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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2006): Child Welfare - UK

Office of the Children’s Rights Director

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2006

At the workshop young carers highlighted the need for:

  1. Training and information on giving medication
  2. Schools to make allowances for conflicts between caring crises and coursework deadlines
  3. Social care assessments of young carers’ support needs as well as assessments of the needs of the cared for adult

2006

The underlying causes of the problems with the Child Support Agency’s current performance are deep rooted and complex. They reflect not only the operational and IT system issues which have accumulated over the 13 years of the agency’s existence, but also the complexity and instability of modern relationships. The operational improvement plan has been agreed with government ministers to improve the agency’s performance while work to redesign future policy and service delivery is undertaken. The aim is that by 2008 the agency will deliver:

  1. Compliance rates increased to 75% on the new scheme and an increasing number of cases taken to enforcement
  2. 200,000 more children benefiting from maintenance, equating to an additional £140m in maintenance collected
  3. A more efficient service, removing backlogs and doubling staff productivity
  4. Quicker and firmer action on those who default on payment

H.M. Government

Nottingham: DfES Publications, 2006

The government is committed to early action to:

  1. Ensure that all those working in services for children take account of safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare
  2. Develop new roles and opportunities at graduate level in the early years workforce
  3. Improve stability and a high quality of service delivery in social care and foster care
  4. Build an integrated qualifications framework
  5. Develop and infrastructure that will support local Change for Children programmes through the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC).

Every girl matters! Young women matter! A feminist comment

J. Batsleer

Youth and Policy, no.90, 2006, p.59-63

Paper addresses the historical and theoretical roots of the case for gender-specific youth work, and comments on the absence of any discussion of gender in the Youth Matters green paper.

Evidence based or evidence buried? How far have the implications of the national impact study of the work of Connexions with young people at risk informed the green paper?

L. Hoggarth and M. Payne

Youth and Policy, no.90, 2006, p.43-58

A major research study examining the impact of the Connexions Service on disaffected young people was published in December 2004. This article summarises some of the main findings of the research, focusing on:

  1. The importance of the development of a trusting relationship between the young person and his/her Connexions adviser
  2. The dangers of a target driven organisational culture
  3. The necessity of co-operation with mainstream institutions such as schools, hospitals and prisons

The authors go on to consider the extent to which this evidence has been heeded in the development of subsequent policy, particularly the green paper Youth Matters. They conclude that some of the most important messages from the research have been ignored due to the political imperatives of opening up youth provision to competition, supporting the formation of the new Children’s Trusts and maintaining the impetus of the government’s “respect” agenda on anti-social behaviour.

E. Chase, A. Simon and S. Jackson (editors)

Abingdon: Routledge, 2006

The book presents a radical new perspective on the care system, its strengths and shortcomings. It looks at children and young people in care in Britain and demonstrates their resilience and potential to shape their lives and seize opportunities that come their way, provided they are given the right support and encouragement. By adopting what is referred to as the ‘strengths perspective’ in social care and focusing on the more positive outcomes and experiences of young people in and leaving care, this book adds a new dimension to the current literature.

Investigation or initial assessment of child concerns? The impact of the refocusing initiative on social work practice

D. Platt

British Journal of Social Work, vol.36, 2006, p.267-281

The refocusing initiative of the late 1990s was an attempt to move local authority social work services for children in England from what appeared to be an overwhelming child protection focus towards more holistic, family support oriented responses. This article presents the results of a research study that explored social workers’ experiences of attempting to refocus practice away from investigations towards initial assessment.

M. de Jager and A.M. Houston

Community Practitioner, vol.79, 2006, p.80-83

Mainstreaming is the process of transferring good practice from an area-based initiative such as Sure Start into the core service. This paper demonstrates the process of making innovative service change and then developing and applying that change outwards to the wider mainstream. It identifies six elements critical to the success of mainstreaming: 1) involve partners early in the mainstreaming process; 2) ensure fit with national and local priorities; 3) identify a champion for the project; 4) network with other key agencies; 5) provide time, resources and support to frontline staff; and 6) collect evidence of the positive difference the new system can make.

