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

ADOPTION REGISTER FOR ENGLAND AND WALES: ANNUAL REPORT APRIL 2003-MARCH 2004

London: 2004

In its second year of operation the Register facilitated the adoption of only 50 hard-to-place children. During the year the number of viable links between waiting children and potential adopters provided by the Register trebled from 600 to 1800. There is concern that more of these have not been converted into adoptions.

ATTACKS ON PAEDIATRICIANS 'PUT CHILDREN AT RISK'

S. Laville

The Guardian, June 7th 2004, p. 10

Children are being put at risk as a result of a campaign of harassment and intimidation against some paediatricians by some groups representing parents. Paediatricians claim the level of vilification against them is so great that many are shying away from suggesting a child has been abused, because of the public attacks on their reputation which can follow.

A BASELINE STUDY OF OUTCOME INDICATORS FOR EARLY YEARS POLICIES IN SCOTLAND: FINAL REPORT

F. Wasaff and others

Scottish Executive, 2004

In Scotland a range of policies aimed at improving children's health, development and ability to learn have been introduced. The aim of these policies for the early years is to give children under five the best start in life, with an emphasis on reaching the most vulnerable. This study aims to explore the effectiveness of these early year's policies through two approaches. An indicator study looks at the extent to which the impact of early years policies can be measured, whilst a case study of two contrasting local authority areas explores ways in which policies have been interpreted and integrated at a local authority level.

BENEFIT OR BURDEN?

K. Leason

Community Care, May 20th-26th 2004, p.30-32

The article describes a pilot project run by Bromley Social Services to recruit volunteers to visit families where a child is on the child protection register. Each volunteer will be matched with a family and required to visit at least three times a week. The project is based on a similar programme in California, which claims to have significantly reduced the levels of child abuse.

THE BICHARD INQUIRY REPORT

M. Bichard

London: TSO, 2004 (House of Commons papers, session 2003/04; HC653)

Ian Huntley, caretaker at Soham College, was convicted in December 2003 of the murders of school girls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells. He had come to the attention of Humberside Police in relation to allegations of eight separate sexual offences from 1995 to 1999. However this information did not emerge during the vetting check carried out by Cambridgeshire Constabulary at the time of his appointment to Soham Village College in 2001. The Inquiry found that there were systematic and corporate failures in the way that Humberside Police managed their intelligence system which led to their not identifying Huntley's behaviour pattern. The problem was compounded because Social Services failed to share information effectively with the police. The report also identifies errors made by Cambridgeshire Constabulary in handling Huntley's vetting check.

BICHARD TIGHTENS THE RULES ON REPORTING CASES OF UNDER-AGE SEX

S. Gillen

Community Care, July 1st-7th 2004, p.18-19

The Bichard Inquiry found that social workers and the police do not take allegations of under-age sex seriously. It recommends that social workers should always notify the police of such allegations unless the couple are close in age. It also recommends that national guidance be issued based on a protocol developed in Sheffield to help social workers identify potential abuse in such relationships.

CHILD ABUSE EXPERTS USED AS WITNESSES FACE REVIEW

T. Helm

The Daily Telegraph, June 18th 2004, p.1

Reports the announcement of a tough new approach on the use of expert witnesses in child abuse cases following a series of miscarriages of justices involving women wrongly convicted of murdering their children. Margaret Hodge, the Children's Minister, told MPs that she was determined witnesses should be competent and properly assessed.

(See also: The Times, June 18th 2004, p.15; The Guardian, June 18th 2004, p.5)

CHILD'S PLAY

N. Kelly

Community Care, July 1st-7th 2004, p.34-35

Research by Barnado's shows that the government has not incorporated children's views into its Children Bill. The Bill proposes locating social services in schools, but children are keen to keep them out. They also prioritise play and fun over educational attainment which is emphasised as a key outcome in the Bill. Finally they regard information as personal and wish to be in control of what is shared.

