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Welfare reform on the Web (October 2006): Child welfare - UK

An asset account for looked after children: a proposal to improve educational outcomes for children in care

D. Maxwell, S. Sodha and K. Stanley

London: Institute for Public Policy Research, 2006

Children in care should be given cash accounts so that they do not miss out on after-school clubs, leisure activities and treats. For local authorities to open accounts and provide deposits of £20.00 a month would cost the average council tax payer £1.32 per year. Money withdrawn from the accounts would be signed off by a gatekeeper care worker to prevent its use for purchase of drink or drugs. The rest would accumulate interest and serve as a nest egg for adult life.

Child Support Agency: implementation of the Child Support Reforms

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2006 (House of Commons papers, session 2005/06; HC 1174)

The system of child support by non-resident parents was last reformed in 2003 when new rules were introduced. These were accompanied by a simplified calculation for maintenance and supported by a new IT system and a substantial business restructuring. However, the reforms have not been implemented effectively, with the result that the Child Support Agency has continued to under-perform against its targets and large numbers of the its customers have failed to benefit from the new arrangements. This report provides an independent assessment of:

  • Why the problems implementing the child support system reforms arose
  • The impact on the quality of service provided to customers;
  • The actions taken by the Agency in response to the problems and the lessons learnt.

Connexions transitions

E. Rogers

Young People Now, Aug.30th-Sept. 5th 2006, p.14-15

Responsibility for delivering information, advice and guidance services to young people will pass from specialist Connexions Partnerships to local authorities in April 2008. This article looks at how some Connexions Partnerships are beginning the process of integration. There is concern that local authorities may sacrifice Connexions expertise for the sake of cost savings.

A corporate responsibility

A.U. Sale

Community Care, Sept.21st-27th 2006, p.32-33

In 2004/05 only 6% of care leavers in England achieved at least five GCSEs at grades A*-C. Low educational attainment among care leavers has a number of causes, including low expectations of professionals, chaotic lifestyles prior to entering care, and lack of support from named social workers.

A fighting chance

D. Cowan

Community Care, Sept. 7th-13th 2006, p.34-35

The Positive Futures social inclusion programme is aimed at disadvantaged young people living in the most deprived neighbourhoods in England. Interventions are targeted on the 50 most vulnerable young people in each area. Positive Futures is committed to working in partnership with local agencies to sustain innovative projects aimed at positively influencing young people’s offending behaviour. One such scheme in a deprived area of London seeks to give young people a sense of purpose through training in boxing.

Handle with care: an investigation into the care system

H. Sergeant

Centre for Policy Studies, 2006

About 6,000 young people emerge from the care system every year. Within two years of leaving, 3,000 will be unemployed, 2,100 will be single mothers or pregnant and 1,200 will be homeless. Some 4,500 of them will attain no educational qualifications and just 60 enter higher education. The author identifies failure at each stage of the care system. In foster care, children are moved from place to place far too frequently. Care homes focus on short-term containment of troubled youngsters rather than on long-term success. Finally, young people leaving care still receive too little support.

Invisible budgets

P.J. White

Young People Now, Sept.6th-12th 2006, p.14-15

The government has decided to stop publishing figures showing how much central funding has been allocated to youth work. Instead, it merely says that it is spending £1.6bn per year on youth support. This covers the youth service, Connexions, teenage pregnancy and other services. The youth service spend per head figures that formed part of local authority Best Value Performance Indicators have also been scrapped. The government argues that the growth of service integration, joint working and pooled budgets will make it increasingly difficult to distinguish youth work from other aspects of the youth offer.

Lead body seeks to boost sector

E. Rogers

Young People Now, Sept. 6th-12th 2006, p.9

Lifelong Learning UK is developing three options for regulation of the youth work profession. The consultation options are: 1) establishment of a registration system for youth workers; 2) enabling youth workers to join a new professional body; and 3) introduction of a licence to practice. This article presents comments from a range of stakeholders.

Legacy of separation

A. Douglas

Community Care, Sept. 7th-13th 2006, p.36-37

Argues that children affected by parental separation or divorce should be recognised as being “in need” and that local authority children’s departments and children’s trusts should commission services for them as a group. A traumatic separation can adversely affect children’s school performance and mental health.

The lives of foster carers: private sacrifices, public restrictions

L. Nutt

London: Routledge, 2006

The book offers a new perspective on foster care by focusing on the carer, not the child or the social worker. It explores the contradictions, conflicts and ambiguities faced by foster carers every day and looks at how public bureaucracy and private family life intertwine. The issues it discusses include:

  • A history of the foster care service
  • Professionalisation of foster care and the shift away from foster parenting
  • Private and public domains in foster care
  • Motivations and roles of foster carers
  • How foster carers perceive themselves and their foster children

The notifiable occupations scheme

T. Thomas

ChildRight, issue 228, 2006, p.26-27

On April 1st 2006 the Home Office issued revised guidance to the police on the notifiable occupations scheme. This is a scheme whereby the police notify regulatory bodies and employers if certain practitioners or professionals are arrested or convicted or otherwise come to their attention. Most childcare practitioners and professionals fall under the scheme.

Refocusing children’s services towards prevention: lessons from the literature

N. Axford and M. Little

Children and Society, vol.20, 2006, p.299-312

Increasingly, western countries are committed to using universal and targeted provision to improve prevention and early intervention strategies for addressing risks in all areas of children’s lives. Service refocusing is essential for meeting these objectives. This involves achieving a better balance between early intervention aimed at averting problems and treatment intended to deal with serious difficulties once they have emerged. This literature review describes five strategies for service refocusing in an English context: developing and using local evidence; designing, implementing and evaluating new services; fiscal control; mainstreaming reforms to ensure sustainability; and structural reorganisation. Five benefits of such reforms are outlined: improved outcomes; better inter-agency working; greater efficiency; improved practice and outputs; and enhanced user and staff satisfaction.

Running away: a study of young people’s experiences

R. Morgan

ChildRight, issue 228, 2006, p.12-14

Reports on the views and concerns of young people who abscond from care settings such as children’s homes or foster care placements. The research aimed to find out from those who had had run away, but who had returned or been found, their reasons for absconding, what they did while they were missing, the dangers they faced, and what they thought should happen when they returned.

University for all

A. Hillier

Young People Now, Aug.30th -Sept 5th 2006, p.17

Brief article looks at how Ealing Council has successfully encouraged care leavers to enter higher education through provision of financial and learning support.

(See also Community Care, Sept. 21st-27th 2006, p.28-30)

What works in strategic partnerships for children: a research review

J. Percy-Smith

Children and Society, vol.20, 2006, p.313-323

There is a developing body of research and other evidence and practice-informed literature on what works in relation to developing effective partnerships. This study summarises research findings from a number of sectors relating to the development, delivery and review of effective partnerships. Although there is widespread consensus within the research on factors contributing to effective partnership working, there is currently little evidence that partnerships lead to positive outcomes for children and young people.

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