A special issue of a journal examined what worked in interventions in chronic and severe child neglect.
Source: Child Abuse Review, Volume 23 Issue 4
Links: Table of contents
Notes: Articles included:
Brigid Daniel, Cheryl Burgess, Erica Whitfield, David Derbyshire, and Julie Taylor, 'Noticing and helping neglected children: messages from action on neglect'
Elaine Farmer and Eleanor Lutman, 'Working effectively with neglected children and their families ï¿½ what needs to change?'
Marian Brandon, Sue Bailey, Pippa Belderson, and Birgit Larsson, 'The role of neglect in child fatality and serious injury'
The government began consultation on proposals to revise the Children's Homes Regulations 2001, comprising new quality standards, administrative, and management regulations, as well as a guide to the regulations that would replace the existing national minimum standards for children's homes. The revised draft regulations and guide were published alongside the consultation document and the consultation would close on 14 November 2014.
Source: Children's Homes Regulations: High expectations and aspirations, Department for Education
A report said that the cost of providing appropriate support and services to meet the needs of all children and families returning home from care amounted to around £56 million a year, while the total estimated annual cost for all failed reunifications was £300 million. The report said that reunifications often failed because families received insufficient support to overcome problems such as poor parenting, domestic violence, parental substance misuse, and mental health problems. It noted some limitations in the data.
Source: Lisa Holmes, Supporting Children and Families Returning Home from Care: Counting the costs, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
A series of reports provided findings from research on the sexual exploitation of boys and young men in the United Kingdom. The research had found that almost one in three in a sample of the sexually exploited young people supported by Barnardo's since 2008 were male, although it was not known whether this was representative of the wider population. Interviews with professionals in the field had suggested that some young men were targeted and groomed by perpetrators, and that the risk factors were similar regardless of gender (although adults often thought of girls and young women as being more vulnerable). Perception of masculinity, fear of homophobia, or concern about being labelled an offender themselves were said to be potential barriers to disclosure of abuse. The summary report concluded that little was known about this complex issue, but the findings suggested that more gender-targeted responses were needed, and that awareness should be raised. It called for better research on female perpetrators, and for better standardized data collection.
Source: Hidden in Plain Sight: A scoping study into the sexual exploitation of boys and young men in the UK ï¿½ Policy briefing, Barnardo's
Source: Helen Brayley, Ella Cockbain, and Kate Gibson, Rapid Evidence Assessment ï¿½ the Sexual Exploitation of Boys and Young Men, Barnardo's
Source: Ella Cockbain, Helen Brayley, and Matthew Ashby, Not Just a Girl Thing: A large-scale comparison of male and female users of child sexual exploitation services in the UK, Barnardo's
Source: Carol McNaughton Nicholls, Shannon Harvey, and Caroline Paskell, Gendered Perceptions: What professionals say about the sexual exploitation of boys and young men in the UK, Barnardo's
Source: Carol McNaughton Nicholls, Ella Cockbain, Helen Brayley, Shannon Harvey, Carron Fox, Caroline Paskell, Matthew Ashby, Kate Gibson, and Natalie Jago, Research on the Sexual Exploitation of Boys And Young Men: A UK scoping study ï¿½ Summary of findings, Barnardo's
A report provided findings from a survey of members of the Independent Children's Homes Association on the state of the sector.
Source: Home Truths: The state of independent residential child care 2014, Independent Children's Homes Association
An article examined the outcomes for neglected children following structured assessment and intervention. It said that improvement was seen in the level of concern about neglect in 79 per cent of cases, with only 21 per cent showing no improvement. In 59 per cent of cases, concern about neglect was removed completely. It discussed aspects of the engagement by and with parents, and the impact on children.
Source: Tony Long, Michael Murphy, Debbie Fallon, Joan Livesley, Patric Devitt, Moira McLoughlin, and Alison Cavanagh, 'Four-year longitudinal impact evaluation of the Action for Children UK Neglect Project: outcomes for the children, families, Action for Children, and the UK', Child Abuse & Neglect, Volume 38 Issue 8
A report provided findings from an independent inquiry into Rotherham Borough Council's response to issues around child sexual exploitation. The inquiry examined the council's internal processes and procedures, as well as its work alongside partners, in responding to historical cases during the period 1997-2013. The report said that, on a conservative estimate, approximately 1400 children were sexually exploited over the period and in just over one-third of cases the children affected were previously known to services because of child protection and neglect. The report said there had been many improvements made by both the council and the police over the past four years, but the central team in children's social care that worked jointly with the police on child sexual exploitation struggled to keep pace with the demands of its workload, there were still matters (such as good risk assessment) for children's social care to address, and there was not enough long-term support for the child victims. The report made recommendations.
