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Welfare reform on the Web (April 2007): Child welfare - UK

Assessing the support needs of adopted children and their families: building secure new lives

L. Bingley Miller and A. Bentovim

Abingdon: Routledge, 2007

The book looks at how effective support can help adoptive families respond to children's developmental needs, deal with stress and prevent placement breakdowns. Written in consultation with a range of experts, clinicians and practitioners, the book gives guidance on making evidence-based assessments and planning successful adoption support. Key features include:

  • Discussion of the main themes of adoption and pointers for practice in relation to the Assessment Framework
  • A guide to the use of evidence-based approaches to assessment, including the tools commissioned by the Department of Health and the Department for Education and skills
  • A model for analysis and planning, and planning support and interventions
  • Investigation of the source, range and value of support services and interventions that can promote the wellbeing of adopted children, their adoptive families and birth relatives.

'Blame the UK's culture of care'

B. Jordan

Community Care, Mar. 1st - 7th 2007, p. 30

The author attributes the UK's poor showing in the Unicef index of child well-being to a culture in social services which seeks to instil self-reliance and individual enterprise in young people rather than a sense of belonging to a community.

Building on the best: overview of local authority youth services 2005/06

Ofsted

2007

Of the 33 youth services inspected by Ofsted in 2005/06, less than half were judged to be good or better. A further 11 were judged to be adequate while the remaining seven are described as inadequate. The situation has improved since 2004/05, when only six of 31 services inspected were judged to be good or outstanding. However youth services are being held back by insufficient funding, lack of leadership locally and nationally, and failure to include them within emerging children's services structures.

Children, young people and social inclusion: participation for what?

E. Kay, M. Tisdall and others (editors)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2006

The book asks how far and in what way social inclusion policies are meeting the needs and rights of children and young people. It reveals that while there have been advances in enabling children and young people to have a voice in society, much needs to be done to address issues of poverty and the uneven distribution of resources and services. The book:

  • Critically examines the concepts of participation and social inclusion and their links with children
  • Considers the geography of social inclusion and exclusion
  • Explores children's and young people's own conceptualisations of social inclusion and exclusion
  • Examines how these concepts have been expressed in policy at various levels

The book concludes with an agenda for progressing participation and social inclusion, both for and with children and young people.

Delivering Sure Start in rural communities

J. Willan

Early Years, vol. 27, 2007, p. 19-31

Sure Start programmes in the UK are targeted on vulnerable groups at risk of social exclusion, such as lone parents. Discussion with three rural Mini Sure Start project leaders in Devon suggests that such groups may be resistant to being singled out, resent the proffered support and avoid the interventions altogether. There is also concern about the adverse effects on very young children aged 0-3 years of being left in institutional care offered by Sure Start centres for long periods while their parents undertake paid work. Finally, well-funded Sure Start children's centres may undermine alternative local provision such as community playgroups run by volunteers.

Independence day

M. Willis

Community Care, Mar. 8th-14th 2007, p. 34-35

Experienced self-employed children and family social workers are now widely used as consultants by both local authorities and the courts. Independent social workers now have a professional association which advocates on their behalf and which has established a code of ethics for independent practice. It is expected that the role of the independent social worker will become more significant over the next 20 years.

Interrogating the concentration on the UNCRC instead of the ECHR in the development of children's rights in England?

C.M. Lyon

Children and Society, vol.21, 2007, p. 147-153

This review seeks to question the marked concentration in the work of both government and non-governmental agencies on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is not part of the law of England, as contrasted with the relative absence of reference to the European Convention on Human Rights, which has been a part of English law since the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force on October 2nd 2000.

Joined-up services for young children and their families: papering over the cracks or re-constructing the foundations?

J. Warin

Children and Society, vol.21, 2007, p.87-97

Since the late 1990s the Labour government of the UK has promoted the idea of integrated multi-agency services for children and their families, bringing together practitioners in health, education, social services, law and youth work. Specifically, government has attempted to integrate poverty reduction through parental employment with improvement of the socioemotional well-being of children through the provision of high quality childcare. Unfortunately, there are conflicts between goals that are essentially aimed at improving the lives of children and goals based on support for their parents, including employment opportunities. This article explores competing goals for children and families by examining data from the evaluation of three early excellence centres in the North of England piloted by the Department for Education and Employment from 1999 to 2002.

Now we can talk

L. Blows and others

Community Care, Mar. 15th-21st 2007, p. 30-31

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 requires local authorities to offer independent support to birth families from the point at which adoption is considered for their child. This article introduces the work of a birth family support service delivered by an independent agency under contract to Somerset County Council. The service aims to enable birth relatives to gain information about adoption and contribute to adoption planning for their child. It also aims to meet their support, counselling and advice needs, and to support them after the adoption, particularly with contact arrangements.

Outcomes of youth card's collapse

E. Rogers

Young People Now, Mar. 7th -13th 2007, p. 9

Reports that the government has decided to shelve the youth opportunity card scheme due to technological difficulties. The youth opportunity card was intended to encourage disaffected 13-to-19-year-olds to engage in constructive activities by giving them money to spend and discounts.

