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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2005): Child Welfare - UK

ADOPTION: THE NATURE OF POLICY SHIFTS IN ENGLAND AND WALES, 1972-2002

J. Lewis

International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, vol.18, 2004, p.235-255

Traces the course of political debates about adoption using government reports, Parliamentary debates and literature issued by pressure groups. Between 1972 and 1992 political debate focused on balancing the rights of birth and adoptive families. From 1993 to 2002 interest switched to adoption as the solution offering permanency for children languishing in care.

AGENCIES FIND SHARING IS NOT A HEADACHE

T. Donovan

Young People Now, Nov.3rd-9th 2004, p.9

Discusses how systems for agencies sharing information about young people at risk are working out in practice. Results so far are positive, and young people are apparently untroubled by loss of privacy.

THE BUCK STOPS HERE

N. Valios

Community Care, Dec.9th-15th 2004, p.36-37

Under the Children Act 2004 all councils in England and Wales must have a lead member for children's services in place by 2008. The lead member will be accountable for the delivery of education, social services, and delegated health services to children.

BUILDING BETTER CONNECTIONS: INTER-AGENCY WORK AND THE CONNEXIONS SERVICE

B. Coles, L. Britton and L. Hicks

Bristol: Policy Press, 2004

Inter-agency partnership working is one of the guiding principles behind the Connexions Strategy. Research examined the problems involved in inter-agency work. It found that:

  • staff in partner agencies were unclear about Connexions personal advisers' roles, responsibilities and authority;
  • many personal advisers were effective advocates for young people but found some partners difficult to work with due to conflicting priorities and working practices;
  • despite some progress, there was little systematic or effective information sharing between partners. Failure to share information sometimes resulted in an incomplete assessment of needs and inappropriate patterns of support.

CHILDHOOD DISADVANTAGE AND HEALTH INEQUALITIES: A FRAMEWORK FOR POLICY BASED ON LIFECOURSE RESEARCH

H. Graham and C. Power

Child, vol.30, 2004, p.671-678

Paper develops a framework which maps how childhood disadvantage takes its toll on adult health. The framework is designed as an aid for those working to develop equity oriented social and health policies. It suggests that policies need to act on the sequence of factors which compromise the life chances and health prospects of disadvantaged children: their physical, emotional and cognitive development, their health behaviour, their educational and social trajectories, their adult circumstances and adult health.

THE CHILDREN'S FUND: THE SECOND WAVE PARTNERSHIPS

Ofsted and the Audit Commission

London: 2004 (HMI 2295)

Evaluation concludes that local partnerships of statutory and voluntary bodies working together to combat social exclusion and the effects of child poverty are providing satisfactory outcomes for children. In successful partnerships the needs of children facing exclusion are met through well-planned projects that ensure effective and well-targeted support. These partnerships have identified levels of risk for children, appraised current community needs and thoroughly audited existing provision. Projects are aimed at raising attainment by combating the negative effects of factors including rural deprivation, isolation and high crime, while improving school attendance and raising the aspirations of families and children.

CHOICE FOR PARENTS, THE BEST START FOR CHILDREN: A TEN YEAR STRATEGY FOR CHILDCARE

H.M.Treasury and others

London: 2004

Sets out the government' s vision for ensuring that every child gets the best start in life and for giving parents more choice about how to balance work and family life. By 2010 all families should have easy access to integrated services through a network of Children's Centres offering information, health advice, family support, and childcare. Eventually, all three- and four-year-olds will be offered 20 hours a week of free high quality care for 38 weeks a year. As a first step, funding has been made available for 15 hours per week for free care for 38 weeks per year to teach all children by 2010. An out-of-school childcare place for children aged 3-14 between the hours of 8am and 6pm will be offered to all who want it each weekday by 2010. Strategy also includes proposals for developing and upskilling the childcare workforce and increasing the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit to help families pay for care.

A DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS OF MULTI-SECTORAL FOSTERING PRACTICE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

C. Sellick and D. Howell

British Journal of Social Work, vol.34, 2004, p.481-499

Reports results of a review of innovative fostering practice in local authorities, independent fostering organisations and voluntary organisations across the four countries of the UK. Agencies were invited to submit examples of innovative or effective practice in six main areas:

  • foster carer recruitment and training;
  • retention and job satisfaction;
  • placement provision;
  • fostering children with complex needs;
  • service provision.

Authors conclude with a discussion of four key factors which are influencing fostering practice in Britain:

  • growth of partnership working and service level agreements;
  • the impact of ICT upon placement provision;
  • near absence of independent evaluation of fostering practice;
  • the role and function of non-governmental fostering.

web linkDISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION IN FAMILY PROCEEDINGS CASES INVOLVING CHILDREN

Department for Constitutional Affairs

London: 2004

At present disclosure of any information about family proceedings involving children will almost always be prohibited without the consent of the court. As a result, families face difficulties raising concerns about their case with MPs, social workers and charities. Consultation document proposes allowing parties to discuss certain details of their cases with MPs, etc. free from the risk of being in contempt of court when so doing. The proposals do not allow publication to the media without permission of the court.