Source: Alexis Jay, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham 1997-2013
Links: Report | Council response | Action plan | RMBC press release | Letter from Edward Timpson | 4Children press release | ACPO press release | Childrens Society press release | IPCC statement | BBC report | Guardian report | Guardian report | Telegraph report
A report examined the evidence regarding trauma sensitive practice with children in care. It discussed the range of ongoing impacts that trauma could present, considered the therapeutic responses, and discussed the implications for adults working with, or caring for, traumatized children.
Source: Judy Furnivall and Edwina Grant, Trauma Sensitive Practice with Children in Care, Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services
A report examined corporate parenting for young people as they left the care system, and considered whether and how a range of local services worked together to extend corporate parenting responsibilities and accountability during this phase. It said that young people leaving care were often very vulnerable and were 'uniquely dependent' on local services as they made the transition to adulthood. While, in some cases, services met high standards, the report said that others were perceived to be poor, and it made a range of recommendations to improve provision, including: for more explicit recognition of care leavers in policy; for a range of automatic entitlements or priority for support; for better information and data sharing; for the development of joint working and protocols; and for more personalized services with named support providers.
Source: Linda Briheim-Crookall, Dustin Hutchinson, and Jo Dixon, Extended Corporate Parenting: Are local services good parents to care leavers?, Catch22
A study examined the locations from which people were reported missing to the police repeatedly in a one year period. The report said that private care homes (57.1 per cent) were the most common place and almost all (99.5 per cent) of those who went missing from private care homes were young people aged 18 years and under. The report made a range of recommendations, including: that Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission should routinely request a police summary of missing person reports as part of their inspections, and investigate (and maybe sanction) where there have been a high number of reports; that the police should carry out a case review on locations from which there were frequent missing persons; that the Department of Health and the police should urgently clarify relative responsibilities for missing patients, and consider how to enhance multi-agency relationships to improve safeguarding practices for vulnerable people; and for better routine information exchange between local authorities and police for children in care, with any changes monitored.
Source: Karen Shalev Greene and Carol Hayden, Repeat Reports to the Police of Missing People: Locations and characteristics, Centre for the Study of Missing Persons (University of Portsmouth)
A report examined the outcomes of pilots (set up in eight local authorities following recommendations in the Munro review of child protection) of dispensations that permitted setting aside the statutory requirements for social services' assessments of children.
Source: Emily Munro and Judith Stone, The Impact of More Flexible Assessment Practices in Response to the Munro Review of Child Protection: A rapid response follow-up, Research Report 376, Department for Education
A briefing paper said that the number of children in the care of councils in England rose by 7,210 (12 per cent) over a four year period to March 2013, but councils' costs increased by only 4 per cent nationally. Regional costs varied from a 15 per cent rise in the north east to a 7 per cent reduction in London, and the paper said that there was significant variation between councils in the average amount spent on each looked-after child. The analysis had found inconsistencies in data reporting, but a range of factors were said to affect how much councils spent, including: how easy it was to recruit local foster carers; the availability of suitable local placements; the balance between the council's use of its own and agency foster care services; and the nature of the foster care market operating in the local area.
Source: Councils' Expenditure on Looked after Children, Audit Commission
The probation inspectorate examined the child protection work undertaken by probation staff and youth offending teams (YOTs) with young people at risk from adult offenders and young people whose own behaviour put them at risk. The report said that: YOTs were well connected to children's social care services, enquiries and referrals were made, and information was shared; there was some excellent direct work carried out by YOTs with children and their parents/carers; and there was some good work by individual probation staff. However, the report outlined areas of concern, including: elements of assessing, planning, and evidencing work (including concerns about joint planning, and the variability of relationships with local safeguarding children boards); the prioritization of child protection work as a core task; understanding (by some probation staff) of the nature and purpose of such work; variable progress in work to address child sexual exploitation; and management oversight. The report made recommendations.
