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

Are we there yet?

A.U. Sale

Community Care, Oct.13th-19th 2005, p.32-33

An evaluation study has highlighted the difficulties several councils are having in setting up children's trusts. One difficulty relates to how practitioners deal with information-sharing on cases. Social care professionals sometimes felt that their colleagues in health were holding information back, which led to mistrust between the different disciplines. Children's trusts were also struggling to meet the needs of families with disabled children and children with complex needs.

Caring for our children: foster care in Scotland

Fostering Network 2005

This is the most comprehensive review of foster care in Scotland ever to be published. Based on a survey of foster carers and fostering providers, it describes a fostering service struggling to cope with the demands placed on it. Key findings include:

  • Over a quarter of all foster carers look after four or more fostered children at any one time (elsewhere in the UK the limit is three)
  • Three out of five foster carers receive no fee for fostering.
  • Almost half of all carers are dissatisfied with the allowances they receive, and do not feel these cover the cost of looking after a fostered child.
  • The educational profile of foster carers is low, and and there is limited access to accredited training.

Child poverty in Scotland

R. Tennant

Working Brief, issue 168, 2005, p.14-16

An analysis of the latest Households Below Average Income (HBAI) figures shows that in Scotland child poverty has fallen by 29% between 1996/97 and 2003/04. This appears to be due more women with children (both lone parents and those with partners) having gained part-time employment and more men working overtime.

Childcare choice under threat

A. Frean

The Times, October 17th 2005, p.28

An oversupply of places in government-funded nurseries and daycare centres could force many private childcare providers to close, research suggests. Although there is a national shortage of childcare places, with just one spot for every four children under 8, children's day nurseries are only three quarters full on average - the lowest for five years.

Children in public care: overview


Document looks at recent government initiatives to counter the problem of children in public care having had poor experiences of schooling and low levels of educational attainment.


Children’s hour

P. Hetherington

Public Finance, Oct.14th-20th 2005, p.22-25

Following the Laming report into the death of Victoria Climbié, government has legislated for a complete reorganisation of children's services. Under the new system, councils are required to integrate education, youth services and children's social services. They must also work in partnership with the NHS for the delivery of children's health services through children's trusts. It is however unclear at present what will happen to adult social services. There is much confusion and distrust among social care staff, who fear being swallowed up by the NHS. There is also uncertainty around the splitting of previously unified social services budgets between new children's and adult services departments.

Does respect extend to the young?

T. Lloyd

Young People Now, Oct.5th-11th 2005, p.9

The Labour government's drive to cut crime and antisocial behaviour has been increasingly packaged with the policy idea of "respect" which has emerged since the general election in May 2005. Article outlines what respect means to both ministers and young people.

The end of separate inspections

E. Rogers

Young People Now, Oct.12th-18th 2005, p.8

Article describes the experience of two English local authorities involved in piloting the new system of Joint Area Reviews of education, youth and children's services by Ofsted. From September 2005, the new Reviews replaced separate inspections of council education and children's social care services.

Faith matters

D. Ghose

Young People Now, Oct.12th-18th 2005, p.17

Christian youth work was ignored by the recent government green paper "Youth Matters". In this article, representatives of three faith groups comment.

Forty years of evidence

N. Axford

Community Care, Oct.20th-26th 2005, p.40-41

A review of developments in children's services over the past 40 years has shown: 1) the need to develop experimental and innovative services that meet children's needs; 2) the requirement to develop evidence-based services for groups that are poorly served because they are routinely overlooked or because they fall into gaps between administrative divisions; 3) the need to improve the links between research, policy and practice; 4) the challenge of developing the right balance between central and local control over service delivery; and 5) the benefits of reflecting on the values underpinning children's services.

Foster children on fostering

R. Morgan

ChildRight, no.219, 2005, p.17-18

Presents a summary of the findings of a recent national survey of the views of foster children about their experience of being fostered, alongside those of their foster carers and birth parents.

