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

ADOPTION AND CHILDREN ACT 2002: WHERE ARE WE SO FAR?

S. Mahmood

Family Law, Vol.34, 2004, p.449-452

The article explores the impact the Adoption and Children Act 2002 has made, examining changes that have already been made and those that are pending.

ALL ABOUT MY BROTHER

A. Naylor and P. Prescott

Community Care Sept. 2nd-8th, 2004, p.34-35

The article discusses a research project investigating the needs of siblings of disabled children. The need for support groups for siblings of disabled children was identified and the outcomes of such a group were explored.

THE CHIEF NURSING OFFICER'S REVIEW OF THE NURSING, MIDWIFERY AND HEALTH VISITING CONTRIBUTION TO VULNERABLE CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

Department of Health

London: 2004

A number of gaps and omissions in services have been identified showing a need for:

  • earlier identification of vulnerability and protective factors in the antenatal period;
  • more intensive preventative healthcare for vulnerable families during the antenatal and early postnatal period;
  • better skills in identifying and supporting vulnerable children and families across the workforce;
  • more holistic services with improved continuity of care and a greater emphasis on child and adolescent mental health;
  • increased provision of accessible healthcare for school aged children;
  • better child health promotion and protection in general practice.

Care is often fragmented between health, social care and education; between hospital and the community; and between nurses, midwives and health visitors.

CHILDCARE STILL A PROBLEM

Anon

Labour Research, Vol.93, June 2004, p.11-13

Recent research shows that the government is likely to reach its target of providing a nursery place for all three-and-four-year-olds by 2004. However, childcare is still very expensive, particularly in London and the South East. Quality standards are "acceptable", but more qualified staff are needed. There are problems with childcare being available at times suitable for parents.

CHILDREN BILL

House of Lords - House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights

London: TSO, 2004. (House of Commons papers, session 2003/04; HC537) (HL paper; 161)

Report considers the Bill as introduced in the Commons on July 19th 2004. Committee declares itself satisfied with the powers proposed for the Children's Commissioner for England. However, calls for duties laid on agencies to cooperate in safeguarding children to be strengthened. Also argues that smacking should be outlawed as it is incompatible with the government's obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION

J. McHugh

Public Finance, July 2nd-8th 2004, p.26-27

The article discusses the challenges faced by local authorities in implementing the Children Bill. The Bill places new duties of co-operation on agencies involved in children's services, creates accountability by requiring each local authority to appoint a director and a Cabinet member for children's services, and provides for the creation of children's trusts so that budgets can be pooled locally. It also paves the way for all children to be given an electronic file that can be accessed by all childcare professionals to facilitate information exchange.

CLARKE PLANS 10 HOUR DAY SCHOOLS: BUT ARE THEY BETTER FOR CHILDREN OR PARENTS?

R. Smithers and S. Laville

Guardian, Sept.9th 2004, p3

The Education Secretary has announced plans for all primary schools in England the offer "wrap-around" childcare to help working parents. Parents will be able to drop off their children at 8.00am for breakfast and pick them up at 6.00pm. Homework clubs and leisure activities would be offered after school. There are concerns that the proposals will erode family life and harm children's development

(See also Times, Sept. 9th, 2004, p.13)

COUNCILS DEMAND COHERENT GUIDANCE ON INFORMATION-SHARING SYSTEMS

M. Hunter

Community Care, Sept 9th-15th 2004, p.18-19

Local authorities blame confused and contradictory guidance from central government for delays in implementing the information sharing and assessment systems designed to protect vulnerable children.

CONSULTATION ON A PROPOSED REVISION TO THE POST REGISTRATION TRAINING AND LEARNING REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTERED SOCIAL WORKERS

Scottish Social Services Council

Dundee: 2004

The consultation proposes child protection training for all registered social workers.

EARLY YEARS: PROTECTION THROUGH REGULATION

Ofsted

London: 2004 (HMI2279)

The paper reports on Ofsted's activity in taking legal action against unsatisfactory childcare providers. It points out that children looked after by registered providers are, with few exceptions, well cared for. Ofsted's "escalating tariff" approach to sanctioning childcare providers who fall short of the required standard is successful. Almost all providers put matters right without delay once they know about concerns and complaints. Ofsted has also forged good relationships with child protection agencies, with whom it shares information.

EXPRESS YOURSELF

B. Raynes

Community Care, Sept. 9th-15th 2004, p.42-43

The article argues that the structural reforms proposed in the Children Bill will not improve child protection services. Instead social workers need to be encouraged to enter into dialogue with other professionals, and to communicate more effectively with them.

FATHERS MATTER: A RESEARCH REVIEW

B. Featherstone

Children & Society, Vol.18, 2004 312-319

The review explores recent research regarding the roles fathers play in their children's lives. In particular, it considers the nature of fathers' involvement with their children, factors influencing their involvement, and fathers' influence on their children. It also considers calls for changes to welfare provision to allow both men and women to be involved in the care of their children, and highlights the need to engage fathers who are violent or abusive.

GRADUATING FROM THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM: A COMPARISON OF THE UK AND AUSTRALIAN LEAVING CARE DEBATES

P. Mendes and B. Mostehuddin

International Journal of Social Welfare, Vol.13, 2004, p.332-339

Young people leaving care have experienced poor outcomes in terms of homelessness, substance abuse, poor mental and physical health, education and employment deficits, social inclusion, involvement in crime and early parenthood. The article compares the legislative and programme responses of the UK and Australian governments to the problem.

THE HUB OF ACTION

L. Ruddy

Community Care, Sept. 9th-15th 2004, p.40-41

The article describes a pilot "information hub" holding electronic records of all children under 18 living in East Sussex. The Children's Index, as it is called, contains basic contact details for all children, information about their school, GP, and any additional specialist services working with them.