Source: An Inspection of the Work of Probation Trusts and Youth Offending Teams to Protect Children and Young People, HM Inspectorate of Probation
A report examined social workers' ability to implement changes following the Children and Families Act within the existing infrastructure. It said that the Act presented possibilities to improve significantly on providing sustainable outcomes for vulnerable children and their families, but that social workers had concerns over caseloads, supervision, and the perception of the profession, and almost 20 per cent of children's social workers surveyed were not aware of the changes that were introduced by the Act. The report made a range of recommendations.
Source: Voices from the Front Line: Supporting our social workers in the delivery of quality services to children, Victoria Climbie Foundation/HCL Social Care
A report provided an estimate of the overall costs of child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom. It said that such costs were difficult to estimate and were clouded by the levels of potential unreported abuse, but a 'low estimate' for 2012 was £1.6 billion. The report said that the majority of the costs fell on the victim through lost productivity, but costs to the Exchequer were also significant in areas such as health, the criminal justice system, and children's social care services.
Source: Aliya Saied-Tessier, Estimating the Costs of Child Sexual Abuse in the UK, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
A special issue of a journal presented a collection of articles on child protection policy and practice, almost three years after the publication of the Munro review of child protection.
Source: Journal of Social Work Practice, Volume 28 Issue 3
Notes: Articles included:
Andrew Cooper, 'A short psychosocial history of British child abuse and protection: case studies in problems of mourning in the public sphere'
Paul Dugmore, 'Working together, or keeping apart? A critical discourse analysis of the revised Working Together guidance (2013)'
Steve Bambrough, Mike Shaw, and Sophie Kershaw, 'The Family Drug and Alcohol Court Service in London: a new way of doing care proceedings'
A report examined the number and nature of child abuse allegations made against foster carers and residential care workers in the United Kingdom. The report said that around 22 per cent of allegations per year were confirmed (affecting under one per cent of children in foster care, and 2-3 per cent of children in residential care). Almost half of the foster carers involved in substantiated cases had been the subject of previous allegations, and over half of the cases concerning residential staff were categorized as either physical abuse or use of excessive physical restraint. The report said that these estimates might be an underestimate, as some allegations were unsubstantiated due to a lack of evidence to either prove or disprove them. Acknowledging that some children and young people did make false allegations, the report said that foster and residential care should be underpinned by a child-centred, rights-based approach that ensured their concerns were heard, and it concluded that there was no substitute for high quality supervision of frontline staff, effective monitoring and review of placements, and good co-operation and communication between agencies.
Source: Nina Biehal, Linda Cusworth, and Jim Wade, with Susan Clarke, Keeping Children Safe: Allegations concerning the abuse or neglect of children in care – final report, University of York/NSPCC
A new book examined the evidence and impact regarding the case of Peter Connelly, a 17 month old boy, known initially in the media reporting as 'Baby P', who died following neglect and abuse. The book discussed how the story was told in the media, how it became focused on the social workers involved, and its impact on the child protection system in England.
Source: Ray Jones, The Story of Baby P: Setting the record straight, Policy Press
A think-tank report examined the experiences of vulnerable children and young people in their contact with statutory child protection and mental health services, and the interface between the voluntary sector and statutory services in these areas of work. It said that there were examples of good practice, but children in some cases were being 'spectacularly failed' by some statutory services, and child protection and statutory mental health services in some parts of England were in crisis and not fit for purpose. The report said that there was a lack of accurate data on the scale and nature of the risks. It made recommendations, including for the establishment of a Royal Commission to advise on the redesign of services.
Source: Adele Eastman, Enough is Enough: A report on child protection and mental health services for children and young people, Centre for Social Justice
The government responded to a report by a committee of MPs on residential children's homes.
Source: Residential Children's Homes: Government response to the Committee's Sixth Report of Session 2013-14, First Special Report (Session 201415), HC 305, House of Commons Education Select Committee, TSO
A paper provided an overview of transition planning services provided to young people with learning disabilities as they moved from children's services to adult services in Great Britain, outlining the relevant legislation and policy in England, Scotland, and Wales and highlighting a number of national and local transition planning projects.
Source: Lynda Conlon, Transition Planning for Young People with Learning Disabilities in Great Britain, Research Paper 65/14, Northern Ireland Assembly
A report examined United Kingdom and international research findings on children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours. It said that: children and young people accounted for approximately one-quarter of all sexual abuse convictions against victims of all ages; underreporting was likely to be due to the stigma and shame surrounding the issue; in many cases, children and young people were both perpetrators and victims of abuse; many families of young people with harmful sexual behaviours were described as multiply troubled; and it was an issue that parents found difficult. The report discussed policy implications and said that, as most sexual abuse by children and young people did not come to the attention of youth justice services, provision should span the child welfare and criminal justice systems, with emphasis on early and positive interventions for children and their families.
