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

Amendments to regulations under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002 and the childcare disqualification regulations which apply to applications for registration made under Part XA of the Children Act 1989

Department for Education and Skills

2006

These draft regulations will mean that individuals cautioned, as well as convicted, for sex offences against children will automatically be entered on List 99 and barred from working in schools and other educational settings. The regulations aim to tighten up the current barring system until it is replaced by a new regime which will be introduced by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill, currently before Parliament.

Can the corporate state parent?

R. Bullock and others

Children and Youth Services Review, vol.28, 2006, p.1344-1358

This article discusses, from a UK perspective, how the state can parent young people in care who cannot return to their birth families and who are not suitable for adoption. It focuses on how the state can fulfil its parenting responsibilities to three vulnerable groups: children in kinship care, children in long-term foster family care and young people who are seriously disturbed and troublesome. For children in kinship care, the state needs to provide financial, practical and emotional support for the new carers, as well as educational help and therapy for the children. Long-term foster care can provide children with stable homes, but placements often break down. More needs to be done to train foster carers and to encourage them to support the young people throughout their transition to adulthood. The seriously troubled and troublesome young people can benefit from long-term institutional care and continued support into their twenties.

Children aged 0-13 at risk of social exclusion: impact of government policy in England and Wales

A. Buchanan

Children and Youth Services Review, vol.28, 2006, p.1135-1151

This article reviews the impact of New Labour government policies on poor and disadvantaged families from 1997 to 2004. It covers policies aimed at poverty alleviation, improving early years provision, raising educational attainment, and promoting health and supporting families.

Children’s rights: substance or spin?

J. Fortin

Family Law, vol.36, 2006, p.759-766

This article argues that, contrary to general perceptions, the New Labour government has not advanced a children’s rights agenda in the UK. It justifies this claim through case studies of a (lack of) practical action by CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) to implement its own written policy on children’s rights and judicial interpretations of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Children’s rights: volunteering and participating

G. Aird

ChildRight, issue 229, 2006, p.10-14

The Human Rights Act 1998 and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child advance the rights of children to be involved in the development of services that impact on them and to play a role as volunteers in their local communities. The National Youth Agency has developed tools to assist organisations in promoting the active involvement of children and young people.

Ending child poverty: the role of welfare to work policies

P. Gregg, S. Harkness and L. Macmillan

Working Brief, issue 177, 2006, p.12-15

Labour market, employment and welfare to work policies have clearly played an important role in reducing child poverty in the UK, particularly for lone parent households. The incidence of child poverty among lone parent families fell by 16% to just under 50% by 2005, and the majority of this fall was due to increased employment. Research results presented in this article suggest that changes in lone parent characteristics, lagged policy effects and current policy initiatives will lead to a further 9% increase in lone parent employment by 2010. Employment rates for lone parents could be further increased by: 1) rolling out the New Deal Plus for Lone Parents; 2) special measures to tackle the weak employment of lone parents in London; and 3) job retention measures.

Exclusion plan proposes therapy technique trials

D. Ghose

Young People Now, Sept. 20th-26th 2006, p.9

Government has outlined plans for using multi-systemic therapy (MST) to “treat” anti-social young people and work with their families. MST was first developed in the USA and involves the therapist working with the young person and their family at home. The improvements parents want to see in their children’s behaviour are set as goals for the family, to be achieved by a mix of sanction and reward.

Fathers and public services

A. Burgess

ChildRight, issue 229, 2006, p.18-22

As the concept of active fatherhood takes hold as a new social ideal, and as fathers play increasingly substantial roles in their families, while at the same time being less and less likely to remain living with their children permanently, it is becoming necessary for public services to redesign their approaches to families. While there is increasing acknowledgement of the positive roles fathers can play, stereotypes and misconceptions about men can lead to incoherent functioning by these services. This article examines why it is important for services to work with fathers and how this can benefit children and families. It also charts recent developments relating to active fatherhood in policy and practice and suggests ways in which these can be further advanced.

Focus on children and families

S. Gillen, A. Taylor and A.U. Sale

Community Care, Oct.5th-11th 2006, p.69-74

This themed section looks at progress in implementing the Every Child Matters agenda. It focuses on: 1) the government’s drive to punish parents for their children’s anti-social behaviour; 2) the current lack of engagement of schools with the reforms, due to their giving higher priority to driving p academic standards; and 3) the ways in which the system of child benefits and tax credits can penalise large families.

The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families: a basis for a therapeutic encounter?

M. Millar and B. Corby

British Journal of Social Work, vol.36, 2006, p.887-899

The Department of Health has sought to refocus social work so that child protection concerns are considered within the broader welfare needs of disadvantaged families. A tool for achieving this shift is the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families introduced in 2001. The new framework has been criticised for being overly prescriptive and for preventing social workers from forming supportive relationships with clients. However, this research shows that some families have found aspects of their assessment to be personally beneficial. This is discussed in detail, and the conclusion is reached that using the framework can be therapeutic.

