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

Blair admits to failings of CSA and plans role for private firms

A. Grice

Independent, November 17th 2005-11-22

Tony Blair, who reportedly admitted as long ago as 1998 that it was a mess, has again stated that the Child Support Agency is "not properly suited" to its tripartite investigation, adjudication and enforcement role. Chief executive Geraghty, who is due to publish a review in January 2006, appears to have ruled out abolition, or handing the work over to HM Revenue and Customs. Debt collection and telephone work may be contracted out to private providers.

[See also: Times, November 17th 2005, p.26; Guardian November 17th 2005, p.4; Daily Telegraph, November 17th 2005, p.14; Financial Times, November 17th 2005, p. 3]

Business benefits

S. Bashford

Young People Now, Oct.26th-Nov.1st 2005, p.14-15

Large companies are increasingly getting involved in funding youth work. Article discusses the implications of such partnerships for youth groups and young people.

Care transitions will never be easy

C. Goddard

Young People Now, Oct.26th-Nov. 1st 2005, p.9

Young people leaving care need ongoing practical and emotional support from sympathetic adults. Article discusses various ways in which this could be provided.

The changing availability of grandparents as carers and its implications for childcare policy in the UK

A. Gray

Journal of Social Policy, vol.34, 2005, p.557-577

This article addresses the role of grandparents as providers of childcare for their grandchildren, and the importance of this role in helping mothers to enter the labour market. It considers trends in the provision of childcare by grandparents and other relatives and how their role complements that of formal childcare services. There is concern that the availability of grandparents as child-carers may be declining due to increasing geographical dispersion of extended families, and, with regard to grandmothers, rising employment rates among older women. A possible conflict may arise between grandparents' important childcare role and the policy objective of raising employment rates among the over 50s.

Child welfare services for minority ethnic families: the research reviewed

J. Thoburn, A. Chand and J. Procter

London: Jessica Kingsley, 2005

The book brings together an extensive overview of recent research into the nature and outcomes of child welfare services for minority ethnic families. The authors examine the complex needs and identities of minority ethnic families and their experiences of current practice. They also consider the impact of family support, child protection and court services, placement patterns and outcomes for adopted children, and cultural issues in planning services and 'matching' social workers to families.

The Children’s Fund: six case studies

Department for Educations and Skills Nottingham: 2005

Six examples in this brochure illustrate how Children's Fund teams and projects are transforming preventative services for 5-13-year-olds.

Connexions Direct: mystery shopping evaluation study

E. Starling

Department for Education and Skills, 2005 (Research report; 693)

Connexions Direct offers confidential advice, support and information to 13-19-year-olds by telephone, live webchat, email and SMS Text. Study assessed the Connexions Direct service being offered by the provider after one year of operation. The mystery shopping programme independently assessed all aspects of the service, with all four contact methods being evaluated using a wide range of enquiries.

Developing good practice in children’s services

V. White and J. Harris (editors)

London: Jessica Kingsley, 2005

The contributors to this book describe their experiences of working with children in a broad range of settings, emphasising ways in which the current context of change can be used as an opportunity to enhance the quality of service provision and achieve better outcomes for children and their families. Examples are provided of the planning and implementation of new initiatives including:

  • Preventive education to protect children
  • Positive reinforcement of children's cultural heritage
  • Therapeutic approaches to sexually inappropriate behaviour
  • Training programmes for foster children

Disabled children who need permanence: barriers to placement

J. Cousins

Adoption and Fostering, vol.29, no.3, 2005, p.7-20

Disabled children are known to wait longer than others for a permanent new family. Paper analyses the barriers that come between them and a permanent placement based on the findings of a series of workshops run to explore this complex subject with practitioners and carers. Problems and barriers emerged in the recruitment, assessment and support of families; in the profiling and placing of children; at management level in the training and development of staff; in departmental structures; and in diminished resources.