Source: Simon Hackett, Children and Young People with Harmful Sexual Behaviours – A Research Review, Research in Practice
The inspectorate for education and children's services published an evaluation of the new framework for the inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after, and care leavers (single inspection framework) and reviews of Local Safeguarding Children Boards. The report was published alongside an independent review, based on initial feedback from inspectors and from local authorities that had been inspected under the new framework. The report said that there was general endorsement that the new framework was inspecting the right aspects of work, and so could have an impact on improvement in the sector, but there was widespread concern about the consequent demands on inspectors and local authorities and about the reliability and validity of the judgments reached. The report made recommendations.
Source: The New Ofsted Framework for the Inspection of Children's Services and for Reviews of Local Safeguarding Children Boards: An evaluation, HMI 140099, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
Source: Eileen Munro, Review of First Eleven Ofsted Inspections of Services for Children in Need of Help and Protection, Children Looked after and Care Leavers, and Local Safeguarding Children Boards, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
The government published its response to a consultation on draft regulations that would extend the range of children's social care functions that local authorities could delegate to third party providers. It said that, under new regulations to be introduced in autumn 2014, local authorities would be able to delegate social care functions to mutuals, community interest companies, and other not-for-profit organizations to deliver children's social care, but only bodies working on a not-for-profit basis would be able to take on the functions. The accountability of local authorities and role of Ofsted would remain unchanged.
Source: Consultation on Powers to Delegate Social Care Functions: Government response, Department for Education
A think-tank report examined mentoring and befriending schemes for children in care. It said that such schemes were able to provide the supportive relationship that young people in care sought but, while these schemes played an important, positive role in young people's lives, the independent visitor scheme introduced by the government was under resourced and had limited capacity for expansion. The report called for more robust, longitudinal evidence to inform the case for further investment in mentoring and befriending schemes.
Source: Helen Kersley and Ben Estep, Relationships for Children in Care: The value of mentoring and befriending, New Economics Foundation
The inspectorate for education and children's services began consultation on proposals for the integrated inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after, and care leavers, and for the joint inspections of Local Safeguarding Children Boards. The consultation was issued jointly with the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, and HM Inspectorate of Probation, and a joint report was published alongside the consultation document, outlining inspection findings in relation to the support and protection of children. The consultation would close on 12 September 2014.
Source: Integrated Inspections of Services for Children in Need of Help and Protection, Children Looked After and Care Leavers and Joint Inspections of the Local Safeguarding Children Board, HMI 140112, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
The government published a range of reports regarding the Children's Social Care Innovation Programme, and invited applications for seed funding. The programme was introduced with the stated aim of supporting the development, testing, and sharing of more effective and innovative ways in which to support children who needed help from children's social care services.
Source: Department for Education
A study examined changes made to the Public Law Outline (guidance used by the judiciary for managing public law cases), which were intended to streamline processes and lead to faster outcomes in care and supervision proceedings. The report outlined views on how the changes had affected pre-proceedings work and court proceedings and whether, and how, the revised PLO was impacting on the wider family justice system. It said that practitioners were, overall, positive about the aim of reducing the time that cases spent in court, and that they felt cases were being conducted more efficiently, with children's needs identified earlier in the proceedings and levels of delay reduced. It said further improvement work was required in some areas, and outlined issues for further consideration.
Source: Paul Harvey, Rebeccah Szyndler, Harriet Fowler, Danny Slater, Rachel Cook, and Penelope Welbourne, Action Research to Explore the Implementation and Early Impacts of the Revised Public Law Outline (PLO), Ministry of Justice
A report examined how local authorities could improve services for children and young people. It called on local government to 'reclaim' children's services from national government and the inspectorates, and to use their democratic legitimacy, informal power, and role as 'place-shapers' to champion better outcomes for children and young people. It said this would require systemic change, including workforce reform to promote a more integrated children's workforce, stronger mechanisms for sector-led improvement, changes to the assurance mechanism, and deregulation.