Housing benefits sanction for anti-social behaviour: the response of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner

C. Fox

ChildRight, issue 229, 2006, p.23-27

The Department for Work and Pensions is proposing to withdraw the housing benefit of tenants who are evicted for antisocial behaviour and who fail to comply with prescribed rehabilitation. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner is concerned about the threat that this punitive approach poses to the wellbeing of children in such households. Potential negative outcomes include homelessness, ill-health, social exclusion and poor educational attainment. The OCC is not satisfied that proposed safeguards are adequate to mitigate the risk of harm to children through the withdrawal of benefits.

Opening up the family courts: a personal view

Lord Justice Wall

Family Law, vol.36, 2006, p.747-753

This article considers the question of public access to, and reporting of, family court proceedings currently held in private. Wall argues in favour of giving the media access to family court proceedings provided that there are clear ground rules about what can and cannot be reported. In practice this means the extent to which they are to be at liberty, when reporting proceedings, to identify the children concerned.

Parenting support: guidance for local authorities in England

Department for Education and Skills

2006

This document begins with a summary of what we know about the impact of parenting on outcomes for children and an overview of the policy context. It makes the case for a strategic approach to designing and delivering parenting support services and explores the concept of a continuum of support. This would begin with early intervention services and end with the use of enforcement measures.

Rurality and social inclusion: a case of preschool education

M. Shucksmith, J. Shucksmith and J. Watt

Social Policy and Administration, vol.40, 2006, p.678-691

In 1997 the New Labour government pledged to provide a good quality place in pre-school education for all 3- and 4-year-olds in Scotland by 2002 where parents wanted it. The stated rationale for this policy was that intervention in the preschool years is the most effective means of addressing the reproduction of social exclusion across generations. This article explores how problems arose with the delivery of this promise in rural areas of Scotland due to: 1) the higher per capita costs of provision in remote areas; 2) costs and availability of transport; and 3) difficulties experienced by parents in accessing preschool education for their children while remaining in paid work.

A slice of the pie

A. Hillier and others
Young People Now, Sept. 27th-Oct. 3rd 2006, p.14-15

Government will be setting out its forthcoming funding priorities in a Comprehensive Spending Review in July 2007. Key players in youth work explain what the sector is doing to stake its claim for more investment.

Temporal discrimination and parents with learning difficulties in the child protection system

T. Booth, D. McConnell and W. Booth

British Journal of Social Work, vol.36, 2006, p.997-1015

This article draws on interviews with practitioners undertaken as part of a larger study of parents with learning difficulties in the child protection process and the courts. Thematic analysis of the interview data underlined the importance of time as a salient feature shaping the outcomes of child protection decisions for parents and children in a way that threatened their family integrity. The emphasis on avoiding delay in reaching a decision means that parents with learning difficulties are required to adhere to timescales made more onerous for them by the nature of their disability. Deadlines and time limits that assume that they have the same powers of understanding and the same capacity for learning as other parents create additional barriers to justice.

Valuing children: the role of the state and the family

C. Shelley

Family Law, vol.36, 2006, p.792-795

In law, relatives who care for children subject to full or interim care orders should receive the same relatively generous rate as stranger foster carers. The author contrasts their position with that of natural parents dependent on social security benefits. It is argued that these are too meagre to allow non-working parents to meet the material needs of their children.

What it says on the jar

S. Flynn

Public Finance, Sept.8th-14th 2006, p.20-22

The inspection of children’s services was reshaped and broadened in September 2005 with the formal introduction of Joint Area Reviews (JARs), which are designed to replace previous separate inspections of local authority education and social services’ departments. Each JAR examines 12 areas: the five outcomes of the government’s Every Child Matters reform programme; service management; capacity to improve: jointly among the partners; capacity to improve: council only; children’s services; education services; social care services; the health service.

Young carers

A. Fox

Community Practitioner, vol.79, 2006, p.313-314

Young carers are children who look after someone in their family with an illness, disability or mental health problem. There are an estimated 175,000 young carers in the UK. They often assume this role because of the failure of statutory services to supply their parent or relative with adequate support. This article calls on adult and children’s services to work more effectively together to meet the needs of young carers and their families.

Youth policy takes a new direction

T. Lloyd

Young People Now, Oct. 4th-10th 2006, p.8-9

Reports discussion at the Labour Party conference of the governments drive broaden the youth service agenda to:

  • Target the most disadvantaged and disengaged young people
  • Equip young people with the “soft skills” they need for a successful transition to adulthood
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