P. Wintour

Guardian, March 9th 2006, p.16

Labour has failed to cut child poverty by a quarter within two terms in office, as was hoped. In order to meet the target of halving child poverty by 2010, a cabinet minister for social exclusion will be appointed, further measures will be taken to encourage parents on benefits to re-enter the labour market, and the system of tax credits will be maintained. The article provides some background and comments on the take-up of Tax Credits and benefits.

[See also Daily Telegraph, March 9th, 2006, p.4; Independent, March 9th2006, p.20]

Department for Education and Skills

London: the Department, 2006

The consultation sets out proposals for a national minimum allowance for foster carers, inviting comments on the proposed method for setting the level. It also sets out a framework for good practice in payment systems for foster carers. The national minimum allowance relates to the basic core allowance that foster carers receive to cover the costs involved in looking after any fostered child. The consultation does not relate to fees paid to carers, i.e. that element of payment that is intended to reward them for their time and skills.

(For comment see Community Care, March 9th-11the 2006, p.28-29)

A.U. Sale

Community Care, March 16th-22nd 2006, p.28-29

Many social workers are still in danger of either over-intervening or under-intervening when dealing with child protection issues in faith communities. Professionals need more cultural awareness training, and must learn to challenge abusive behaviour while not questioning beliefs.

Office of the Children’s Rights Director

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2006

Eighty children were randomly selected throughout 2005 from various services in different parts of the UK to take part in the consultation, either in workshops, through the post, or by mobile texting. The general consensus from the children was that they expected professionals only to pass on confidential information with the child’s permission, unless the child is too young to understand the issues, or the information has to be passed on to prevent the child or someone else being seriously harmed.

C. Maginn and S. Cameron

Community Care, March 16th-29th 2006, p.36-37

Paper argues that the poor educational attainment of looked after children may arise from the adverse effects of the social and parental rejection they have experienced. The authors suggest that a psychology-driven approach, in which care staff help the children to work through the trauma they have experienced, may lead to better outcomes.

A. Anderson

Working Brief, issue 172, 2006, p.17-18

The Norwich Union Youth Apprentice programme aimed to train young people aged 16-25 to become youth workers in their local communities. The Youth Apprentices were required to recruit and work alongside young volunteers to set up and develop local projects. These projects provided positive activities for young people with the goal of stopping them from offending.

R. Jackson

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, vol.10, 2006, p.61-73

In Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands the main requirement for people working in residential child care is a degree in social pedagogy. Social pedagogy is concerned with the development of the whole child: mind, feelings, spirit, creativity and social relationships. This article describes the first social pedagogy course to be introduced and professionally recognised in the UK.

C. Murray

Journal of Social Policy, vol.35, 2006, p.211-227

This article derives from a two-year study of “Home Supervision” conducted as part of a programme of research on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. It focuses on vulnerable children who continue to live at home with their parents or guardians under a legal order termed home supervision. The research identified various implementation deficits on the part of social services. One particular implementation gap, highlighted by this article, was non-completion of care plans by the majority of social workers in respect of a representative sample of 189 children on home supervision. Equally, not all families cooperated with social workers. Those which did engage either had something to gain, e.g. valued practical help, or much to lose, e.g. their children being removed from home.

Commission for Social Care Inspection

London: 2006

Over 26,000 children on the child protection register in England come from homes bedevilled by domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, serious mental or physical illness, or difficulties with housing, immigration or debt. Sometimes families are overwhelmed by a complex mix of problems. Too often, services focus only on the need to protect the children, rather than trying to sort out the problems which prevent adults from being “good enough” parents.

National Audit Office, Healthcare Commission, [and] Audit Commission

London: TSO, 2006 (House of Commons papers, session 2005/06; HC 801)

Obesity is a complex public health issue that is a growing threat to children’s health, as well as a current and future drain on NHS resources. Reducing child obesity was made a Public Service Agreement (PSA) target in the 2004 Treasury Spending Review. The target is jointly owned by three Government departments: the Department for Health, the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This joint report considers the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery chain to reduce child obesity in relation to the Departments’ draft delivery plan.

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