Source: Reclaiming Children's Services, SOLACE
A report provided a summary from a series of seminars that examined how to prevent child sexual abuse and how better to support children who had experienced it. The report considered intra-familial sexual abuse, peer-to-peer abuse and harmful sexual behaviour, and the prevention of sexual abuse within institutions. It made a range of recommendations to government, including: for greater clarity on information sharing; for greater prioritization of work regarding harmful sexual behaviour; for more specialized training for social workers and teachers; and for better and more consistent support for children and young people who were harmed by abuse.
Source: Recommendations for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Better Support for Victims, Child Protection All Party Parliamentary Group
A report examined existing practice in Scotland regarding the review of child deaths. The report recommended that Scotland should introduce a national Child Death Review System to: review each death systematically in a multi-agency forum; collate a uniform data set to inform learning and policy development; and identify factors which might reduce preventable childhood deaths.
Source: Scottish Government Child Death Review Working Group, Child Death Review Report, Scottish Government
A report evaluated the pilot Family Drug and Alcohol Court. The court provided a problem-solving, therapeutic approach to care proceedings in cases where parental substance misuse was a key element in the local authority decision to bring proceedings. It aimed to improve outcomes for children by helping parents to change their lifestyle, and was piloted in central London between January 2008 and March 2012. Key findings included: that FDAC families had higher rates of substance misuse cessation, higher rates of family reunification, and a reduced rate of neglect or abuse one year after children returned home (compared with parents who had been through ordinary care proceedings); that FDAC was not quicker in achieving alternative permanent placement; and that, in addition to receiving support from the FDAC team, a higher proportion of FDAC mothers and fathers were offered help from other agencies for their substance misuse. The evaluation concluded that FDAC should continue to be rolled out more widely, and the report made a range of related recommendations.
Source: Judith Harwin, Bachar Alrouh, Mary Ryan, and Jo Tunnard, Changing Lifestyles, Keeping Children Safe: An evaluation of the first Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) in care proceedings, Brunel University
A new book examined the impact of reforms in multi-agency child protection systems in England, at both local and national level, following the Munro Report of 2011. It examined, in particular, early intervention, vulnerable adolescents, and effective multi-agency responses to young people at risk, as well as the role of Local Safeguarding Children Boards.
Source: Maggie Blyth (ed.), Moving on From Munro: Improving children's services, Policy Press
The government began consultation on proposals to widen the range of children's social services functions that a local authority in England might privatize. The draft regulations (published alongside the consultation) would enable all social services functions related to children (with some exceptions) to be discharged by a third party provider. The regulations would also permit the delegation of certain duties of the local authority in relation to co-operation, Children's Trust Boards, and the implementation of Children and Young People's Plans. The consultation would close on 30 May 2014.
Source: Powers to Delegate Children's Social Care Functions, Department for Education
A report examined how long-term foster care could be supported and improved, based on a survey of foster carers and other connected professionals in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It said that long-term placements could provide secure and successful homes, but called for changes to improve the statutory framework. The survey had found that 85 per cent of responding foster carers thought that placement decisions were well made and 58 per cent of all respondents thought that matching worked well, although arrangements for confirmation of placements were inconsistent and were often seen as unsatisfactory by individual respondents. The report said that the child's needs often changed significantly over time, particularly involving emotional trauma, or worsening health conditions. Access to the child's social worker was sometimes seen as difficult and the record keeping requirements were considered overly demanding by 70 per cent of foster carers. The report said that preparation for independence was a 'big issue' and some foster carers were unable to commit to supporting young people beyond the age of 18, mainly because of financial considerations. Foster carers also raised concerns about training, inadequate respite care, placement reviews, and delegated authority. The report made recommendations.
Source: Madeleine Tearse, Long-term Foster Care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland: Views from members of the Fostering Network, Fostering Network
A survey examined children's centres, asking practitioners and parents what they valued and where resources should be prioritized in the future. Key findings included: over 90 percent of respondents agreed that the local children's centre was important to their community; 87 per cent wanted funding to be prioritized; and almost 80 per cent supported the principle of providing a universal point of access with specialist support offered to vulnerable families. The report also discussed respondents' views on which services should be prioritized, how joint working between health services and children's centres could be improved, how to identify those in most need of services, and how to secure the future of children's centres.
