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

Care matters - according to children

R. Morgan

ChildRight, issue 235, p. 28-30

The government green paper Care Matters set out its proposals for improving the system of out-of-home care for children looked after by local authorities and making it more responsive to the needs of the individual child. The Office of the Children’s Rights Director for England consulted widely with children about the proposals, before and after publication of the paper. Children confirmed the direction of travel of the government proposals, but emphasised that all decisions should be made with the wishes of individual children taken into account.

Child neglect and the law: catapults, thresholds and delay

J. Dickens

Child Abuse Review, vol. 16, 2007, p. 77-92

Social workers and lawyers often portray neglect cases as the more difficult of children’s cases in which to intervene, and particularly to bring to court. There is a tendency for both professional groups to attribute the difficulties to the failings of the other, but this article argues that the key reasons are deeply rooted in the professional, legal, organisational and social policy contexts that shape the identification of, and responses to, child neglect. All of these emphasise the value of family autonomy, a preference for working in partnership with parents and freedom from coercive state intervention without compelling evidence to support it. Neglect cases raise challenging questions about the nature and level of this compelling evidence, about similarities and differences between social work and legal perspectives, and about the impact of wider organisational and policy imperatives. This paper explores these questions, drawing on data from a series of interviews with local authority social workers and lawyers.

Developments in UK early years policy and practice: can they improve outcomes for disadvantaged children?

C.A. Potter

International Journal of Early Years Education, vol.15, 2007, p. 171-180

Research shows that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are significantly at risk of delayed language development, leading to poorer academic outcomes later. There is a fundamental need to enhance the language abilities of these children in their earlier years in order to improve their educational attainment levels. This paper discusses the extent to which two new major UK policy initiatives may impact on this situation, namely the introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage, a new curricular framework for children aged 0-5, and the development of the Early Years Professional role, seen a key to the implementation of the framework. Disappointingly, the new Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum shows a significant lack of in-depth guidance on language development and how to promote it.

Does every young carer matter? What does Every Child Matters mean for young carers?

A. Fox, F. Becker and S. Becker

ChildRight, issue 235, 2007, p. 16-19

According to the 2001 Census, 175,000 children and young people in the UK provide care for sick or disabled parents or relatives. Of these, 13,000 young people provide care for more than 50 hours a week. The Every Child Matters (ECM) policy agenda and subsequent Children Act 2004 set out five outcomes that are key to wellbeing in childhood and have led to a reshaping of children’s services into Children’s Trusts, thus separating them from adult services. Young carers require support for themselves from children’s services and support for the person they are looking after from adult services. The splitting of children’s and adult services will make it more difficult to achieve the five ECM outcomes for young carers.

England’s 11 million get their say

R. Chandiramani

Young People Now, May 16th-22nd 2007, p. 9

Just over two years since its creation, the Office for the Children’s Commissioner for England is rebranding itself as “11 Million”, signifying the number of young people in the country. It has also announced its new corporate strategy, which is underpinned by two long-term goals: that young people become more highly valued by adults and that they can freely enjoy their rights under the UN Convention.

Improving children’s services networks: lessons from Family Centres

J. Tunstill, J. Aldgate and M. Hughes

London: J. Kingsley, 2007

Family Centres are designed to meet a range of day care needs for individuals, families or wider communities, and assessing their objectives, key challenges and approaches to practice is essential in order to provide effective, evidence-based services for children. The book details and evaluates research into the developing role of Family Centres in the light of current political and social trends, including the Every Child Matters legislation. It outlines the different user groups served by Family Centres, the range and combination of services provided and the contribution of these services to positive outcomes for children. The book also identifies major tasks facing Family Centres, such as optimizing access to services and managing key partnerships across social care, education and health care.

Measure by measure

S. Vevers

Community Care, May 17th 2007, p. 24-25

Government has failed to meet its interim target of reducing child poverty by a quarter by 2004/05 and there is recognition that it is unlikely to succeed in halving it by 2010 as originally planned. However, campaigners say that the 2010 target is still within reach if the government would give attaining it full political commitment and invest a further £4bn.

More fun please

H. Gregory

Young People Now, May 16th-22nd 2007, p. 14-15

Pressure from government and other funders is creating a climate in which youth activities are increasingly required to be structured and outcomes have to be recorded. Where once young people could attend youth clubs to meet friends, they now have to be seen as constructive places offering more than a place to socialise.

Sector's struggle to reach outside the mainstream

D. Ghose

Young People Now, May 9th-15th, 2007, p. 9

Evidence suggests that while the youth services are keen to engage groups such as young people with disabilities, black and minority ethnic groups, and gay youth, they are not always successful and provision is patchy.

Some fascinating facts about special guardianship orders

G.J. Posner

Family Law, vol.37, 2007, p. 423-425

There have been more Court of Appeal decisions reported and transcribed about special guardianship orders than about any other aspect of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. They are essentially a private law remedy and an alternative to adoption. Many aspects of the orders are subject to judicial interpretation and discretion, rather than being essentially procedural.

Time to increase the impact factor

S. Vevers

Community Care, May 3rd 2007, p. 22-23

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England was set up in 2005, but many professionals believe it is having little impact on children’s rights. This low profile is attributed to the fact that the English Commissioner, unlike his counterparts in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, does not have the right to take up individual cases. He also has a lower per capita budget. There is a suspicion that the Commissioner has chosen to act as a critical friend to government rather than as a watchdog with teeth.

Trailblazing for child protection

A.U. Sale

Community Care, May 10th 2007, p. 22-23

The Every Child Matters agenda places information sharing at the centre of early intervention and preventative work with children at risk. Eleven trailblazer groups covering 15 local authorities in England were funded by government to pioneer new systems for information sharing. This article looks at lessons from the experience of some of these groups and at the obstacles still to be overcome.

Twenty years of progress?

N. Valios

Community Care, Apr. 26th 2007, p. 22-23

In 1987 the Cleveland child sexual abuse scandal saw 121 children removed from their families. Most were eventually returned home with all allegations of sexual abuse dismissed. This article reviews progress in the diagnosis of sexual abuse in children over the past twenty years.

Why do Liberal Democrats oppose the Child Trust Fund?

S. White

Public Policy Research, vol. 14, 2007, p. 24-30

The Child Trust Fund endows each child with a small grant at birth. This is paid into a special savings account which is held in trust for the child until he or she reaches maturity. The aim is to ensure that each child enters adulthood with at least some capital to call their own. The Child Trust Fund was introduced by Labour, but is supported by the Conservatives. However, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to abolish it. The author argues that their opposition is not only misplaced but also contradicts their own values and historical commitments.

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