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

About adoption: a children’s views report

Office of the Children’s Rights Director

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2006

This report is based on the views of more than 200 adopted children. Their views are given on: 1) how to improve the adoption process; 2) what they liked and disliked about adoption; and 3) what they need to make them feel more supported. Most want more information about their birth family and why they were adopted.

Adoption: messages from inspections of adoption agencies

Commission for Social Care Inspection

London: 2006

This report examines the performance of adoption agencies. It highlights: 1) improvements in support for children and their adoptive families; 2) problems in recruiting skilled and experienced staff; and 3) concern about the use of agency workers, as this can adversely affect the quality of service for children in the process of being adopted.

Built to last?

P. Gosling

Public Finance, Oct.13th-19th 2006, p.24-26

Considers the impact of the structural reorganisation of local authority children’s services following the Children Act 2004. Typically social services have been split into children’s services, including social care and education, and adults’ services, sometimes including adult learning, culture and sports.

Care matters: transforming the lives of children and young people in care

Department for Education and Skills

London: TSO, 2006 (Cm 6932)

This green paper on improving services for children in care proposes that:

  • Local authorities should pilot new independent “social care practices” which contract with the local authority to provide a basket of services for looked after children.
  • The budget holding lead professional model should be tried out to improve service co-ordination
  • Foster care should be professionalized through the introduction of a qualifications framework and fee structure for foster carers, backed up by a mandatory registration scheme.
  • There should be a tiered model of foster care placements structured around the needs of children, with foster carers being trained, skilled and paid according to children’s individual requirements
  • Young people should be allowed to continue to live with foster carers until they are 21.
  • The child trust fund of every young person in care should be topped up by £100.00 per year. £2,000 bursaries should be introduced for all young people in care who go on to university.
  • Social workers should be allocated £500.00 per year per child to spend on improving their educational experience
  • Ofsted should be required to carry out a regular inspection of how each local authority is meeting the educational needs of its looked after children.

(For comment see Community Care, Oct.19th-25th 2006, p.28-31)

Childhood, parenting and early intervention: a critical examination of the Sure Start national programme

K. Clarke

Critical Social Policy, vol.26, 2006, p.699-721

The Sure Start programme is a central element of New Labour’s long-term strategy to address social exclusion. By intervening in the lives of young children in areas of high deprivation, it seeks to prevent their social exclusion in adulthood, primarily by enabling them to realise their potential within the education system and to avoid outcomes that are seen as consequences of educational failure, such as juvenile crime, unemployment and teenage pregnancy. The programme exemplifies New Labour’s social investment approach to social policy. It focuses on the manipulation of the child’s immediate environment, primarily individual maternal behaviour, and on raising individual educational achievement, to avoid adverse outcomes in later life. It does not address structural inequalities.

Children at the centre? The Childcare Act 2006

A. Linsey and A.-M. McAuliffe

Children and Society, vol.20, 2006, p.404-408

The Childcare Act 2006 is the first piece of legislation of its kind in the UK, and is a significant development for the early years sector. It introduces a range of new duties for local authorities in England and Wales, including:

  • Improving the well-being of young children from birth to five years old.
  • Consultation with children on development of integrated services
  • Ensuring that sufficient childcare places are available for parents whose children need it in order to take up or remain in work or undertake training

The child’s journey through care: placement stability, care planning, and achieving permanency

D. Iwaniec (editor)

Chichester: Wiley, 2006

The book focuses on children’s journeys through the care system, from voluntary admission into care, through complicated and often long court proceedings, in pursuit of Care or Freeing Orders. Problems that arise from taking cases through the courts are examined together with tensions that may emerge between judicial and social work decision-making. The book also includes consideration of the European Convention of Human Rights (1998) and describes many of the dilemmas that arise in meeting the rights of children and parents without jeopardising the welfare of either.

Topics covered include:

  • The emotional and behavioural problems of looked after children
  • Children’s rights and their participation in decision-making
  • Ways of building new attachments and relationships with substitute carers
  • Pitfalls and successes when seeking permanency of care and emotional stability.

Complaints from children and young people: local government ombudsmen

D. Carrigan and J. Randell

ChildRight, issue 230, 2006, p.20-23

Many children and young people are consumers of local authority services, particularly those who are “looked after” by the authority or who receive services because of a variety of complex needs. Despite a growing body of legislation affecting children and young people, which makes their wishes and feelings a central consideration for a local authority, they still seem reluctant to complain. This article looks at the current system and ways in which children can be encouraged to complain and what remedies are available when a complaint is made.

The CSA: now is not the time to be squeamish

A. Moores and R. Marsden

Family Law, vol.36, 2006, p.882-884

This article summarises and comments on the proposals developed by Sir David Henshaw for the reform of the child maintenance system. Henshaw recommends that:

  • Lone parents claiming benefit should be able to keep more of the monies recovered from the absent parent
  • The new system should allow parents wishing to set up their own private arrangements for child maintenance to do so. The Child Support Agency (CSA) currently in operation has tended to intervene when it was not needed, causing bad feeling.
  • Any new agency should have tougher enforcement powers to force absent parents to pay up
  • Those wishing to use the new service should have to reapply. Cases should not be carried over from the CSA.

