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

Adults rule? Children, advocacy and complaints to social services

A. Pithouse and A. Crowley

Children and Society, vol. 21, 2007, p. 201-213

This article sets out results from a Welsh Assembly commissioned study of complaints involving children and their use of advocacy services commissioned by local authorities. The research reveals the adult-dominated nature of the children’s complaints system in Wales and the limited involvement of advocacy in supporting children who make a complaint. There is a pressing need for a more child-focused approach that gives authentic voice to children and their rights.

Do the benefits justify the costs? An evaluation of the “sitter service” in Scotland

V. Wilson, S. Hall and J. Davidson

Children and Society, vol. 21, 2007, p. 214-227

Few childcare providers offer services outside the hours of 8.00am to 6.00pm on weekdays. In order to help shift workers, students and single parents, One Parent Families in Scotland has organised the “sitter service”. This offers childcare from early morning to late evening, seven days a week, in the child’s own home. This service complements that provided by childminders, children’s centres, and after-school clubs. This article presents the findings of a study of the costs and benefits of the “sitter service” organised by voluntary agencies in Scotland. Results show, that for very little expenditure, these agencies provided a service that delivered a range of individual and community benefits.

Factors affecting participation in Sure Start programmes: a qualitative investigation of parents’ views

M. Avis, D. Bulman and P. Leighton

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol. 15, 2007, p. 203-211

This study aimed to identify factors that promoted or hindered parents’ participation in Sure Start programmes. A qualitative in-depth interview was conducted with a sample of 60 parents/carers identified as either “frequent users” or “infrequent users” of Sure Start services in two inner city areas in the East Midlands. Parents stated that the main reasons they engaged with Sure Start were to overcome feelings of isolation and to gain practical benefits for themselves and their children. Reasons for not engaging with Sure Start included lack of social confidence, distrust of others, including both Sure Start staff and other parents, and fear of stigma as Sure Start services are known to be targeted on vulnerable families.

Managing unwanted behaviour in pre-school children

T. Taylor

Community Practitioner, vol. 80, Apr. 2007, p. 30-35

This paper describes an experimental behaviour group programme set up by community nursery nurses in Southall. The behaviour group offered guidance to parents in managing their children’s undesirable behaviours, in areas such as sleep problems, temper tantrums, sibling rivalry, defiant anti-social behaviour and toilet training. Families are guided through coping strategies and learn skills in changing undesirable behaviour patterns in their pre-school children. This initiative fits in with government policy directives which highlight the need for services to support parents and thereby improve outcomes for children.

Moving forward: a strategy for improving young people’s chances through youth work

Scottish Executive

Edinburgh: Scottish Executive, 2007

The Scottish youth work strategy promises:

  • A £2.5m Youth Opportunities Fund, a £5m Youth Work Facilities Improvement Fund and a £500,000 Voluntary Organisations Support Fund for national organisations
  • Appointment of a co-ordinator to facilitate joint working between youth work and schools in partnership with Learning and Teaching Scotland
  • Creation of a new standards council for community learning and development, which will develop a training framework for the sector and set up a registration system for workers
  • £500,000 in 2007/08 to help national voluntary organisations build capacity and improve training
  • Development of an action plan for volunteering

Networks, connectedness and resilience: learning from the Children’s Fund in context

M. Barnes and K. Morris (editors)

Social Policy and Society, vol.6, 2007, p. 193-241

The Children’s Fund is one of a raft of New Labour social policies promoting partnerships between statutory and voluntary organisations to address the issue of social exclusion. It was announced following the 2000 Spending Review and continues until 2008 with a total allocation during this period of £960m. This collection of articles explores how Children’s Fund projects worked to create resilience and strengthen and build up the social networks of deprived children and their families, covering work with refugees, disabled children and travellers.

New England and New Labour: retracing American templates for the Change for Children programme?

P.M. Garrett

Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, vol. 23, 2007, p. 31-47

This article explores how developments in child welfare in the USA have impacted on the reform of children’s services in the UK under the Every Child Matters agenda. Specific areas of change in the USA which appear to have had an impact in England include aspirations to make services more “business-like” and “outcomes” oriented. The emphasis on “prevention” in children’s services in England is also likely to have been influenced by policy and practice developments in the USA.

