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About this book

How do you apply the principles, structures and processes of the law to everyday practice? Drawing on a wealth of contemporary case examples, this handy pocket book demystifies the legislation on children in need and demonstrates the practical duties and responsibilities of professionals within both the statutory and voluntary sectors.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
This book discusses the legislation as it relates to children in need of support. It is designed to assist students and practitioners to understand how the legislation and policy governs social work practice with children in need. The College of Social Work in its Curriculum Guide (Braye and Preston-Shoot, 2012) to social work law stipulates that a focus on law should be maintained throughout social work training and not simply located in one module and, as such, this book is designed to be used across social work training and in the immediate post-qualifying professional development phase.
Joanne Westwood

1. The Legal Framework

Abstract
Part I Children Act 1989 starts from the premise that the welfare of children is paramount and cases should only come to court where no other alternative is available. Implicit within the Act is the notion that early intervention can prevent longer-term impact on children’s development and reduce the likelihood of children being removed from the care of their parents. Part III Children Act 1989 instituted the concept of children in need and made provision for their support at local authority level. This chapter discusses the evolving nature of the concept of children in need and also examines how local authorities might and do interpret their duties towards children in need in their area. The difficulties and challenges in assessing and providing support to children in need are discussed drawing on recent research, on case-specific examination, and issues related to quality in assessment practice.
Joanne Westwood

2. Children in Need of Support

Abstract
In some circumstances family problems and issues, such as housing, homelessness and family breakdown, lead to children being in need and this large group of children often remains hidden in official statistics until their needs escalate and they require statutory safeguarding intervention, for example, the s. 47 Children Act 1989 duty to investigate risk of significant harm. This chapter discusses assessments and the guidance which informs them. Because of the differences in how needs are understood and responded to, practice guidance stipulates what an assessment should cover. Local authority threshold criteria can often exclude children from accessing resources and services and so an understanding of the dimensions of need, potential avenues of support and close liaison with other agencies is important. The third (voluntary and community) sector plays an important role in promoting and developing community-based models of support to children in need which support families and work with them in partnership to address their needs outside of statutory services. These services can be provided under s. 17(1) Children Act 1989.
Joanne Westwood

3. Children in Need and Children’s Rights

Abstract
The UNCRC and the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 (ECHR) determine to a great extent how local authorities and the government define and respond to children in the UK. However, the extent to which the Conventions and their Articles inform practice with children in need requires some discussion. Children without parental care, including children who may be living in institutional care or in foster care, are often supported by organizations which campaign for improvements to children’s rights in terms of the services they receive and are entitled to (see, for example, National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS)). Local authorities are duty bound to provide or commission children’s rights services for looked after children. Similarly, children in need have entitlements to rights and this chapter discusses the requirements and duties related to the exercise of children’s rights and the tensions in promoting children’s rights perspectives for children in need and their families.
Joanne Westwood

4. Separated, Unaccompanied and Refugee Children

Abstract
In recent years local authorities have been widely criticized for failing to provide support for separated children and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs), particularly with regard to accommodation and services when they reach 18. In this chapter the issues raised for social workers by the arrival into the UK of separated and unaccompanied children are discussed. The legal status and entitlements of children and young people coming to the UK are often politically charged because of the issues related to their illegal entry. Critiques of government policies towards separated and unaccompanied children coming to the UK suggest that, when it comes to balancing children’s welfare and suspected illegal entry to the UK: ‘the UK government has been overwhelmingly focused on the immigration control aspect’ (Kvittingen, 2010:15).
Joanne Westwood

5. Social Work and Children with Disabilities

Abstract
Children with disabilities are singled out in s. 17(11)(c) Children Act 1989 as being in need. In practice services for disabled children are provided under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (CSDPA) which has a more enforceable duty. The needs of children and their families and carers change over time and, whilst support might be focused on parents when children are very young, and should be multiprofessional, the emphasis will inevitably shift towards a child-centred perspective as children grow older and their needs and development change. This chapter discusses the ways in which families and children with disabilities seek and access support and how these needs change and evolve. This chapter also examines the provisions in the Children Act 1989 for children who have disabilities, together with provisions specific to disability, such as those included in the CSDPA. The particular difficulties in the transition processes of disabled young people to adults’ services and difficulties in supporting parents and carers during this transition are looked at together with some key examples of how legislation and policy have moved towards supporting and empowering families to care for their children and young people with disabilities and the inevitable tensions that are encountered in this.
Joanne Westwood

6. Young People Leaving Care

Abstract
Children are ‘looked after’ in the UK in several ways. They may be accommodated under s. 20 Children Act 1989, a voluntary arrangement, or they may be looked after under a s. 31 Care Order which is made by application to the court. Other orders, under s. 8 Children Act 1989, may determine with whom a child or young person lives. Whichever applies, children will be looked after in foster care, residential care, in detention or secure accommodation, or in respite care. Once children and young people reach the age of 16 in the UK they can legally leave home and this also applies to young people who are looked after. Once young people have left care they remain ‘in need’. Research has consistently identified that young people who leave care are disadvantaged on several measures. Children who come into the care system are not living with their families because illness, poverty or overwhelming problems mean that parents can no longer look after their child.
Joanne Westwood

7. Children Who Display Harmful Sexual Behaviour

Abstract
Up to one-third of sexual abuse referred to statutory agencies is carried out by children and young people. Children who display harmful sexual behaviours and/or abuse other children are likely to be perceived as criminals on the one hand, and also as victims. Research suggests that this group of children needs effective, targeted support and/or treatment and many of them have been victims of some form of abuse themselves (Lovell, 2002) with females more likely to have been sexually abused than males (Hickey et al., 2008). Definitions of what is considered abusive are complex (Masson and Erooga, 2006) and the discussion in this chapter examines the legal perspectives relating to children and young people as laid out in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the support mechanisms which are contained within child care legislation and practice guidance.
Joanne Westwood

8. Conclusion

Abstract
This concluding chapter draws together some of the common themes and issues and makes a plea for social workers in child care and initial assessment teams and those working with children and young people in community and statutory services to assess and recognize that the needs of children and young people change over time, are not constant and often cannot be determined by chronological age. This chapter acknowledges that children and young people are often fully aware of how their needs can be met and children’s rights perspectives which provide for this approach to assessment and provision of support are often the most effective.
Joanne Westwood
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