Delivering on child poverty: what would it take?: A report for the Department for Work and Pensions

L. Harker

London: TSO, 2006 (Cm 6951)

This report by an independent policy adviser was commissioned to provide some scrutiny and challenge to the Department for Work and Pensions’ child poverty strategy. The author argues that while the Government and the Department have made significant progress on tackling child poverty, further changes will be necessary if the goals of halving child poverty by 2010 and eradicating child poverty by 2020 are to be reached. The report provides some guidance on:

  • What it would take to reach the 2010 child poverty target and get on track for meeting the 2020 target;
  • How much more can be achieved through Welfare to Work programmes and what contribution various reforms could make;
  • The gap that needs to be met by other policies.

It concludes that reaching the child poverty targets would require substantial rise in parental employment, a significant increase in tax credit/benefit income for families or, most likely, some combination of the two.

Every child’s right to play

A. Sutton and U. Navidi

ChildRight, issue 230, 2006, p.16-19

There is increasing recognition that outdoor play improves children’s physical health, reduces obesity, and helps them develop empathy, resilience and emotional literacy. This article introduces the work of London Play, which supports and coordinates out-of-school play services for children across London.

Foster carer training: resources, training and support

K. Ogilvie, D. Kirton and J. Beecham

Adoption and Fostering, vol.30, Autumn 2006, p.6-16

This article examines key aspects of training for foster carers, using quantitative and qualitative data from a study of remuneration and performance in foster care. Three main issues are discussed: the training undertaken by foster carers and whether it is thought adequate; foster carer and supervising social worker views on NVQ level 3 training and payment for skills schemes; and how foster carers can be encouraged to attend training regularly. The study found fairly high levels of participation in training among foster carers who were generally satisfied with its quality. NVQ training was broadly welcomed but concern was expressed regarding its suitability for all foster carers and its relationship to high quality foster care. There was scope for improving attendance through attention to organisational issues such as venues, timing of courses and availability of child care.

Green paper special report

B. Broad and G. Hopkins

Community Care, Nov. 9th-15th 2006, p.38-41

This special report looks at the practice implications of some of the proposals in the Green Paper on children and young people leaving care in England. It focuses on the implications of proposals that young people should be able to veto any decisions about legally leaving care before they turn 18, and should be able to remain with foster parents until they are 21. It also gathers opinions for and against proposals for the establishment of “social care practices” modelled on GP practices in the NHS.

The hand that rocks the cradle: teenage pregnancy and government strategy

Anon.

ChildRight, issue 230, p.8-11

The UK has the highest proportion of teenage pregnancy in Europe. This article considers why and how teenage girls become pregnant and evaluates the recent government guidance to local authorities on tackling the issue. The guidance calls on local authorities to engage the full range of local services, including health, education, social services and youth support, in the attempt to reduce teenage pregnancy rates.

Hidden lives: unidentified young carers in the UK

Barnardo’s

London: 2006

This report shows that children caring for parents with addictions, mental health problems or physical disabilities are missing out on vital support. Many young carers are not identified and are left to cope alone, often for years. The research reveals a culture of secrecy that shrouds both young carers and their families.

Improving access to services for black and minority ethnic disabled children

S. Nawaz

Adoption and Fostering, vol.30, Autumn 2006, p.52-59

This article explores the practical steps that can be taken to improve the access of disabled minority ethnic children and their families to short respite breaks. It focuses on the need to: 1) recruit and retain black staff; 2) have a strong programmes of outreach to the community; and 3) recruit black respite carers for black children.

Information sharing: practitioners’ guide

H.M. Government

2006

The aim of this cross-government guidance is to improve practice by giving professionals across children’s services clearer guidelines on when and how they can share information legally. Sharing information is vital for early intervention to ensure that children with additional needs get the services they require. It is also essential to protect them from suffering harm from abuse or neglect and to prevent them from offending.

Kinship care for children in need: the inexorable growth of practice in a policy and resource vacuum

B. Broad

ChildRight, issue 230, 2006, p.24-27

The term kinship care describes a type of formal care and living arrangement for a child who has to live away from the parental home, is known to the local authority, and is cared for full time by a member of the extended family or a friend. There is positive research evidence about kinship care and its incidence is growing inexorably. This article calls for state funded and transparent post-placement service entitlements for kinship carers.

More aspiration than achievement? Children’s complaints and advocacy services in Wales

H. Payne and A. Pithouse

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol.14, 2006, p.563-571

Independent advocacy services in Wales for children who receive services from health trusts, local health boards and community health councils are few in number but growing. They are typically case-based and need to be part of a wider participation strategy that can deal with individual complaints and representations, as well as shared concerns and needs. Community health councils in Wales have traditionally been an adult-focused service, and have neither the human nor the financial capacity to offer a specialist advocacy service for children. These small resources for children’s advocacy in Wales contrast with claims made by most trusts and local health boards about their plans to develop this service in the near future. The gap between aspiration and achievement is yet to close in a context of other pressing demands on health budgets.

