document suggests ways in which government proposals for the reform of children's services can be translated into reality by local partnerships. It aims to support local partners to:

  • improve outcomes for children on a sustainable basis;
  • create a whole system approach;
  • ensure local delivery of improved services to all children, with an emphasis on strengthening universal and preventative services and on safeguarding children.

It provides some suggestions about how to design a change process, achieve cultural and organisational change, plan services that make sense, and use resources effectively.

GET IT SORTED

Department for Education and Skills

2004

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 amended the Children Act 1989 to impose a duty on local authorities to provide advocacy services. This should ensure that assistance is provided when looked after children or care leavers raise an issue or complaint. The guidance contains information on the complaints procedure, ways to maintain the independence of the advocate, how to monitor the advocacy system, and information sharing.

URL:

INTER-COUNTRY ADOPTION: NEW PROVISIONS

G. Haworth

ChildRight, no. 205, 2004, p.17-20

The Adoption (Inter-Country Aspects) Act 1999, implemented in June 2003, has given the UK a comprehensive legal framework dedicated to inter-country adoption. It also allows the UK to ratify the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Inter-Country Adoption 1993 (Hague Convention) and so join the international community in the regulation of inter-country adoption.

LEARNING FROM THE VICTORIA CLIMBIÉ INQUIRY

M. Rustin

Journal of Social Work Practice, Vol. 18, 2004, p.9-18

The article critically reviews Lord Laming's report on the Victoria Climbié inquiry. It finds that although the report accurately portrayed the events leading to Victoria's death, attributed responsibility for failures to individuals involved in the case, and made a number of useful recommendations, it did not explore the systemic problems that caused poor service provision, or suggest solutions.

LORDS GREET BILL BUT SEEK MORE MONEY AND INDEPENDENCE FOR COMMISSIONERS

L. Revans

Community Care, Apr. 8th-14th 2004, p.18-19

The article details the House of Lords' reaction to the Children Bill. Peers want to amend the bill to give the Children's Commissioner for England greater independence and more financial resources. There are also concerns that the clauses on information sharing and database development are too vague, leaving too many important decisions to be made in light of regulations and guidance.

(For details of the UK's other Children's Commissioners see Community Care, Apr. 8th-14th 2004, p.32-34)

MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF CLIMBIÉ AND SOHAM - PART 2

S. Room

New Law Journal, Vol. 154, Apr. 9th 2004, p.526-527

The article considers the government's reactions to Lord Laming's report on the death of Victoria Climbié, focusing particularly on the Identification, Referral and Tracking (IRT) initiative, the Green Paper "Every Child Matters", and the Children Bill. The article also examines the national children's database with regard to data protection issues.

MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF CLIMBIÉ AND SOHAM - PART 3

S. Room

New Law Journal, Vol. 154, Apr. 16th 2004, p.590-591

The article considers the best ways to identify those who threaten children. Current databases and future policies are explored, including the new violent offender and sex offender register (ViSOR), the Criminal Records Bureau and the sex offenders register. The article also examines the relationship between the databases and the Data Protection Act (DPA), focusing particularly on the Bichard inquiry, set up to investigate the child protection procedures in Humberside Police and Cambridge Constabulary following the Soham murders. It stresses that enforcement mechanisms contained in Part IV of the DPA, regarding data accuracy and adequacy, must be examined to prevent old problems recurring in new databases. Without such scrutiny, it cautions, the new children's database could cause more harm than good.

THE NEW CHILDREN BILL - AN OVERVIEW

Social Care Law Today, Issue 19, March 2004, p.2-5

The article summarises the major parts of the Children's Bill, introduced to Parliament in March 2004. Amongst other things, the Bill would establish a children's commissioner for England and strip the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) of its functions in Wales.

OUT OF THE LOOP

N. Stanley

Community Care, Apr. 15th-21st 2004, p.32-33

The article reports results of research into the relationships between mothers with mental health problems and child care social workers. Mothers regarded child care social workers as judgemental and untrustworthy. However, they were more positive about community mental health workers. It concludes that community mental health workers and child care social workers need to share the task of co-ordinating assessments and services for families whose mothers have mental health problems. Unfortunately the new structures proposed in the Children Bill will have the effect of cutting children's services off from services for adults.

PARENTS' AND CHILDREN'S PERCEPTIONS OF A FAMILY SUPPORT INTERVENTION FOR CHILD BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS

S. Window, M. Richards and P. Vostanis

Journal of Social Work Practice, Vol. 18, 2004, p.113-131

The article details children's and parents' experiences of a family support intervention following child behavioural difficulties, as well as considering its effectiveness.

POOR HOUSING IS HARMING HEALTH OF YOUNG PEOPLE

J. Plummer

Young People Now, 21st-27th April 2004, p.6

Shelter, the homelessness charity, has claimed a million young people are growing up in adequate housing, to the detriment of their health and education. It has called on the government to make the same commitment to reducing unsuitable housing for young people as it has to reducing child poverty.

THE REAL MEANING OF PARTICIPATION

B. Boyle

Professional Social Work, Apr. 2004, p.14-15

The article discusses the ways in which young people can be involved in recruiting staff for children's services.