Equality Bill: child impact assessment

Children's Legal Centre

ChildRight, issue 220, 2005, p.17-18

Presents a summary of the impact of the proposed Equality and Human Rights Commission on children, focusing on its powers to combat religious and racial discrimination and enforce human rights.

The experience of being privately fostered

E. Peart

Adoption and Fostering, vol.29, no.3, 2005, p.57-67

Article presents material gathered from a research project on the experience and motivation of those involved in private fostering, either as parents, carers or children. The focus is on the experiences of the children fostered. Of the 12 fostered adults interviewed, four had experienced physical and /or sexual abuse. Black children cared for by white families experienced racism both within the family and in the wider community. They also received no support in remaining in touch with their birth culture from their foster carers.

An Exploration of the teenage parenting experiences of black and minority ethnic young people in England

G. Higginbottom and others

University of Sheffield, School of Nursing and Midwifery, 2005

Policy needs to reflect the wide range of experiences of young people, and a range of services should be provided that takes into account the social norms of the different communities. Young parents from all the participating communities placed a high value on motherhood and children. This is especially so for young Muslim women, who regard teenage pregnancy as a cause for celebration. For this community, a focus on reduction of teenage pregnancy per se has little meaning. Young parents reported that negotiating the housing and benefits systems caused them stress, hardship and deprivation. This ultimately impacts on the health and well-being of both parents and children. Family support was crucial to a positive experience of early parenthood. It was clear that young mothers with little contact with their families experience considerable isolation. Finally, most teenage parents in the study had clear career or educational goals and did not regard early parenthood as obstructing the realisation of their aspirations.

Foster carers: why they stay and why they leave

I. Sinclair, I. Gibbs and K. Wilson

London: Jessica Kingsley, 2005

Foster carers look after two-thirds of the children cared for by the English local authorities at any one time. The recruitment and retention of these carers is one of these authorities' central concerns. The book highlights the importance of providing carer support that:

  • Is adapted to the carers' families
  • Contains the basic elements of reasonable payment, relevant training and reliable social work support
  • Responds sensitively to serious crises and treats carers as part of a team
  • Meets the specific needs of carers through services such as carers' groups and relief breaks.

Foster children: where they go and how they get on

I. Sinclair and others

London: Jessica Kingsley, 2005

The book analyses the outcomes of a large-scale study of foster children in the UK. It includes individual case studies and draws extensively on the views of foster children themselves. The authors examine: " Why children remain fostered or move to different settings " How the children fare in these different settings and why " What the children feel about what happens to them

Foster placements: why they succeed and why they fail

I. Sinclair, K. Wilson and I. Gibbs

London: Jessica Kingsley, 2005

The book describes differences between successful and less successful placements. Drawing on a study of nearly 600 foster children, it shows how the child, the carers and the 'chemistry' between them all contribute to differences in outcome. It also considers the contribution of the school, the social workers and the child's own family.

Fostering adolescents

E. Farmer, S. Moyers and J. Lipscombe

London: Jessica Kingsley, 2005

Adolescents are the hardest group to foster and have high rates of placement breakdown. The book explores key issues for this group, including peer relationships, sexual health and relationships, the impact of the adolescent on the foster family and balancing their need for safety and autonomy. The book addresses each stage of the care process, from placement selection to leaving foster care.

Get out of the Spiderman suits and start paying for your children

P. Toynbee

Guardian, November 18th, p.11

While busy single mothers are silent, "won't pay" fathers make it socially acceptable to defy Child Support Agency. Comment piece looks at warnings on backlogs that were ignored at the agency's inception, sexual inequality, work targets, and abuse of the system.

Information-sharing databases under the Children Act 2004

J. Dow

Journal of Integrated Care, vol.13, Oct.2005, p.31-34

Under the Children Act 2004, local authorities will be required to set up and maintain information sharing databases covering all children living in their area. This has provoked some controversy, particularly around the inclusion of "flags of concern", possible threats to children's privacy, and the security of the databases.