Message is loud and clear

R. Thiara and R. Breslin

Community Care, Nov. 2nd - 8th 2006, p.32-33

The overall prevalence of domestic violence appears to be the same in minority ethnic and majority communities. However there are differences in how women and children from minority groups respond to the violence. Many are deterred from seeking help by concern for family honour and reputation. In other cases families prevent women who complain from having contact with their children. Children fleeing from domestic violence are sometimes subjected to racial harassment and abuse in unfamiliar areas. Services for minority children are limited, indicating an urgent need to develop long-term provision.

New school ties

J. Snell

Community Care, Nov. 2nd-8th 2006, p.28-29

Presents a case study of an extended school in East London which offers an oasis of calm and order for children from chaotic backgrounds. Focuses on the difficulties which teachers continue to face in working with social services to promote child welfare.

No time to lose: a manifesto for children and young people looked after away from home

S. Elsley

Glasgow: Scottish Institute for Residential Care, 2006

Children looked after away from home have often experienced abuse, neglect and poverty. However, they can overcome substantial obstacles and fulfil their potential if they have the right support and access to opportunities. Society will reap benefits if it invests in such young people.

Openness: refocusing the debate

A. MacDonald

Family Law, vol.36, 2006, p.855-859

There is currently pressure to open up the proceedings of family courts in England to greater media scrutiny. The author argues that the current debate has excluded consideration of the interests of the children involved. Their interests need to be kept centre stage in any proposals for greater openness in the family court system.

“Participation” and working with boys and young men: the implications of a review of the policy, research and practice literature for practitioners

S. Forrest

Working with Young Men, vol.5, Sept. 2006, p.16-22

There is an increasing demand for practitioners to demonstrate that their work is participative, that is, that they have actively involved those young people who are affected by it in some or all aspects of its development, management, implementation and evaluation. However, a recent review of policy, guidance and practice literature has shown that it is very weak around the specific issues involved in working with boys and young men.

Pieces begin to fit

A. Cozens

Community Care, Oct. 12th-18th 2006, p.38-39

A survey of children’s services development and reorganisation in the light of the Children Act 2004 has shown that progress is being made with restructuring but that it will take years for users to see some of the effects. Authorities reported difficulties in consulting effectively with children under five when developing their children and young people’s plan, and with persuading users to comment regularly on service delivery. Much still needs to be done to create the best structures for partnership working, service delivery, communications and workforce development.

Planned teenage pregnancy: views and experiences of young people

L. Coleman and S. Cater

ChildRight, issue 230, p.12-15

This article presents research evidence of teenage pregnancies being deliberately planned on the basis of rational, conscious decisions. Some young women planned to become pregnant to escape from an unsettled or insecure home life and problems at school. They viewed having a child as a way of changing their lives for the better. The majority of young women reported feeling more fulfilled, having a new purpose in life, and becoming more confident as a result of their new status as mothers.

(See also Journal of youth studies, vol. 9, 2006, p.593-614)

Response to the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee report: Family Justice: the Operation of the Family Courts Revisited

Department for Constitutional Affairs

London: TSO, 2006 (Cm 6971)

The government is keen to promote the use of mediation to enable families to resolve disputes over the care and control of children in the event of relationship breakdown and avoid cases coming before family courts. It is also considering making the family courts more open by allowing the press to attend proceedings, while ensuring that the privacy of the children involved is protected through anonymised reporting.

Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education

Department for Education and Skills

Nottingham: DfES Publications, 2006

The guidance begins by outlining the responsibilities of local authorities, schools and FE colleges for the safe recruitment of teachers and gives details of relevant legislation. It covers best practice in recruitment and selection, vetting checks, and handling allegations of abuse against teachers and other staff. It aims to help local authorities, schools and colleges to protect their pupils from adults who may seek employment in educational settings with a view to harming children.

Understanding mothers’ engagement with antenatal parent education services: a critical analysis of a local Sure Start service

C. Pearson and M. Thurston

Children and Society, vol.20, 2006, p.348-359

This paper explores the issue of engaging women living in deprived areas in antenatal parent education. A new local Sure Start service was introduced in a poor area of North-West England to improve attendance at parent education classes by offering an alternative service to that offered by mainstream providers. Evidence suggests that the new service benefited women who attended and also improved levels of engagement, with 34% of eligible mothers attending prenatal sessions after the introduction of the Sure Start programme compared to the 9% who attended before. However, the service only reached a small proportion of the eligible population. The Sure Start service also had the unintended consequence of generating resistance from mainstream providers.

The wrong person for the job? Professional habitus and working cultures in Connexions

K. Artaraz

Critical Social Policy, vol.26, 2006, p.910-931

The Connexions service was introduced by the New Labour government in 2001 to provide advice and guidance to young people aged 13-19. Being based on a holistic understanding of young people’s life transitions and needs, Connexions recruited as personal advisers professionals from different backgrounds, such as careers advisers, youth and social workers and teachers. There was an initial expectation that the different groups would begin to “cohere as a single profession“. This article explores, through a Bourdieusian framework, how professionals from different backgrounds responded to their new identity as Connexions personal advisers.

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