Making every child matter: messages from inspections of children’s social services

Commission for Social Care Inspection

London: 2005

Through improved assessments, the circumstances of children and families known to social services are better understood. This ensures that care can be better planned to meet their needs. The report also indicates that looked after children comment favourably on their experience of children's social services. They receive more help to improve their health and education and to access training and employment. Parents highly value support from family centres or help in their own homes. However, many families do not receive services until their situation becomes very serious. Progress has also been adversely affected by shortages of experienced social workers and difficulties in recruiting foster carers. The latter means that councils cannot always provide appropriate placements for all looked after children. Placement choices are especially limited for minority ethnic children and teenagers. For many councils, budget increases have funded escalating costs of staff, fostering and residential care. Despite this, children's social services commissioning arrangements remain under-developed.

Partners for Protection: a future direction for child protection?

S. Hill

Child Abuse Review, vol.14, 2005, p.347-364

Paper describes a recently developed initiative involving group work with mothers whose children were at risk of, or who had experienced, sexual abuse. Many women involved in the pilot felt patronised and blamed by child protection professionals. This led to burning resentment and anger which threatened to derail the child protection process. When treated with respect and listened to objectively within the group, many women were able to make positive changes, despite some having been written off previously by child protection professionals.

Pilot trial of an age-paced parenting newsletter

B. Keane and others

Community Practitioner, vol.78, 2005, p.363-365

An American educational intervention, in the style of a monthly newsletter, was adapted for use in the UK for parents of young children. Topics were presented in an easy-to-read format and focused on infant emotional development, parent interaction and play. Newsletters were posted at monthly intervals to the family home, providing age-specific information which could meet the needs of parents at that stage of their child's life. Study aimed to determine the applicability of the newsletter to UK parents and evaluate their satisfaction. Sixty home-based interviews were conducted and 95% of the mothers reported reading all or part of the newsletter. Changes in parenting style were spontaneously reported by 28% of mothers.

Sex advice for teenagers must stay confidential

L. Ward

The Guardian, October 19th 2005, p.16

Government moves which could see health professionals compelled to report all sexual activity among underage teenagers to social workers and police risk a "massive increase" in teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, ministers are warned today. The sexual health charity Brook says taking away the right to confidential sexual health advice would be "disastrous" for many teenagers, who, it argues, will simply avoid asking for contraception if they think their inquiry will be passed on.

(See also The Times, October 19th 2005, p.5)

The stakes are high: the impact of parental substance misuse on children

S. Gorin

ChildRight, no.219, 2005, p.14-18

Many children in the UK live with parents with substance abuse problems. These children endure chaotic lifestyles, are often witnesses to domestic violence, and frequently underachieve at school. Specific support services for these children do exist, but the coverage is sparse and access is complex. Children are also prevented from accessing services by family secrecy about the issue and by lack of professional knowledge and confidence among children's social workers in dealing with families with substance misuse problems.

Toolkit for assessing the readiness of local safeguarding children boards: origins, ingredients and applications

T. Morrison and D. Lewis

Child Abuse Review, vol.14, 2005, p.297-316

Paper describes the origins, ingredients and applications of a Toolkit to assist the transition from Area Child Protection Committees (ACPCS) to Local Safeguarding Children Boards. A key influence on the design of the Toolkit was findings from a survey of 204 ACPC members which extended previous research into the functioning of ACPCs. This survey identified problematic aspects of inter-agency collaboration that will need addressing if the new boards are to succeed where the previous committees failed. These include: the board's strategic relationship to other children's planning fora; operational definition of the term "safeguarding"; collective accountability; level of membership; performance management capacity; and service user consultation.

Training teachers to safeguard children: developing a consistent approach

M. Baginsky and P. Macpherson

Child Abuse Review, vol.14, 2005, p.317-330

Describes the development and evaluation of course materials on child protection for student teachers by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Which Youth Matters? Comments on the government green paper

Children's Legal Centre

ChildRight, no.219, 2005, p.3-5

Article examines three main proposals in the Green Paper and how they will impact on difficult to reach and disadvantaged young people. These proposals are: 1) opportunity cards and opportunity funds; 2) the aim of encouraging volunteering by young people; and 3) the changes proposed to the provision of the advice services, particularly Connexions. In particular it examines an apparent paradox presented in the Green Paper. There is acknowledgement of the need to introduce preventative measures to tackle unacceptable behaviour, but the paper recommends that those exhibiting poor behaviour should be excluded from the new opportunities provided to address such behaviour.

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