Privacy and open justice in the family courts. Part 2

K. Schilling

Family Law, vol. 37, 2007, p.326-330

This paper examines the principles of open justice and discusses the validity of assumptions underlying the recent consultation paper Confidence and Confidentiality: Improving Transparency and Privacy in the Family Courts. It focuses on whether the proposals provide adequate protection for privacy, especially that of children, covering identification of parties by a local community even when media reports had been anonymised, inaccurate reporting, and disclosure of sensitive personal information.

Rhetoric starts to become reality

C. Goddard

Young People Now, Mar. 28th-Apr. 3rd 2007, p. 9

Reports on progress in delivery of the government’s Youth Matters reform agenda covering: 1) the move of local authorities towards commissioning, rather than direct delivery, of youth services; 2) implementation of the Youth Opportunity Fund and Youth Capital Fund programmes; 3) integrated youth support; and 4) incentivising local authorities to deliver Youth Matters.

A snapshot of anti-bullying work: children and young people’s plans

P. Buddery

ChildRight, issue 234, 2007, p.26-30

The Children’s Commissioner for England chose a sample of local authority children and young people’s plans for analysis to identify general trends and broad similarities in the way that they address the issue of bullying. The analysis reveals reasons for optimism, including clear prioritisation, maturing partnerships and engagement with what children and young people actually feel and want. It suggests that the Every Child Matters agenda and children’s views have given new impetus to anti-bullying work, which isin the process of being mainstreamed. However, reducing bullying is long-term work with no quick fix. Substantial challenges remain. Most children’s trusts are still in the process of assembling reliable data with which to performance manage their strategies, and the need to intervene at primary and preschool stages has yet to be recognised.

Tackling child obesity - first steps

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons papers, session 2006/07; HC 157)

There has been a steady rise in the number of children aged 2-10 who are obese – from 9.9% in 1995 to 13.4% in 2004. The rise in obesity prevalence adds a significant financial burden to the NHS. In 2004 a Public Service Agreement (PSA) target was established, shared between the three Departments of Health, Education and Skills and Culture, Media and Sport: “to halt, by 2010, the year-on-year increase in obesity among children under 11 in the context of the broader strategy to tackle obesity in the population as a whole.” This report examines the three Departments on three main issues: progress against the PSA target, the involvement of parents and influencing organisations. It concludes that the Departments have been slow to react and that they need to increase the pace of their response and improve their leadership by appointing a senior, high profile champion in the fight against childhood obesity.

Targeted youth support

Department for Education and Skills

London: The Department, 2007

This guide outlines seven key delivery elements for the targeting of support on vulnerable young people:

  • Strengthen young people’s ability to create positive change
  • Identify vulnerable young people early
  • Build a clear picture of individual needs, shared by young people and the agencies working with them, using the Common Assessment Framework
  • Enable vulnerable young people to receive early support in universal settings
  • Ensure young people receive personalised support, advice and guidance, co-ordinated by a trusted lead professional
  • Provide support for vulnerable young people across transitions, for example leaving school
  • Make services more accessible, relevant and attractive

Teenage health services begin to come of age

D. Ghose

Young People Now, Mar. 14th-20th 2007, p. 9

The government’s adolescent health demonstration sites are designed to improve access to health services for young people through provision of drop-in advice centres, an increase in the number of school nurses, and outreach services in rural areas. This article assesses progress of pilot schemes in Hackney, Portsmouth and Northumberland.

What future for children in the family courts?

A. Paddle

ChildRight, issue 234, 2007, p. 14-17

Children involved in cases before the family courts have until now benefited when necessary from separate representation of their interests by a specialist solicitor and the Children’s Guardian. The Children’s Guardian investigates family relationships and what services the local authority has provided for the child, and probes the child’s wishes and feelings. The solicitor advises on whether parents and relevant agencies have met their legal obligations and what the law can offer to secure the best outcomes for the child. This system is now under threat from proposals to pay the specialist solicitors a fixed fee per case instead of hourly rates. At the same time CAFCASS is proposing to reduce costs of Children’s Guardian services by reducing the time available for children in public law cases, introducing unqualified practitioners to do some of the work, using duty systems and asking Guardians to carry larger case loads.

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