Imagine this

C. Cameron and P. Moss

Community Care, Nov.17th-23rd 2005, p.38-39

Calls for the introduction of generically trained social pedagogues into the fragmented English children's workforce. These new professionals would work across all settings, including schools, play schemes, residential care and family day care.

Lesbian and gay foster care and adoption: a brief UK history

S. Hicks

Adoption and Fostering, vol.29, no.3, 2005, p.42-56

Author presents a history of foster care and adoption by Lesbians and gay men in the UK since 1988, reviewing key research and policy and legal changes. He dismisses arguments that children fostered or adopted by Lesbians and gay men will suffer psychosocial damage or develop problematic gender or sexual identity. He also critiques the claim that children do best in heterosexual two-parent families. In spite of an increase in the numbers of gay and Lesbian carers, homophobic ideas are still present in the debate.

Local Network Fund for Children and Young People: was the money used well?

G. Craig and others

Department for Education and Skills, 2005 (Research report; 685)

The Local Network Fund (LNF) was launched by the government in 2001 to support community groups working with young people at risk. In this report the effectiveness of the LNF is discussed in the context of its organisational structure, its ability to achieve goals set and its economic effectiveness. The LNF has been broadly cost-effective and successful in meeting many of its objectives but it could be more so, particularly in reaching the more "hard-to-reach" groups and in achieving more sustainable gains with an increase and shift in the way resources are used locally.

Ministers scrap plan to end Ofsted checks on childcare for over-fives

J. Carvel

The Guardian, Nov. 2nd 2005, p.13

Ministers abandoned their attempt to end the compulsory regulation of childminders, after-school clubs and play schemes caring for children over five. This follows a revolt by parents and childminders, who feared that deregulation could open the market to rogue operators and put children at risk.

New rules may put ban on babysitters under 16

L. Smith

Times, November 11th 2005, p.8

A new report on child welfare issued by the Commission on Families and the Welfare of children recommends that:

  • Babysitters looking after younger children without an adult present should be at least 16 years of age
  • A set of rules should be drawn up including a minimum age at which children should be allowed to play outside alone
  • Smacking by parents should be outlawed
  • The age of criminal responsibility should be raised from 10 to 12

[See also Daily Telegraph, November 11th 2005, p.10; Guardian, November 11th 2005, p. 4; Independent, November 11th 2005, p.6]

Part-time fostering: recruiting and supporting carers for short-break schemes

J. Statham and M. Greenfields

Adoption and Fostering, vol.29, no.3, 2005, p.33-41

Article explores the role of part-time foster carers who provide short breaks to support children living with their own families. Findings indicate that local authorities should aim to enlarge their pool of foster carers by recruiting as support carers those not able to consider full-time fostering, such as younger people, older people and those in full time employment. The study also highlights the importance of offering a good support package to retain carers and create job satisfaction for them. Finally, results indicate the importance of strong senior management backing to protect support care schemes in times of financial stringency.

Pick ‘n’ mix hits the spot

N. Valios

Community Care, Oct.27th-Nov.2nd 2005, p.32-34

Guernsey is merging its children's social services with health rather than with education. Article looks at why this is the best solution for the island and how it has taken ideas from around the world to improve outcomes.

Processes and outputs of an adoption panel: a case study

T. O'Sullivan

Adoption and Fostering, vol.29, no.3 2005, p.21-32

Article reports on an observational study of the workings of an adoption panel that took place in 2003 in the midst of national change in terms of policy and legislation and local change in terms of panel personnel. The research investigated how representative and participative panel members were, how attendee presence was structured, what the panel focused on and how conclusions were reached. The panel considered social worker proposals in relation to looked after children being put up for adoption. A scrutiny process was observed that took the form of identifying issues, asking questions, being reassured (or not), coming to a conclusion and giving feedback.

