Under Section 17  of the Children Act 1989, a child is a Child in Need if:
He/she is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him/her of services by a local authority;
His/her health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him/her of such services; or
Every local authority must protect and promote the welfare of children in need in its area. To do this it must work with the family to provide support services that will enable children to be brought up within their own families.
The local authority can provide a range of services for children in need. These can include:-
day care facilities for children under 5 and not yet at school
after-school and holiday care or activities for school age children
advice, guidance and counselling
occupational, social, cultural or recreational activities
home helps and laundry facilities
assistance with travelling to and from home in order to use any services provided by the local authority
assistance for the child and family to have a holiday
looking after the child, see below.
The local authority must publish information about the services it provides for children in need and their families. This must be made available to the people who might benefit from the services
Section 31 is for a child being looked after under a care or supervision order:
Where it is thought that the only way to protect a child from harm is by making a legal order, a court can make any of the following orders.
There are made under Section 31 of the Children Act and give the Local Authority parental responsibility. A care order is made if the court accepts that the young person is suffering significant harm and the care being given is not what a parent should give or the young person is beyond their parent’s control. A care order stands until.
The young person is 18.
The young person is adopted.
A supervision order, residence order or special guardianship order is made.
Care Matters: Time for Change , the white paper. This document was published in June, 2007. It outlines the government’s strategy for children and young people in care. There are four central principles:
There should be high ambitions for children in care.
Good parenting should be available from everyone in the system.
There should be stability in every aspect of the child’s experience.
From Care Matters: Time for change 2007, it was mandated that :
Delivering a first-class education This section of the white paper highlights the importance of stability for the child in care. There is the expectation that children will continue at the same school, even when a placement changes. This becomes a particular imperative in Years 10 and 11.
From April 2008, all LAs will be expected to provide information and support for parents and carers in finding early years provision. This represents an increased recognition of the importance of a good start in education.
The LA has also been given authority to require schools to admit children in care, even where the school is fully subscribed. A designated teacher, who is a qualified teacher, will be assigned to each child. This teacher will take particular responsibility for the child, raising their attainment, analysing data and identifying their learning needs. The designated teacher will draw up and oversee the delivery of the personal education plan.
In order to enable a personalised curriculum for the child in care from 2008, £500 a year will be available for those at risk of not reaching the expected standards of attainment. A ‘virtual head’, with responsibility for children in care, is currently being piloted in 11 local authorities. They will keep an overview of the progress of children and be accountable for attendance, behaviour and rates of exclusion.
Residential Care for Children/Children's Homes is there to ensure that the needs of children are met when they cannot live with their own family. They are a place for children to develop and grow, as well as providing food, shelter, and space for play and leisure in a caring environment. Children's Homes look after children with many different needs. When children and young people come to live in a Children's Home they will have a Care Plan. Their Care Plan says why a child is living in a home, what is supposed to happen while they are living there and what is supposed to happen at the end of their stay. Most children will go home, but a few go to live with other families and a few go to live in other homes. Older children who are not planning to return home, are given help to prepare them for living on their own - this is called Aftercare.
Foster Care: Foster care is the colloquial term used for a system in which a minor who has been made a ward is placed in the private home of a state certified caregiver referred to as a "foster parent". The state via the family court and child protection agency stand in loco parents to the minor making all legal decisions, while the foster parent is responsible for the day to day care of said minor. The foster parent is remunerated by the state for their services. Foster care is intended to be a short term situation until a permanent placement can be made
Private Fostering is the term used when a parent or guardian places a child who is under school leaving age in the care of someone else, who is not a close relative or an officially approved foster carer, for a period of more than 28 days. Although the arrangement is private, the local authority Social Work Department has an obligation to secure the welfare of every privately fostered child and therefore has to make a series of reports and checks.
Attachment theory is a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory concerning relationships between humans. The most important tenet of attachment theory is that a young child needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally. The theory was formulated by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby
Children need to have a sense of security in all aspects of their lives so that they can grow up to be healthy and productive adults.
