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Welfare reform on the Web (March 2007): Child welfare - Overseas

Childcare in post-Communist welfare states: the case of Bulgaria

V. Sotiropoulou and D.A. Sotiropoulos

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 36, 2007, p. 141-155

This article explores developments in child welfare services in Bulgaria since the fall of Communism through structured interviews with 15 professionals. Interviewees expressed reservations about the existence of genuine political will to reform child welfare services. Most politicians are primarily focused on promoting their personal or family interests and nepotism and corruption are rife. Moreover legislation passed in Parliament to reform child welfare is routinely not implemented. The situation is not helped by the fact that responsibility for child welfare is split among five competing Ministries with overlapping responsibilities. The authors conclude by calling on the Bulgarian government to work in partnership with native and international NGOs to advance the process of reform.

An evaluation of post-adoption services

M. K. Dhami, D.R. Mandel and K. Sothmann

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 29, 2007, p. 162-179

Social workers predict that the number of successful adoptions will rise with increases in the availability of post-adoption support services. However, the development of such services has been stunted by limited knowledge of the differential needs of adoptive families and limited published research on “what works”. This article seeks to help fill the gap by presenting the findings of an evaluation of post-adoption services in British Columbia, Canada.

Expectations relating to childcare among French and Swedish families

A.-L. Almqvist

Community, Work and Family, vol. 40, 2007, p.17-38

This paper focuses on exploring the effect of policy in the shaping of values and expectations. Interviews with parents in Umeå in Sweden and Nantes in France pointed to national differences in parental expectations of childcare that are likely grounded in differences in family policy. The strong emphasis among French parents on “upbringing” and “learning” may be related to the educational values of childcare staff, which have been embraced by the parents as well. French parents also value the early socialisation of their children through out-of-home care. These values may be linked to the existence of a strong central state and to the historic emphasis on education as a means of fostering a shared national identity. Swedish parents stressed the importance of paying attention to the individual child, reflecting Swedish social policy which is focused on individualism and independence. Swedish childcare has succeeded in combining collective care with a focus on individual autonomy and independence.

How effective are family treatment drug courts? Outcomes from a four-site national study

B. L. Green and others

Child Maltreatment, vol.12, 2007, p.43-59

Family treatment drug courts (FTDCs) are proliferating in the USA. They are designed to help families with substance abuse problems who are involved with the child welfare system. They provide regular court hearings, intensive judicial monitoring of parents, timely access to treatment, frequent drug testing and a system of rewards and sanctions linked to compliance. They seek to offer a non-adversarial judicial context in which parents receive clear messages about what they need to do to be reunited with their children. This study compares outcomes for 250 FTDC participants to those of similar parents who did not receive FDTC services. Results show that FTDC parents entered substance abuse treatment more quickly, stayed in treatment longer, and completed more treatment episodes. Furthermore, children of FTDC parents entered permanent placements more quickly and were more likely to be reunited with their parents than children on non-FDTC participants.

Is the Adoption and Safe Families Act influencing child welfare outcomes for families with substance abuse issues?

A. Rockhill, B.L. Green and C. Furrer

Child Maltreatment, vol.12, 2007, p.7-19

The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) was designed to promote more timely permanent placements for children in public care. This study looks at the impact of ASFA on parents struggling with substance abuse issues. The authors compared child welfare outcomes, pre- and post-ASFA, for children of more than 1,900 substance-abusing mothers in Oregon. After the implementation of ASFA, children in this study spent less time in foster care, were placed in permanent settings more quickly, and were more likely to be adopted than to remain in long-term foster care. The proportion of children who were returned to their parents remained the same. These outcomes suggest that ASFA was able to accelerate the permanency process for children who might otherwise have remained in foster care, while not unduly hindering the efforts of substance-abusing parents to have their children returned.

Predicting the effectiveness of the Home-Start parenting support program

J.J. Asscher and others

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 29, 2007, p. 247-263

Home visiting programmes are widely used to support at risk families and prevent dysfunctional parenting. This study examines the effects of mother’s characteristics, programme characteristics, and their interaction on parenting behaviour of participants in Home Start. Overall, participant characteristics seemed to have little effect, suggesting that Home-Start is equally effective for all. The only programme characteristic that affected changes in parenting behaviours (rejection and negative control) was intensity. However, programme characteristics influenced effectiveness in interaction with several participant characteristics in predicting changes in maternal rejection, negative control and sensitivity.

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