Source: Heather Ransom, 'Developing the Future Purpose for Children's Centres': Findings from the National Children's Bureau survey of practitioners and parents, National Childrenï¿½s Bureau
The inspectorate for education and children's services said that in 2013, more than one in ten looked-after children in England lived outside their home local authority area, and more than 20 miles from their home community. The reasons were said to be varied, but it was most commonly due to a shortage of suitable carers closer to home. While there were areas of good practice, the report said that the quality of permanence planning and preparation for independence was inconsistent, and that there was too often a lack of support from health and education in the assessment process. The report called on the government to review information sharing, for local safeguarding children boards to improve their monitoring of local arrangements, and for local authorities to make a range of improvements and changes across policy and practice.
Source: From a Distance: Looked after children living away from their home area, HMI 140064, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
The inspectorate for education and children's services examined the effectiveness of arrangements to safeguard children who experience neglect, drawing on case evidence and the views of parents, carers and professionals in England. It outlined areas of practice where there was particular concern, and said that more needed to be done to identify and respond effectively to the earliest stages of neglect. It called for local authorities and local safeguarding children boards to improve their understanding of the extent of neglect in their areas and to develop shared strategies to prioritize action. It also recommended that social work training should be improved, to increase professional understanding of the impact of neglect.
Source: In the Child's Time: Professional responses to neglect, HMI 140059, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
A report said that neglect was the most common form of child abuse in the United Kingdom, and that up to one in 10 children experienced neglect. It said there were a number of barriers that prevented cases being addressed, including: social workers being unable to intervene at an early enough stage; outdated child neglect law; the general public's lack of knowledge about how to report concerns about children, and unclear routes for children and young people to report concerns about their peers; barriers to parents in accessing parenting programmes; and a lack of accurate prevalence data, leading to inadequate levels of commissioned services.
Source: Child Neglect: The scandal that never breaks, Action for Children
An article examined early findings from the evaluation of pilot Social Work Practices (SWPs), which were established in England in 2009 to deliver social work services to looked-after children and care leavers. It described features of the varied emerging models and their relationships with local authorities. The article concluded that the findings showed some dilution of the original SWP model, although the diversity of pilots allowed benefits of the various formats to emerge.
Source: Nicky Stanley, Helen Austerberry, Andy Bilson, Nicola Farrelly, Katrina Hargreaves, Shereen Hussein, Anne Ingold, Jill Manthorpe, Julie Ridley, and Vicki Strange, 'Establishing Social Work Practices in England: the early evidence', British Journal of Social Work, Volume 44 Number 2
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 was given Royal assent. The Act provided for additional, funded early learning and childcare, for every child and young person to have a named person from birth responsible for safeguarding their well-being, for the extension of the upper age limit for young people leaving care, and for kinship carers to be provided with more support from local authorities.
Source: Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, Scottish Parliament, TSO
A report by a committee of MPs said that it had concerns about the latest reforms to residential children's homes in England. The report made recommendations for government action, including: to address issues that undermined placement stability; to develop a national strategy for care provision based on better assessment of need; to implement and enforce regulation; to develop better collaboration between local authorities and other agencies; to review risks associated with the location of residential homes; to look at the potential impact of requiring placements within 20 miles of home; and to give children more say in selecting their carers.
Source: Residential Children's Homes, Sixth Report (Session 201314), HC 716, House of Commons Education Select Committee, TSO
A report examined the work of Independent Review Officers in England. All children in care had an IRO, an adult who had oversight of their care plan and was empowered to act on their behalf in challenging the local authority. The report said that IROs could have an impact on managing the review of care plans, and they were able to contribute to improved support and services for looked-after children, but consistent practice was found to be undermined by a range of issues, including high case loads, an inability to assert independence and confront poor practice, and an expectation to conduct other duties outside the IRO remit. The report made recommendations to strengthen independent practice.
Source: Helena Jelicic, Ivana La Valle, Di Hart, and Lisa Holmes, The Role of Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) in England: Final report, National Childrenï¿½s Bureau
A new book examined the impact of the marketisation of social work services in Ireland and England, arguing that it had a negative impact on policy regimes, working conditions, social work practices, and services for vulnerable children and young people.
Source: Paul Michael Garrett (ed.), Children and Families, Policy Press
A report examined the role of children's centres in England. It said that they provided important early intervention services and that they should be placed on a statutory footing akin to schools. It noted the diversity of needs at different stages of child development and said that policy should take a more nuanced view of the 0-5 age group to provide for this. It recommended re-examining the structure and commissioning models for children's centres.