Providers fear unfair competition on childcare

J. Boone

Financial Times, November 9th 2005, p.3

Private nursery providers fear unfair competition from local authorities if the Childcare Bill becomes law. Experts in the field also claim that targets for extra childcare places cannot be met without an increase in funding.

Removing barriers: a 'can-do' attitude

Ofsted London: 2005 (HMI 2449)

Report looks at how the private and voluntary childcare sectors cater for children with special needs. The report found that inconsistencies between local authorities and a lack of joined-up thinking is limiting access to good quality childcare for parents of children with special needs. Although good practice is emerging, it is not consistent, widespread or widely disseminated across the voluntary and private sector. The findings suggest that a positive attitude among staff is fundamental to the ability of providers to fully include children with special needs.

Silent partners

C. Cripps

Young People Now, Nov.2nd-8th 2005, p.17

The voluntary sector plays a key role in delivering services to young people, but its opinions and ideas often go unheard by local authorities and government.

A single point of contact

E. Rogers

Young People Now, Oct.19th-25th 2005, p.17

The government plans to put the role of lead professional at the heart of a new system of integrated work between agencies supporting young people. The lead professional will be a single point of contact for young people and families; support them in navigating the system; ensure that children and families get appropriate help; and reduce overlap and inconsistency in service delivery. Article discusses how youth workers could function as lead professionals.

Social work’s 'electronic turn': notes on the employment of information and communication technologies in social work with children and families

P.M. Garrett

Critical Social Policy, vol.25, 2005, p.529-553

Discusses examples of "e-practice" in social work with children and families: the planned databases carrying information on all children introduced under the Children Act 2004; the utilisation by local authorities of the "Risk of Offending Generic Solution" (RYOGENS) and the pending introduction of the Integrated Children's System (ICS). Considers the impact of ICT on both clients and the working conditions of social workers.

Training for change: encouraging children’s participation

C. Willow

ChildRight, issue 220, 2005, p.19-20

Presents a new training pack, Ready, Steady, Change, developed by the Children's Rights Alliance for England to help local authorities listen to children and put them and their rights at the centre of public services.

A Vision for youth

A. Hillier

Young People Now, Nov.2nd-8th 2005, p.14-15

Article reports the responses of a range of youth organisations to the Government's recent Youth Matters green paper. There are concerns about the proposed opportunity cards for young people; changes to information, advice and guidance have been well received; there are fears that the interests of vulnerable young people are being overlooked; and plans to empower young people to shape services are welcomed.

What now for Connexions?

P.J. White

Young People Now, Oct.19th-25th 2005, p.14-15

Under the Youth Matters green paper, it is proposed that responsibility for commissioning of information, advice and guidance services should be transferred to local councils from Connexions Partnerships. The most effective Connexions services will be allowed to continue, and will be commissioned to provide services by the local authority. Article investigates how a number of Connexions Services are planning their transition.

What’s the plan?

B. Hudson

Community Care, Nov.3rd-9th 2005, p.36-37

Under the Children Act 2004 local authorities are required to produce Children and Young People's Plans (CYPP). The purpose of these plans is to create seamless frontline services delivered by multidisciplinary teams based in extended schools and children's centres. In a CYPP, the council and partner agencies will set out a strategy for the delivery of such services. Councils are obliged to publish the plans but schools and GPs have no statutory duty to co-operate. Article looks at previous experiences of similar plans and considers the extent to which the new arrangements are likely to succeed.

Who wants a “proper” job?

K. Wilson and J. Evett

Community Care, Nov.10th-16th 2005, p.34-35

Foster carers are increasingly identifying themselves as skilled professionals rather than volunteers. However the authors argue that the professionalisation of foster care may simply be a means whereby managers can increase control over their workforce at a distance through the imposition of budgetary restrictions, performance targets, standardised work practices and bureaucratic procedures.

[Youth Matters]

Youth and Policy, no.89, 2005, p.3-74

This special issue of the journal contains a series of short articles commenting on the Youth Matters green paper.

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