An infant or toddler is considered “securely attached” if, as they mature and move through their normal developmental stages, they can use their mother or other consistent caregiver as a secure base from which to explore their environment. The securely attached baby or toddler trusts that care will be given to them, their needs will be met consistently, they will be helped to learn self regulation, and they will be encouraged to learn and explore their environment. Because they feel safe and secure, they have the confidence and sense of competence they need to try new things and to learn.
Insecure attachment can develop if the primary caregiver, usually the mother, does not consistently respond to the infant in warm, affectionate, loving, dependable, and sensitive ways. Babies who are frequently left to cry by themselves, or who are not offered comfort and care, learn not to trust other people and to be fearful of the world around them. They can go on to develop a mental representation of the world as hostile or uncaring. They may believe that they cannot make a difference in their own life, which can lead to a kind of pessimism and sense of helplessness that significantly reduces their ability to achieve in life
Because healthy attachments are fundamental for children when developing. When assessing children and looking at their developmental needs, the parenting capacity of their carers and the influence of their family and environment it is important to observe the stability all these areas have so children can trust and have no fear of the world around them.
When ECM Green paper and the 2004 CA were established, it meant that legislation regarding the working methods within children’s services were amended. Assessment was now seen as an essential part of working with children and young people as:
It gave practitioners a holistic (Holistic assessment means checking up the entire system of a person - physical condition, mental, emotional, perhaps even social condition ) tool to identify a child’s need before reaching a crisis point.
It ensured important needs weren’t overlooked
It provided common structure to record and facilitate information that all practitioners could use.
It provides evidence of facilitated requests.
Reduces unnecessary referrals
Allows specialist services to focus their resources where they are needed the most.
measure: evaluate or estimate the nature, quality, ability, extent, or significance of
Family Assessment provides a systematic and evidence based approach to assessing family life and relationships. This includes family adaptability, parenting and how family members communicate, handle feelings, relate to each other and approach crucial issues of identity, as well as the impact of family history. The Family Assessment has a range of approaches for engaging with and talking to families about their lives together with an emphasis on giving all family members a 'voice'.
A child protection enquiry is made when any agency recieves information that a child may be at risk of harm or is known to have suffered harm. A social worker and a police officer must look into this. The 1989 children act states that it is mandatory for the local authority to make enquiries even if the info is wrong or malicious. The enquiry will be made by speaking to other angencies who may know the family such as primary health services, school etc. Of the Child protection workers are satisfied at this stage there is no futher risk of harm, no furhter action will be taken. If further enquiries need to be made, S/W P/O will contact family. They will always want to see the child and talk to them alone if they are old enough. They will always ask permission from family/child unless under exceptional circumstances. The professionals and the family need to work together for the best outcomes for the child. If at any point S/w p/o are prevented from enquring after child, a decision will be made regarding legal action. The enquiry will end if it has been deicded the child has not been harmed and is not at risk. If it is found that a child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed and there are still concerns, a child protection conference will be arranged to doscuss what has been found out.
The Child Protection Case Conference has been arranged as a result of the Child Protection Inquiry that has just taken place.
After the Child Protection Inquiry the Social Worker involved gave a report to his/her Manager. The Manager decided that there should be a Conference.
The Conference has been arranged because it is felt that there are enough reasons to be concerned that a child could be at risk of significant harm because of abuse or neglect. It allows practitioners to get together to share information about a child and family and to consider whether or not your child is at risk of being abused or neglected. And if he or she is at risk, what can be done to change the situation so that there is no risk?
A Child Protection Case Conference is a multi-agency meeting. This means that it is a meeting organised by the Social Work Service but involves people from other places.The Police and community health doctors are always invited.
The Child Protection Case Conference will be chaired by a Manager from the Social Work Service. It is their job to make sure that everyone is able to contribute their views at the Conference and that everything that needs to be talked about is discussed.
Parents are obliged to attended child protection conferences. They have a right to know what is being and the legal responsibility to look after your child properly and to help you do this you need to know what other people say.
If the child is old enough to understand, they may attend the conference or advocate somebody for them.
What happens at a Child Protection Case Conference?
The Conference will discuss child and family so far as this is relevant to the concerns that have been raised during the Child Protection Inquiry.
The person chairing the meeting will ask people to talk about the child's health and development. In accordance to the assessment triangle.