REVERSING A SPIRAL OF DEPRIVATION: WORKING TO AMELIORATE THE RELATIONSHIP OF STAFF AND BOYS IN A RESIDENTIAL HOME

A. Briggs

Journal of Social Work Practice, Vol. 18, 2004, p.33-48

The article examines the difficult relationship between adolescent boys in a care home and the staff looking after them. Although the home's principle aim was to provide a nurturing environment, with staff acting as an alternative parental figure, relations between the staff and the boys had deteriorated. The boys were extremely agitated and difficult to contain and staff suffered both verbal and physical abuse. The study explored the complexities of the relationship between the staff and the boys, and staff were encouraged to understand themselves as being recipients of projections, leading to deeper insights of the boys' problems. This wider understanding of the boys difficulties in turn led to an improvement in the relationship.

SOCIAL SERVICES DIRECTORS FEAR MERGED SERVICES WILL COMPROMISE CHILD SAFETY

D. Hayes

Community Care, Apr. 22nd-28th 2004, p.18-19

The article reports the results of a survey of Directors of Social Services, which revealed a mainly negative response to government plans to merge children's services with education departments.

STATE REGULATION OF PARENTING

E. Munro

Political Quarterly, Vol. 75, 2004, p.180-184

The government's green paper "Every Child Matters" contains proposals for the creation of a computerised system for recording information about all children that will be available to any professional coming into contact with them. The government's underlying assumption is that all parents are potentially dangerous, are not to be trusted and need constant state monitoring. The author argues that while the database may bring to light more children in need of early intervention for low level problems, services to support them are not available.

SUPER ROLE MODELS

T. Burke

Young People Now, Apr. 14th-20th 2004, p.18-19

The article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of mentoring schemes for young people. Supporters see it as a means to raise achievement and self-confidence, to guide career development and to support vulnerable young people. Critics see it as a form of social engineering designed to control young people's behaviour and make them into model workers.

TIME TO PUT SAFETY FIRST

J. Valero

Community Care, Apr. 15th-21st 2004, p.34-35

The article calls for a national protocol on sharing information about people who pose a risk to children and vulnerable adults. The protocol should stipulate:

  • the kind of information that should be shared by agencies, including unproven allegations;
  • the point at which information should be shared;
  • to whom the information should be communicated;
  • the range of checks that must be made in relation to people who have access to children or vulnerable adults.

A TOOTHLESS WATCHDOG: SHORTCOMINGS OF THE MANDATE FOR THE CHILDREN'S COMMISSIONER

R. Harvey

ChildRight, no. 205, 2004, p.4-6

The newly published Children Bill establishes a Children's Commissioner for England, but with powers that are so weak that the postholder will be unable to act effectively as an independent champion for children. While the Bill does provide the Commissioner with the valuable role of seeking out and promoting children's views, there is no corresponding duty on government or any other party to respond to, or even consider, them.

TOYING WITH THEIR FUTURE: THE HIDDEN COST OF THE HOUSING CRISIS

London: Shelter 2004

The report reveals that more than a million children in the UK growing up in overcrowded, unfit or emergency housing suffer health and psychological problems and are less likely to succeed educationally. More than a million houses in the UK are unfit for habitation and more than half a million families live in housing that is officially overcrowded. One in twelve children is more likely to develop diseases such as bronchitis, TB or asthma because of bad housing. Homeless children are also suffering behavioural problems including mood swings, hyperactivity, depression, reluctance to eat, disturbed sleep and bed wetting.

A VICTIM OF TRADITION

S. Irfan

Community Care, Mar. 25th-31st 2004, p.42-43

Physical punishment is not uncommon among British Pakistani families, although the more extreme forms of child abuse are not widespread. A lack of awareness of the expectations and standards set by mainstream British society means that Pakistani parents continue to use disciplinary methods brought from their homeland. They need help with looking at alternative means of child discipline. This could be most effectively delivered by Asian voluntary organisations.

VOLUNTARY SECTOR IS KEY IN PARTNERSHIP STRATEGY

D. Ghose

Young People Now, Mar. 31st-Apr. 6th 2004, p.9

The article discusses the challenges faced by Connexions partnerships in working in partnership with voluntary organisations to deliver advice and support to hard-to-reach young people.

A YOUNG LIFE DESTROYED BY ABUSE AND NEGLECT, A SYSTEM UNABLE TO DELIVER ON PROMISES

M. Firth

The Independent, Apr. 30th 2004, p.2

Article summarises the findings of the report on the death of Toni-Ann Byfield. The investigation concludes that yet again a young girl has been killed because of basic blunders, bad management and misguided policies on what is best for the most vulnerable children in society. A year after Lord Laming said his damning inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbié should trigger a revolution in social services, yesterday's report on Toni-Ann Byfield highlighted exactly the same failings and called for the same improvements.

(See also The Independent, Apr. 30th 2004, p.1; The Guardian, Apr. 30th 2004, p.6; Daily Telegraph, Apr. 30th 2004, p.5)

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