CONNEXIONS SERVICE ADVICE AND GUIDANCE FOR ALL YOUNG PEOPLE

National Audit Office

London: TSO 2004 (House of Commons papers, session 2003/04; HC 484)

The Connexions Service provides good quality advice to young people seen by personal advisers, and is working well to build strong partnerships with other agencies. The proportion of young people not in employment, education or training fell by 8% in established partnership areas between November 2002 and 2003, indicating that Connexions is on track to achieve its target of a 10% reduction by 2004. There is still a risk that not all young people who would benefit from advice are receiving it due to Connexions operating with fewer resources than originally planned.

THE COST OF PROVIDING STREET-BASED YOUTH WORK IN DEPRIVED COMMUNITIES

[T. Wylie and G. Smith]

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2004 (Costings)

The report finds that a systematic street-based youth service would cost a small fraction of the amount spent on other services targeted at socially excluded and disaffected young people.

THE ELECTRONIC EYE: EMERGENT SURVEILLANT PRACTICES IN SOCIAL WORK WITH CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

P. M. Garrett

European Journal of Social Work, Vol. 7, 2004, p.57-71

Since the 1980s surveillance has increasingly emerged as a means of social control. In England, there has been a growing preoccupation with identifying and tracing children considered to be at risk of falling into criminal or antisocial behaviour. In the area of child protection, New Labour plans to use information "hubs" to electronically log details of all children and families to identify those at risk. Social workers throughout Europe need to critically analyse these developments.

FOSTER CARE

N. Valios and others

Community Care, May 27th-June 2nd 2004, p.29-39

The article gives an overview of the state of fostering in Britain, covering pay and training for carers, foster care for children from non-conventional backgrounds, developments in private fostering and the daily routines of foster carers.

HELP WITH CHILDCARE COSTS

J. Spencer

Daycare Trust, 2004

Help with childcare costs is available from a range of different sources. This briefing covers parents who are very young, those who are lone parents, those who are entering training or work, and those already in work who want to use childcare.

LOOKING AFTER CHILDREN IN SCOTLAND: GOOD PARENTING, GOOD OUTCOMES: REPORT ON FILE AUDIT OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES' USE OF LOOKING AFTER CHILDREN MATERIALS

S. Vincent, J. Irvine and A. Partington

Social Work Services Inspectorate, 2004

In 2003, 29 local authorities who were using the Looking After Children materials audited their files. The main findings of the audit were:

  • essential Core Records and Placement Agreements were well used, with 80% of children having a complete record and agreement;
  • only half of the children had an Essential Background Record, which in many cases had not been updated;
  • 70% of the children had a Care Plan with generally good quality information, although many had not been updated for more than 6 months;
  • most reviews had been held within statutory timescales and in the majority of cases there was a social worker's and carer's review report;
  • only 8% of children had an Assessment and Action Record and only a few were fully completed.

A MATTER OF CHOICE? EXPLAINING NATIONAL VARIATIONS IN TEENAGE ABORTIONS AND MOTHERHOOD

E. Lees and others

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2004

There is considerable geographic variation across Britain in the proportion of under-18 conceptions ending in abortion. The research found that more deprived areas have higher rates of conception under 18 and lower proportions of such conceptions ending in abortion. Young women's decisions tended to depend on the economic and social context of their lives rather than on abstract moral views. Young women who perceived their lives as insecure were more likely to view motherhood positively. However, those with good education and career prospects regarded the baby as an obstacle to be removed.

MENTORING DISAFFECTED YOUNG PEOPLE: AN EVALUATION OF MENTORING PLUS

M. Shiner and others

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2004

Mentoring Plus programmes combine one-to-one support provided by a volunteer mentor recruited from the local community with a programme of education, training and social activities. The research team followed the progress of 370 young people aged 12 to 19 who were recruited to the programme. The evaluation showed that the programme helped a significant number of young people at risk take up education, training and work opportunities. However, there was no evidence that mentoring had an impact on crime, drug and alcohol use, family relationships or self-esteem - areas less targeted by the intervention. Researchers call for service planners to be more realistic about what mentoring programmes can be reasonably expected to achieve.