The last part of the meeting will be when the chairperson asks Social Workers and people from other agencies to say whether they think the child's name should be placed on the Child Protection Register. The chairperson will listen to what they say and then say what the decision is. If a child's name is placed on the Child Protection Register the chairperson will also say what category this will be under. Depending on the circumstances this will be either Physical Abuse, Physical Neglect, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse or Non-Organic Failure to Thrive.
The Chairperson of the Conference will then go on to say what the recommendations of the Conference are.
Finally, if your child's name is placed on the Child Protection Register, the chairperson will make sure that everybody makes an arrangement to meet to draw up a detailed Child Protection Plan.
If your child's name has been placed on the Child Protection Register, there needs to be another meeting within two weeks. This will not be as formal as the Child Protection Case Conference.
The purpose of this meeting is to draw up the Child Protection Plan. The people involved will be yourself along with the key people who know, and have contact with, you and your child.
The Child Protection Plan is a detailed document that says:
what the protection problems are:
what changes people agree need to be made so that your child will not be at risk of significant harm;
how it is planned that these changes will be achieved;
what the plans are for people such as the Social Worker, Health Visitor, etc to visit you and your child and keep a check on your child's health and development whilst he or she is named on the Child Protection Register.
The Child Protection Plan will be reviewed at least every six months. You will be invited to be part of that review.
The Policy-Making Cycle 1. Agency Performance Profile 2. Professional practice 3. Stakeholder satisfaction 4. Community Audit-Inspection Local reform National trends Evaluation-Research Policy shifts Law reform
These populations consume most of the time and energy of social workers and others are often 'hidden populations'.
Criminals and those who perpetrate child abuse have a vested interest in being hidden since if they were detected they would be punished, so they pretend to be normal in the sense of good citizens and good parents and they wear masks. Paedophiles are experts in enticing and entrapping children in such a way that children cannot speak out against someone who may claim to love them, or have a special bond with them, or someone who is threatening them. The hallmark of victimhood is shame and silence; victims of rape and theft often ask the question ' did I deserve this?'; a person needs a certain level of self-esteem before they will ask for help or make a complaint.
Many other minor/minority populations can also be partially hidden. Minors do not have certain citizenship rights and are not consulted in general surveys or census data. So although most children are visible in schools, some remain invisible e.g. child carers of disabled parents were not recognized until the 1990s. Ethnic minorities form approximately 10% of the UK population but in many studies they are almost invisible because they form such a small proportion of the sample particularly in rural areas; nearly half the black and ethnic minority population lives in London but studies in London will not be representative of the wider UK. Some minors and minorities will be illegal populations but they are arguably only 'criminals' on account of being 'victims' e.g. asylum seekers.
Official statistics of crime and child abuse will always underestimate the quantity of criminals/victims on account of concealment. General household surveys only ask adult householders about their income, work, lifestyle, and consequently miss out children's perspectives, homeless people, travellers. Self-report studies are when researchers ask as many people as possible about crimes they may have committed and crimes they may have suffered with a promise of confidentiality. Self organised groups for minorities such as Asian mothers and young carers are a useful source of qualitative research data. But agencies which work with asylum seekers must be careful to protect their service users who may be staying in the country illegally or working illegally.
Research has become central to the regulation and reform of all public sector professionals.
The audit-inspection-review apparatus requires that agencies evaluate their own performance and draw up a profile of inputs-outputs-outcomes on an annual basis. Health and social services agencies must also supply reports on professional practice, stakeholder satisfaction and a profile of the communities they serve. This means that managers of these agencies must have some research background i.e. to gather and decode and display statistical data; to create satisfaction surveys for service users etc.
This results in local reforms since reports have recommendations with action plans. But the government also gets an overview of national trends and compares the performance of agencies and the problems of communities across the country. This means that it can feed into policy-making.
At the same time the government commissions universities to undertake research into specific areas, and politicians also read up research journal articles in relevant areas. It puts all this together when it draws up Green Papers as a precursor to law reform. Once it has changed law and policy, the cycle starts all over again and the audit-inspection apparatus, along with University researchers etc, will be evaluating how far the new law and policy is be implemented and how far it counteracted the problems discovered in the previous cycle.