MEETING PARENTS' NEEDS FOR INFORMATION: EVIDENCE FROM THE 2001 HOME OFFICE CITIZENSHIP SURVEY

R. Creasey and S. Trikha

Home Office, 2004 (Online report; 48/04)

The survey provides information about parents' use and views of both formal and informal sources of parenting advice. Formal sources are defined as those provided by social services, health services, religious organisations and family charities. Informal sources of advice and help are defined as those provided by relatives, friends and neighbours. The survey found that fathers, Asian parents and parents with lower levels of education were less likely to be aware of formal sources of advice and support. Disabled parents, lone parents and parents with non-resident children were less likely to report being satisfied with the advice and support available. Older parents were less likely than younger parents to access and engage with formal and informal sources of advice.

MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE: POLICIES, VALUES AND THEORIES

S. Duncan and others

Children and Society, Vol.18, 2004, 254-265

The article discusses mothers' needs and feelings regarding childcare to ascertain whether the government's plans to expand child care services are viable. Mothers from different socio-economic backgrounds, from two different geographical areas of Britain, were questioned regarding childcare. Results showed that, contrary to the government's belief, most mothers do not view child care from a predominantly economic perspective. On the contrary, most mothers' assessments of appropriate child care involved complex moral and emotional decisions, attempting to balance their own and their children's needs. The majority would prefer informal care for their children provided by grandparents or friends rather than formal care, and a significant number would like to work school hours only if they were able. In light of these findings, the article concludes that the government's assumptions underlying the child care expansion policy are inadequate, and that mere expansion of services is not enough.

NATIONAL EVALUATION OF THE WRAPAROUND CARE PILOT PROJECT

T. Smith and others

Sure Start, 2004

Research looks at five pilot projects delivering extended provision "wrapped around" a core early education place to improve developmental outcomes for children and meet the needs of parents. Both parents and providers reported positive benefits for children, including curriculum continuity and consistency in Foundation Stage provision (particularly where there was collaboration between providers core early education places and extended provision), continuity of care and routine, benefits for children with special needs and smoother transition to school. Of the parents using the wraparound provision, 551 said this gave them more choice of work and/or study.

NATIONAL SERVICE FRAMEWORK FOR CHILDREN, YOUNG PEOPLE AND MATERNITY SERVICES: CORE STANDARDS

Department for Education and Skills [and] Department of Health

London: DH Publications, 2004

The NSF will ensure that all children and young people get services that are age-appropriate and accessible, and recognise their needs as different. They include:

  • treatment at home for children with complex health needs;
  • better speech and language therapy services;
  • involving children in decisions about their treatment;
  • early identification and intervention for children with mental health problems;
  • better support for mothers at high risk of developing post-natal depression;
  • systems to identify those suffering from domestic violence.

(For comment see Health Service Journal, Vol.114, Sept. 30th 2004, p.12-13)

A NEW ERA FOR UNIVERSAL CHILDCARE?

Daycare Trust

London: 2004 (Leading the vision policy papers; no.1)

Reports that the average cost of a full-time nursery place for a child under two in the UK is now £134.00 per week. The only free universal provision is a part-time early education place for three- and four-year-olds. However the 2.5 hours a day free nursery education on offer is not enough to allow parents to return to work. Research demonstrates that high quality childcare is positively related to language acquisition and brain development. Children attending high quality centres are also more considerate, happier, less shy and more friendly than others. Childcare staff remain poorly paid and poorly qualified, and the status of the profession is still low.

NSPCC "STILL WAITING" FOR CLIMBIÉ REPORT

J. Carvel

The Guardian, Sept. 2nd 2004, p.6

A national survey by the NSPCC has shown that abuse is not usually identified as contributing to a child's death unless paediatricians have firm evidence of injury or a confession by a parent. The risk of litigation by aggrieved parents has made paediatricians reluctant to identify abuse.

THE POWERS OF THE CHILDREN'S COMMISSIONER FOR WALES

Welsh Affairs Committee

London: TSO, 2004 (House of Commons papers, session 2003/04; HC538)

The report criticises the government's decision not to extend the Children's Commissioner for Wales' remit and powers to include non-devolved matters, instead granting these powers to England's Children's Commissioner. It argues that such a state of affairs undermines the work of the Children's Commissioner for Wales and it reiterates the importance of granting the Welsh Children's Commissioner powers to cover all aspects of Welsh children's lives. In the event that this advice is ignored, the report makes a number of recommendations to improve the ability of the English Commissioner to carry out duties in Wales.

REFOCUSING CHILDREN'S SERVICES TOWARDS PREVENTION: LESSONS FROM THE LITERATURE

Dartington Social Research Unit

Department for Education and Skills, 2004 (Research report; 510)

Research demonstrates the importance of building and using a local evidence base in developing a preventative strategy. An effective strategy also requires the design, implementation and evaluation of new services, and the abolition of ineffective ones. Preventative initiatives need to be adequately resourced and made part of mainstream provision to reduce the stigma attached to using them. Views of staff and users should be considered in any service realignment. Services should also guard against "net-widening" whereby children with few needs are drawn into remedial services unnecessarily.

RUNNERS AND RIDERS JOCKEY FOR POSITION

K. Leason

Community Care, July 29th- Aug 4th 2004, p.30-32

The article presents brief sketches of potential candidates for the post of Children's Commissioner for England.

SUCCESS OF CHILDCARE HITS PRIVATE NURSERIES

A. Frean

The Times, Sept. 29th 2004, p.2

Staff working at children's centres and on schemes run by the government funded Sure Start programme can earn up to £19,300 a year. Private nurseries cannot afford to offer salaries at this level, and are seeing their staff poached.

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