MP LAUNCHES BILL TO BAN JUNK FOOD ADVERTISING

D. Ghose

Young People Now, May 26th-June 1st 2004, p.5

A bill banning junk food advertising to young people has been launched in an attempt to reduce child obesity. As well as the ban, it advocates making food and nutrition education part of the national curriculum and improving the quality of food aimed at young people.

PARENTS MAY GET PERSONAL ADVISER ON CHILDCARE

M. Bunting

The Guardian, June 21st 2004, p.1

Working parents could have a personal adviser to help them find childcare and negotiate flexible working with their employer under a scheme being considered by the government. Parent Direct would offer telephone help lines and a face-to-face service to help millions of working parents who say they do not know where to find information to help them juggle work and family responsibilities. The idea, still in its earliest stages, might even be extended to carers.

PROTECTING CHILDREN FORM SEXUAL HARM: CONSULTATION

Scottish Executive

Edinburgh: 2004

A consultation on proposals to introduce legislation creating a specific offence of grooming children for sexual contact via the Internet. The report also presents proposals for a new order. The Risk of Sexual Harm Order would ban individuals who have displayed inappropriate behaviour towards children from specified activities such as loitering in particular areas.

REACHING SOCIALLY EXCLUDED YOUNG PEOPLE: A NATIONAL STUDY OF STREET-BASED YOUTH WORK

D. Crimmens

National Youth Agency, 2004

Street-based youth work with socially excluded young people has grown significantly in recent years, but its geographical coverage remains uneven. There has been a shift away from longer-term, area-based projects towards short-term interventions with particular high-risk groups or on particular issues. The projects studied served as an important source of information about educational and career opportunities for the most disaffected young people who were often out of contact with other agencies. The projects also appeared to be successful in reintroducing young people to education, training and employment and supporting their entry to it. To achieve these aims, workers believe that they needed to adopt a flexible approach based on voluntary involvement and responsiveness to the needs of individual young people.

RESCUE REMEDIES

E. Chase

Community Care, May 20th-26th 2004, p.40-41

Support for young care leavers who become teenage parents is patchy. However, many do not view parenthood negatively, describing it as having a stabilising effect. Discussions with the young parents revealed the need for access to a trusted adviser who could provide practical and emotional support and help them to navigate the benefits system. This role could be played by key workers, Connexions personal advisors or independent advocates.

TIME TO TURN OFF?

M. Hunter

Zero2nineteen, June 2004, p.12-13

As US study has found that for each hour of television watched per day by young children increases the risk of them developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by 10%. The article reviews the findings of a British study by the National Library Trust, which advises parents to only allow their children to watch programmes appropriate for their age group, to make sure they discuss programmes with their children and to ensure that television viewing is combined with more healthy activities such as reading, exercising and playing with other children.

WILLING……BUT ABLE?

B. Hudson

Community Care, June 17th-23rd 2004, p.36-37

The article reports discussions and papers at an event on the children's services reforms held under the auspices of the Integrated Care Network (ICN). It is suggested that the wide range of desired outcomes underpinning the reforms in the Children Bill requires a whole-systems response that goes beyond traditional forms of ad hoc co-ordination.

WORTH THE HEARTACHE?

A.U. Sale and E. Chase

Community Care, May 20th-26th 2004, p.36-38

The Teenage Pregnancy Unit advocates sex education combined with non-judgemental, user-friendly and appropriate sexual health services to reduce the incidence of early motherhood. This approach is challenged by the charity Family and Youth Concern, which advocates abstinence.

YOUNG PROFESSIONALS

T. Philpot

Health Service Journal, Vol. 114, June 3rd 2004, p.34-35

Most child protection inquiries have identified the failure of professionals to work closely across occupational boundaries as a major problem. The article looks at attempts to develop generic training for child care work to complement specialist knowledge and skills to give professionals a common language.

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