Audit-inspection reports are usually in the public domain, and summary reports of specific themes are often converted into proper publications available in libraries e.g. inspections of safeguarding children's services. Also there is a 'Messages from research' series in child and family social work as well.
Supervised Contact is ordered by the Courts when there is a medium to high risk to children following family breakdown. It is normally referred by the Family Court, Solicitors, CAFCASS, Social Services or other partner agencies.
We provide supervised contact in a neutral, comfortable environment where children aged 18 and under can meet their parents, or other relatives from whom they are separated.
Our goal is to make supervised contact less stressful, especially for children. We treat everyone involved equally, without ever taking sides. There are currently three self-contained contact suites, each with kitchen and sitting area, as well as a number of toys, books and games for children of all ages.
The principles and aims of the Act include the following:
Children's welfare is paramount.
Children are best brought up within their families wherever possible.
The use of the 'no order ' principle directing local authorities not to become involved unless it is a Child in Need or a Child Protection matter.
The Children Act (1989) and Domestic Violence
Section 120 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 extended the legal definition of harming children to include harm suffered by seeing or hearing ill treatment of others, especially in the home.
This means Children's Services have a duty to assess the impact of domestic violence on the child. It also means the courts will need to know whether domestic violence has occurred before considering any contact. If the court is satisfied that domestic violence has taken place but still orders contact between the parent and child, it will have to explain its reasons why.
The Children Act - Rights and Court Orders
There are a number of issues and court orders covered by the Children Act 1989:
parental responsibility - all mothers automatically have this. All birth fathers married to the mother have this and a father named on the birth certificate for a child born after 2003 also has equal parental responsibility along with the mother.
residence orders - these state who a child will live with.
contact orders - these relate to contact between the non-resident parent and other significant persons (e.g. grandparents and siblings), and the child. The mother can ask the court to stipulate that any contact is supervised.
supervised contact orders - which stipulate that contact must be supervised.
prohibited Steps orders - which prohibit those named in the order from taking certain actions with the child, such as taking them abroad or having unsupervised contact with the child.
Every Child Matters and the Children Act 2004
In 2003, the Government published a green paper called Every Child Matters which informed much of the subsequent Children Act 2004.
Although this Act does not specifically mention domestic violence, it does provide the legislative basis for developing more effective and accessible services focused around the needs of children, young people and families. In short, Every Child Matters is about promoting and safeguarding the well-being of children and young people from birth to age 19.
Over the next few years, every local authority will be working with partner agencies, through Children's Trusts (developed between 2006-2008 in all areas), to find out what works best for children and young people in its area and act accordingly.
Further information is available on the Every Child Matters website, please follow the link under Useful Websites on the right on this page.
Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004
This Act has created a new offence in respect of child deaths - of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult. A person is guilty of such an offence if the child or vulnerable adult dies as a result of an unlawful act and the defendant either was or should have been aware of the risk and failed to take steps to protect them. All members of the household (subject to age and mental capacity) are liable for the offence. The victim in this new offence must have been at risk of serious physical harm, demonstrated by a history of violence towards them or another person in the household.
Key principles of the 1989 Children Act that apply specifically to local authorities in relation to children looked after by them are:
to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare [sec. 22(3)(a)]
make use of services that are available for children cared for by their own parents [sec. 22(3)(b)]
before making any decision about the child, to consult the child, taking into account his or her wishes and feelings [sec. 22(4)], and to give due consideration to his or her wishes, race, culture, religion and linguistic background [sec. 22(5)]
to advise, assist and befriend the child with a view to promoting his or her welfare when ceased to be looked after [Sched. 2, para. 19A]
to advise and befriend young people between the ages of 16 and 21 who are no longer looked after (as well as the power to assist them) [sec. 24A]
to keep the child informed [Sched. 2, para. 1(2)], review the care plan at least every six months [sec. 26], and provide a procedure for making complaints [sec. 26]
to work in partnership with families where reasonable [e.g., sec. 20(7)]
to carry out their responsibilities to children on an inter-agency basis, as a ‘corporate parent’ [sec. 27].