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Welfare Reform on the Web (September 2007): Child welfare - UK

Aiming high for young people: a ten year strategy for positive activities

HM Treasury

London: 2007

This long term strategy for the development of youth services is built around three themes: quality, empowerment and access. Developing the youth workforce and building links between services will be key to ensuring quality. Young people will be empowered by giving them more influence over services provided for them. On access, the strategy says that young people should be able use high-quality services in their leisure time. Plans include using unclaimed assets and an additional 60m in government funding to provide a place for young people to go in every constituency, investing in schemes providing residential opportunities, such as Do It 4 Real, encouraging joined-up planning and commissioning of transport for young people, and using technology and peer influence to support young people's access to services.

(For comment see Young People Now, Aug. 1-7 2007, p. 8-9 and Community Care, Aug. 16th 2007, p. 18-19)

Changing structures: necessary but not sufficient

K. Skinner and L. Bell

Child Abuse Review, vol.16, 2007, p. 209-222

This article presents an in-depth study of the functioning of a Scottish Child Protection Committee in the light of government guidance that took effect from August 2005. The main findings of the evaluation were that the size of the committee, its coverage of three local authority areas, and its patterns of working meant that some aspects of its work were highly developed and effective, such as the guidelines and multi-agency training, while others, such as links with practice and the management of information systems, were poor. Consideration of these findings in the light of systems theory suggests that improving the effectiveness of child protection committees may need to be based on greater attention being paid to issues of authority, trust and negotiation among members.

Child Support Act 1991: no duty of care to children

D. Burrows

Family Law, vol. 37, 2007, p. 733-735

Mrs Rowley complained that she and her three children had suffered from the negligence of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (SSWP) and the Child Support Agency because of: a) the way maintenance had been assessed; b) the time taken to assess maintenance; and c) delays in collection of maintenance. The complainant lost her case in the Court of Appeal on the grounds that it was not just or reasonable to impose a common law duty of care on the SSWP under the Child Support Act 1991. The common law has thus let down a group of mostly needy children.

The earlier the better

N. Valios

Community Care, July 26th 2007, p. 20-21

The US Nurse-Family Partnership programme has proven successful over the past 30 years in improving the life chances of children of low-income first-time mothers. Under the programme, mothers receive home visits from a registered nurse from pregnancy until the child reaches the age of two. This approach is now being rolled out in the UK through the 7.00m Family Nurse Partnership Programme, which provides first-time teenage mothers with intensive, regular home visits from family nurses from pre-birth until their child is two.

Giving voice

J. Devo

Professional Social Work, Aug. 2007, p. 8-9

Report of an interview with John Kemmis, head of children in care charity Voice, in which he criticises the recent Care Matters white paper for ignoring the need for advocacy services for looked after children.

Indicators raise fears for children's services

M. Samuel

Community Care, July 26th 2007, p. 12-13

Targets for councils to deliver, singly or in partnership, will be cut from up to 1,200 in some areas to a national indicator set of 200, to be announced in the Autumn of 2007. There are concerns about the balance of targets across children's services under the new system, focusing on the potential over-representation of targets concerning educational attainment.

Miscarriages of justice or conspiracy theory?

A. Taylor

Community Care, Aug. 2nd 2007, p. 12-13

MP John Hemming's allegations that social workers are unnecessarily taking children into care to meet adoption targets have caused outrage in the sector. Campaigners fear that they will damage the public's trust in social workers. Hemming argues that financial incentives behind adoption targets are spurring councils to incorrectly take healthy white babies, who are easily adoptable, into care.

(See also Community Care, Aug. 2nd 2007, p. 10-11)

Over here to work

J. Scott

Young People Now, Aug. 15th-21st 2007, p. 15-21

An estimated 300,000 18-24-year-olds from Eastern Europe have applied to work in the UK since the accession of eight new member states from that area to the EU. This article looks at the impact of the influx of young people from Eastern Europe on youth services in Southampton, Slough and Folkestone, where advisory services are providing vital support.

Policies not targets

M. Narey and A. Douglas

Community Care, Aug. 2nd 2007, p. 18-19

Debating the pros and cons of a target for a smaller population of children in public care was the task assigned to one of the government's four working groups set up to consider the implications of proposals in the 2006 Care Matters green paper. Working group chair Martin Narey and member Anthony Douglas explain why the group concluded that a specific target for reducing the care population would not be in the best interests of children.

Safe and sound?

Professional Social Work, Aug. 2007, p. 12-13

The UK has been highly successful in preventing accidental death among children and young people. However accident prevention may have been achieved by overprotecting children and reducing opportunities for creative play. The government has recently launched a consultation on achieving a balance between accident prevention and not wrapping children up in cotton wool. This article summarises the issues and presents the views of four children's social work professionals.

Safer recruitment? Protecting children, improving practice in residential child care

H. Kay and others

Child Abuse Review, vol. 16, 2007, p. 223-236

Inquiries into the abuse of children in residential care have highlighted the need to improve staff recruitment and selection procedures to prevent unsuitable people from being employed. In response, the Scottish Executive introduced a toolkit for safer recruitment practice in 2001. This paper describes the results of a survey undertaken in 2005 which investigated the extent to which safer recruitment procedures had been implemented by local authorities and voluntary organisations. Results show that, although local authorities were more likely than voluntary bodies to have gone some way towards implementing safer recruitment procedures, the recruitment process still lacked rigour and commitment to safer practices in some organisations.

Sex offender management

K. Fitch and D. Sutton

ChildRight, issue 238, 2007, p. 18-21

'Megan's Law' is the term used to describe compulsory 'community notification' of the presence of convicted child sex offenders in a locality in the USA. There has been much debate about the introduction of a version of 'Megan's Law' in the UK and in 2006 the Home Secretary launched a review of child sex offender management. This article reports results of research on the impact of 'Megan's Law' in the US, outlines the NSPCC's response to the Home Office review, and discusses the issue of community notification from a children's rights perspective.

Sure Start Children's Centres

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons papers, session 2006/07; HC 261)

Sure Start children's centres are multi-purpose centres that bring together childcare, early education, health and family support services, with a particular emphasis on improving the life chances of the most disadvantaged children. From April 2006 local authorities have been responsible for planning and managing the programme in their areas. There were around 1,000 centres in September 2006, and local authorities are responsible for raising this to 3,500 centres by 2010. This investigation found that:

  • The rapid expansion of the programme creates the risk that the focus on improving services for disadvantaged families will be lost
  • There is a risk that the number of people being trained under the Early Years Professionals Scheme will not meet the demand for trained staff from new centres opening over the next two to three years.
  • Most children's centres are not doing enough to reach the most disadvantaged families
  • There is a lack of clarity about the cost-effectiveness of the programme, which could increase unless expenditure, outcomes and outputs are properly monitored.
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