EFFECTIVE SERVICES TO SUPPORT CHILDREN IN SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

J. Statham

Child, vol.30, 2004, p.589-598

Article reviews research evidence on what makes services effective and accessible for children in special circumstances. It covers support for children at risk of offending, teenage parents, children whose parents have drug, alcohol or mental health problems, children who have witnessed domestic violence, and children who have been abused. Results show the need for multi-agency services which address the needs of the whole child, links between adults' and children's services and provision of intensive, targeted support.

EVERY CHILD MATTERS: CHANGE FOR CHILDREN

H.M. Government

2004

Document sets out a timeframe and the key elements of reform that will transform children's services. The reforms are backed by an improvement cycle to monitor measurable progress towards better outcomes and key Public Service Agreement targets, and are underpinned by inspections of children's services. Document focuses on the actions that need to be taken locally and how the government will work with and support councils and their partners.

FACILITATORS AND BARRIERS FOR CO-ORDINATED MULTI-AGENCY SERVICES

P. Sloper

Child, vol.30, 2004, p.571-580

Greater collaboration between agencies is a key policy priority. Article reports the results of a literature review carried out as part of the evidence gathering for the Children's National Service Framework in order to inform the discussion of multi-agency partnerships. Evidence suggests that multi-agency working is occurring in a number of contexts, but that models of working which deliver co-ordinated services to users via a single contact person are the least common. In general, evidence of outcomes for service users from multi-agency working is sparse. Facilitators to multi-agency working include clear aims, good communication systems, staff training and the establishment of multi-agency steering groups.

FOR A CHILD, CLICK ON SEARCH

A.U. Sale

Community Care, Dec.2nd-8th 2004, p. 30-32

Reports reaction from four experts to the idea of advertising children available for adoption on the Internet. This practice is common in America.

INVISIBLE CHILDREN? THE NEED FOR SUPPORT GROUPS FOR SIBLINGS OF DISABLED CHILDREN

A. Naylor and P. Prescott

British Journal of Special Education, vol.31, 2004, p.199-206

Research shows that a disabled child can have a profound effect on family life. Although the need for sibling support has been acknowledged in legislation, the implications for non-disabled siblings remain unclear. Article reports on an evaluation of the work of a village support group in North West England. Provides evidence of the positive effects of effect of support groups and reinforces contemporary views about children. Shows how children themselves can and should control the nature of support groups.

PARENTS WIN FIGHT FOR TAX BREAK TO PAY FOR NANNIES

A. Frean

The Times, Dec. 9th 2004, p.8

Working parents are to receive up to £240 a week to help pay for their nannies in a move that will enable thousands more parents to claim childcare subsidies. However the new tax break will not be available to parents who use relatives, such as grandparents, as carers. Government "intervention in loving family relationships" would be inappropriate, according to Margaret Hodge, the Children's Minister. To be approved for the tax break scheme, nannies and au pairs will for the first time have to provide evidence that they have a relevant qualification or have been through a recognised childcare course.

(See also The Guardian, Dec. 9th 2004, p.9)

THE PARTICIPATION OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE IN DECISIONS ABOUT UK SERVICE DEVELOPMENT

J. Cavet and P. Sloper

Child, vol.30, 2004, p.613-621

Available evidence suggests that young people's involvement in public decision-making is increasing and there is a good deal of agreement about the key components of good practice. However, there is a lack of evaluative studies, especially as regards any impact on service development arising from the involvement of young people.

POVERTY AND DESPAIR OF BRITAIN'S LOST GENERATION

I. Herbert

The Independent, 13 Dec. 2004, p.1, 4-5

Nearly three quarters of Britain's poorest children are concentrated in just four cities, trapped in urban ghettos of acute deprivation that have seen little or no improvement for a generation. Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that in the worst pockets of poverty, almost 60 per cent of families claim means-tested benefits - a figure three times the national average. The first detailed geographical analysis by council wards shows that 70 per cent of the poorest children are concentrated within the conurbations of London, Glasgow, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

STATE OF CHILDREN'S RIGHTS IN ENGLAND 2004

Children's Rights Alliance for England

2004

Reports on the government's progress in implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Key areas of concern highlighted in the report are:

  • juvenile justice;
  • the government's refusal to embrace human rights and equality for children;
  • discrimination faced by traveller children, refugee children and young Black people.

TACKLING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: PROVIDING SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN WHO HAVE WITNESSED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A. Mullender

London: Home Office, 2004 (Development and practice report; 33)

Once domestic violence has been detected and disclosed, children may need direct support to help them cope and move on. Examples of support work include counselling, play therapy, crisis work and safety planning. This can either be provided on a one-to-one basis or as part of group work. These interventions are often conducted in parallel with support work with the mother.

A THIRD WAY

H. Keville

Community Care, Dec.9th-15th 2004, p.38-39

Mediation offers an alternative to divorcing parents taking child access and custody disputes to court. It provides a private, confidential forum in which parents can negotiate with each other about residence and contact arrangements for their children. Article describes how parents can engage safely with the mediation process and the strategies used by mediators to improve communication between separated parents.

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