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With the UK Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government reaching its mid-term point, this paper examines its austerity measures and public expenditure reductions in family…
With the UK Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government reaching its mid-term point, this paper examines its austerity measures and public expenditure reductions in family support and children's services, and its revisions of family support, family intervention, child poverty, child well-being and children's services reform policies in contrast to the former Labour governments.
The paper is informed by policy analysis and research reviews.
The analysis focuses on three dimensions of policy change: first, reductions in income support for children and families and central government funding for children's services; second, refocusing child poverty, child well-being and family policies around the Conservative's “Broken Britain” campaign and the Liberal Democrats targeted social mobility initiatives; and finally, broader children's services reforms. The paper recognises some progressive developments but charts the social welfare implications of reduced welfare entitlements for families and the pressures on support services for families from children's services reforms.
The paper combines reflections on the aims, achievements and limitations of Labour reforms to family support and children's services with a broader analysis of welfare state retrenchment and restructuring under the Coalition. It places current changes in family support and children's services within the context of the ideological influences on the Coalition's social policies and the primacy of its austerity programme and welfare state reform agendas.
This article identifies the broad reasons why costs in children's care services might vary, illustrating them with examples from research literature relating to England…
This article identifies the broad reasons why costs in children's care services might vary, illustrating them with examples from research literature relating to England. An intentionally broad use of ‘costs’ is employed. The literature has been neither systematically nor comprehensively reviewed but does include most of the recent work in the social care field. Articles have been selected to illustrate particular cost associations. This article finds that there is as yet insufficient research into the costs, cost variations or cost‐effectiveness of children's services. However, the findings provide guidance for decision‐makers as they try to understand how resources are currently deployed and why this might be.
This article reviews the first volume of the Journal of Children's Services. In doing so, it discusses broader directions and challenges in research, policy and practice…
This article reviews the first volume of the Journal of Children's Services. In doing so, it discusses broader directions and challenges in research, policy and practice. The article focuses on discussion about outcomes, the ‘idea’ of children's services and the impact of interventions on children's health and development. It welcomes reflections on different approaches to outcome measurement, analyses of the practicalities of implementing policy reforms and rigorous evaluations of the impact of Early Years, parenting and other programmes. At the same time, it suggests specific areas in which more work would be valuable, including: socio‐political commentary on policy developments; methods of and results from need analyses; empirical research on inter‐agency initiatives; how to improve the processes and structures that underpin good outcomes; transitions; and understanding ‘what works’ in research dissemination and utilisation. The value of international perspectives (including intra‐UK comparisons) is stressed. Forthcoming special editions on randomised controlled trials (RCTs) (2007) and anti‐social behaviour by young people (2008) will help to address other points raised.
This article explains how joint agency services for children with special needs have been operating in Devon for a number of years. The business processes and ICT systems…
This article explains how joint agency services for children with special needs have been operating in Devon for a number of years. The business processes and ICT systems underpinning the service are described and specific key worker services are explained. The Fair Access to Carers' Breaks model explains how Devon has allocated financial resources to meet individual users' needs. This will be relevant to any authority looking for a transparent means of distributing equitably financial resources such as the additional resources provided by Aiming High for Disabled Children. The article goes on to describe how child and adolescent mental health services were added to the joint agency service and how the choice and partnership approach (CAPA) has virtually removed the waiting list for this service in Devon. The article then describes how further integration of services will be achieved by establishing early response and further response services which will include the Public Health Nursing Service and Education staff.
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are acknowledged to provide the most reliable estimate of programme effectiveness, yet relatively few are undertaken in children's…
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are acknowledged to provide the most reliable estimate of programme effectiveness, yet relatively few are undertaken in children's services. Consequently, there are few models with a demonstrated impact on child well‐being, leading to a concern not only that services may frequently be ineffective but also that some may be harmful. This article considers how this state of affairs has come into being and discusses potential remedies for improving both the knowledge base and the quality of interventions. It focuses on ‘operating systems’ that link prevention science and community engagement and so help communities, agencies and local authorities to choose effective prevention, early intervention and treatment models. Specifically, it describes an attempt in Ireland to implement a robust programme of research into children's health and development, to rigorously design new services, evaluate their impact to the highest standard (using RCTs)and integrate the results into the policy process. Based on the authors' extensive first‐hand experience of supporting the work, and the advice of international experts, the article reflects critically on the unforeseen challenges and offers lessons for others starting a similar enterprise.
