The Department for Education has published research on children’s residential homes looking at the characteristics and circumstances of the children, and their short-term outcomes. Findings include: residential homes are normally small (average of six places) with high occupancy rate; most placements were short; homes were comfortable but unnecessarily institutional; and although most children were positive about their experience, they were wary of co-residents and there was inconsistent quality of interactions between staff and residents.
Ofsted has published a report from the Children’s Rights Director on children’s views of leaving care. Findings include: 61% felt their lives were better than if they hadn’t been taken into care; 26% said their lives were worse; 49% said they had been badly prepared for independence; and 46% said they left care too early.
Cumbria Local Safeguarding Children Board has published the executive summary of the serious case review into the death of Child F, who hanged himself at the age of 10. Issues include: several previous suicide attempts; child traumatised by witnessing assault of a friend; bullying; parental alcohol misuse; neglect and emotional abuse; and child mental health issues including depression and ADHD. The case was found to be poorly managed by agencies. Recommendations focus around child centred practice, recognising risk of suicide in children, failure to progress concerns about abuse/neglect, failure to consider FII, and engagement with men.
The University of Central Lancashire has published research from the Family Justice Council evaluating expert witnesses and the quality of reports in the family courts. Findings include: variation in quality of reports; 20% of psychologists acting as expert witnesses are inadequately qualified; and two thirds of reports were below standard.
The Home Office has published a literature review looking at routes of human trafficking into the UK, including whether these routes are the same for adult and child victims. Information is summarised on routes, numbers of people trafficked, characteristics of victims and traffickers, and the drivers, costs and benefits of trafficking.
Children and Young People Now report on a pilot scheme running in three London boroughs which have merged their children’s services departments. The pilot trials a new approach to care proceedings, with a view to speeding up the time it takes for decisions on children’s futures to be made.
The Guardian looks at how some councils’ children’s services are applying the ideas set out in the Munro Review. Examples include: Cornwall has appointed a principal child and family social worker; and Cambridgeshire has adopted a practice model highlighted as good practice in the Munro review.