Paid, professionalized and proceduralised: can legal and policy frameworks for child advocacy give voice to children and young people?

J. Boylan and S. Braye

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, vol. 28, 2006, p. 233-249

There is a growing emphasis in law and policy in England and Wales on the role of advocates in the lives of children who receive welfare services. Following an initial overview of recent developments, this article uses findings from empirical research to examine the nature and direction of current advocacy practice. It outlines some potential limitations to professional advocacy, including possible rationing of the service and a tendency towards brief, reactive involvement.

Prioritising child health: practice and principles

S. Roulstone (editor)

Abingdon: Routledge, 2007

Focusing on child health contexts, the book opens up a debate on prioritisation by individual practitioners and service managers and explores the issues surrounding their decisions. Key aims of the book are:

  • To illustrate prioritisation in practice at different stages in the process of client management
  • To review the process of prioritisation from the viewpoint of a range of disciplines
  • To develop a new understanding of the process of prioritisation; and
  • To identify principles of good practice for the child health practitioner.>

Privacy and open justice in the family courts. Part 1

K. Schilling and M. Fisher

Family Law, Vol.37, 2007, p. 247-251

In the light of the 2006 consultation paper 'Confidence and confidentiality: improving transparency and privacy in the family courts', this article considers:

  • the extent of privacy protection now available under English law and its interaction with other rights
  • the current rules on attendance in the family courts
  • the current restrictions on publication in family proceedings
  • the reform proposals made in the consultation paper

Promoting resilience and protective factors in the Children's Fund: supporting children's and young people's pathways towards social inclusion

R. Evans and K. Pinnock

Journal of Children and Poverty, vol.13, 2007, p. 21-36

This article is based on findings from qualitative interviews with children and parents or caregivers who accessed Children's Fund services in England. Drawing on the notion of a child's trajectory, the paper discusses how Children's Fund services are supporting children's pathways towards social inclusion. While many services help to build resilience for individual children, the authors consider the extent to which these services promote resilience within the domains of the family, school and community and so attempt to tackle the complex, multidimensional aspects of social exclusion affecting children and families.

The Public worry more about Spanish donkeys than child poverty

P. Toynbee

The Guardian, Mar.30th 2007, p.35

Polly Toynbee is shocked that child poverty levels are up to the level of when they were first recorded in 1961. A shocking fact that Toynbee believes, is being ignored by the public, consequently leaving the government with no incentive to make the problem a priority. Currently the government helps the poorest with tax credits. However, Toynbee quotes the Institute for Fiscal Studies claim that it would cost another 4bn in tax credits to hit the Labour's 2010 target to halve child poverty. Despite Labour's achievements tax credits are not enough. The minimum wage must be raised as most of the poor are in work. 'If wages were higher, the taxpayer could spend less on tax credits.' In addition, Toynbee suggests that he richest in the country should pay an 'opportunity' tax to fund local initiatives to help deprived children. Most importantly, the public should put pressure on the government to make the eradication of child poverty its number one priority.

Rock bottom

S. Vevers

Community Care, Mar. 1st-7th 2007, p. 28-29

A recent Unicef report ranked the UK bottom of the league of 21 industrialised countries with respect to the well-being of children. However, many of the figures on which the report is based are six years old and do not take into account major investment in health and education during Labour's second and third terms in office.

Social work, law, money and trust: paying for lawyers in child protection work

J. Dickens

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, vol. 28, 2006, p. 283-295

The relationship between local authority child care social workers and the lawyers who advise and represent them in court proceedings about children epitomises a number of key themes for contemporary child welfare services in England. In particular it reflects the high profile but contested place of law in social work with children and families; it provides a case study of the challenges and rewards of inter-professional working; and it exposes the perverse effects on inter-professional co-operation of resource constraints and tight inter-departmental funding arrangements. This article draws on a series of interviews with social work and legal staff from six local authorities in England, analysing the language that the different groups use to describe their own attitudes, and the attitudes of others, to financial matters. It demonstrates the tensions and struggles for control between the social work and legal sides and the way in which funding arrangements such as contracts and service level agreements can magnify underlying differences.

Special guardianship: imaginative use?

G. Eddon

Family Law, vol.37, 2007, p.169-170

Special guardianship confers parental responsibility for a child on the special guardian. Unlike a residence order, a special guardian is not obliged to share parental responsibility with the parents. Special guardianship is seen as a desirable outcome of care proceedings where the child wishes to live with a member of the extended family. The special guardian has parental responsibility for the child and is able to protect him/her from interference by the parents.

The Welsh way

D. Hayes

Community Care, Mar. 8th -14th 2007, p. 30-31

Wales has adopted a radically different approach to implementing the Children Act 2004 to that followed in England. Instead of splitting adults' and children's social services and merging the latter with education, Wales will appoint children's services co-ordinators to oversee joint working between existing departments and the implementation of integrated children's plans by 2008.

When the search ends

T. Philpot

Community Care, Mar.15th-21st 2007, p. 28-29

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 (implemented 2005) gave birth relatives the right to an intermediary service to facilitate a search for adopted children. This article explores its effects through two illustrative case studies.

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