The Government's vision for children's services in England and Wales, Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003), and the subsequent Children Act 2004 are ground‐breaking in that…
The Government's vision for children's services in England and Wales, Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003), and the subsequent Children Act 2004 are ground‐breaking in that they encourage local authorities to focus on child outcomes and demand the integration of previously separate services, such as social care and education. Previous articles in this series were by Herbert Laming (2006), whose inquiry helped pave the way for the 2004 legislation, Tom Jeffery (2006), the Director‐General of the central government Directorate for Children, Young People and Families, and John Coughlan (2006), a Director of Children's Services in one local authority and president of the Association of Directors of Social Services.This article offers the perspective Tim Byles, Chief Executive of Partnerships for Schools, a joint venture between Partnerships UK ‐ established by HM Treasury six years ago ‐ and the Department for Education and Skills ‐ the UK government's lead department on children's services. The remit of Partnerships for Schools is to rebuild or renew every secondary school in England over a 15‐year time period. Previously, Tim Byles was Chief Executive in Norfolk, a local authority with a population of 830,000 and a budget of £1.25 billion. In that job, Tim took a pivotal role not only in implementing the Children Act 2004, but also in working with central government to resolve problems that emerged as the bill passed through parliament. What follows is an edited transcript of Tim Byles's comments.
This article explores some of the contemporary challenges facing leaders of children's services. Using the theoretical framework of the ‘incomplete leader’ developed by…
This article explores some of the contemporary challenges facing leaders of children's services. Using the theoretical framework of the ‘incomplete leader’ developed by Ancona and colleagues (2007), the article reflects on the many challenges facing children's service leaders. It argues that a distributed and connected model of leadership is the best available in the current climate of change and challenge. This model contradicts the current one of embodied, individualised leadership contained in the England and Wales Children Act 2004. The article argues that the key leadership skills are about making sense of change, relating to people, creating a vision and developing new ways of working. The article utilises Government policy documents such as the Children's Plan and Care Matters, workforce issues and strategic planning to illustrate the nature of the leadership challenge. It concludes by suggesting a way forward for children's services leadership in integrated settings, in the current climate of audit and managerialism.
Whilst the government makes progress on opening up children’s social work, including child protection, to the market place and to private and commercial businesses, there…
Whilst the government makes progress on opening up children’s social work, including child protection, to the market place and to private and commercial businesses, there has been little comment on the strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats, of the political policy direction being pursued. In particular, what are the implications for the integration and consolidation of services, which had been the “joined-up” services policy ambition of previous governments and, for health and social care services, remain the declared ambition of the current government? The paper aims to discuss these issues.
This paper considers the potential impact on children’s social work services and child protection from the government’s policy and regulatory changes which open up all children’s social work to the market place.
Particular concerns are noted that the changes now being allowed and promoted will lead to greater fragmentation rather than integration.
This is the first paper to reflect on the government’s push and preference for the unregulated market place it created in 2014 for children’s social work, including child protection.
The concept of ‘well‐being’ is entering into the policy debate on the back of recent research on ‘happiness’ ‐ self‐assessed evaluations of quality of life. It stands for…
The concept of ‘well‐being’ is entering into the policy debate on the back of recent research on ‘happiness’ ‐ self‐assessed evaluations of quality of life. It stands for a reassertion of relationships and feelings as central to positive evaluations and against the competitive and consumerist ethos of market individualism. Although the findings of research on well‐being among adults need to be adapted to suit children's situations and perceptions, work on this is in progress. This article presents some of the issues for measuring children's well‐being and for comparing measurements between countries. It also considers the implications for children's services of an approach that re‐values the relational elements in human service work, and argues that coherence between services is as important as the outcomes of interventions with individuals and families.
This article reviews the contents of the previous year's editions of the Journal of Children's Services (Volume 2, 2007), as requested by the Journal's editorial board. It…
This article reviews the contents of the previous year's editions of the Journal of Children's Services (Volume 2, 2007), as requested by the Journal's editorial board. It draws out some of the main messages for how high‐quality scientific research can help build good childhoods in western developed countries, focusing on: the need for epidemiology to understand how to match services to needs; how research can build evidence of the impact of prevention and intervention services on child well‐being; what the evidence says about how to implement proven programmes successfully; the economic case for proven programmes; the urgency of improving children's material living standards; how to help the most vulnerable children in society; and, lastly, the task of measuring child well‐being.