Source: Jonathan Rallings, What Are Children's Centres For?, Barnardo's
An article examined kinship care. Most research had only considered 'looked-after' children placed with formal approved kinship foster carers, whereas this group formed the smallest proportion of children in kinship arrangements. Most children in kinship care were growing up in informal unregulated arrangements.
Source: Julie Selwyn and Shailen Nandy, 'Kinship care in the UK: using census data to estimate the extent of formal and informal care by relatives', Child & Family Social Work, Volume 19 Issue 1
A report provided the results from a systematic review of the clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and acceptability of community-based interventions to improve quality of life for children of parents with serious mental illness. It said that there was a lack of robust evidence and recommended work to establish feasible and acceptable interventions, with a randomized controlled trial to evaluate clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, using validated, child-centred quality of life outcome measures and high quality cost data.
Source: Penny Bee, Peter Bower, Sarah Byford, Rachel Churchill, Rachel Calam, Paul Stallard, Steven Pryjmachuk, Kathryn Berzins, Maria Cary, Ming Wan, and Kathryn Abel, 'The clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and acceptability of community-based interventions aimed at improving or maintaining quality of life in children of parents with serious mental illness: a systematic review', Health Technology Assessment, Volume 18 Issue 8
A government department published its responses to consultations on improving safeguarding for children in care and reforming residential care for children. The government announced a range of measures, to be introduced from January 2014, that would: specify how decisions on out of area placements would be made; change the regulations governing residential homes; require staff to hold qualifications; publish more information on the quality of residential homes; and strengthen the inspection regime.
Source: Consultation on Improving Safeguarding for Looked After Children: Changes to the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 – Government response, Department for Education
Source: Consultation on Reforming Children's Homes Care: Consultation on changes to The Children's Homes Regulations 2001 (as amended) and The Care Standards Act 2000 (Registration) (England) Regulations 2010 – Government response, Department for Education Links: Response | Consultation document | DE press release
The government published its response to a consultation on revising the statutory guidance on children who run away or go missing from home or care. It also published a new statutory guidance document.
Source: Consultation on the Revised Statutory Guidance on Children Who Run Away or go Missing from Home or Care: Government response, Department for Education
The Scottish government published its response to the national foster care review. The review had been established to assess a range of potential reforms, and provide direction on policy questions regarding: the organization and management of foster carers; carers' learning and development; and the financial and practical support offered to carers.
Source: Scottish Government Response to the Findings by the Foster Care Review, Scottish Government
The Northern Ireland Executive began consultation on a draft set of fostering services regulations, designed to support and strengthen the provision of services within the statutory, voluntary and independent sectors. The consultation examined a range of issues on topics such as foster carer selection, placement decisions, monitoring, and provisions for safeguarding. It would close on 7 April 2014.
Source: The Foster Placement and Fostering Agencies Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014: A consultation document, Northern Ireland Executive
A report examined the children's residential care market in England, factors influencing placement decisions, and the use of out of authority placements (placements of children in homes in a different local authority area). It said that, while cost was a key consideration, local authorities' key aims were to meet the needs of the child. Where out of authority placements were selected, it said this was most frequently to meet the need for a secure placement, or to reduce risk to the child. Some local authorities were said to use out of area placements that other authorities had considered of insufficient quality. It noted the resourcing issues involved in out of authority placements and said that information sharing must be improved to protect children more effectively. It also suggested amendments to regulations to improve collaboration between services and to strengthen the inspection regime.
Source: Emily Munro, Sam McDermid, Katie Hollingworth, and Claire Cameron, Children's Homes: Understanding the market and the use of out of authority placements, Working Paper 23, Child Wellbeing Research Centre
The inspectorate for education and children's services said that inspections of local authority private fostering arrangements in England had identified a number of ways to improve the collection and management of information about private fostering so that, nationally, there would be a better understanding of this area. Highlighting a range of key points from recent inspections, it also recommended adjustments to existing requirements for authorities to make an annual review of their arrangements.
Source: Private Fostering: Better information, better understanding, HMI 130249, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
An article reviewed the literature relating to young peopleï¿½s experiences of social support during their transition from state care. It discussed implications for policy, practice and future research.
Source: Dominic Hiles, Duncan Moss, John Wright, and Rudi Dallos, 'Young people's experience of social support during the process of leaving care: a review of the literature', Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 36 Number 12