Government to pump £200m more into Troubled Families programme

Government to pump £200m more into Troubled Families programme

The government is to spend £200m to expand the Troubled Families programme to a further 400,000 families.

The funding for 2015/16 is designed to enable local services to offer intensive help to 400,000 families who are currently below the threshold for support through the existing Troubled Families scheme.

Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “The Troubled Families programme is a radical example of how, by spending a bit more in certain areas, we can save much more in others and by doing so create a stronger economy and a fairer society.

“Extending this intensive help to 400,000 more families will enable us to tackle problems such as truancy, antisocial behaviour and crime.”

The money will be offered to local services on a payment-by-results basis with central government covering 40 per cent of the cost of working with each family.

Councils and other local agencies will foot the remaining 60 per cent of the bill.

The Department for Communities and Local Government will administer the funding and local agencies will need to produce a “detailed plan” setting out how they will work together and reform services to reduce spending to get the money.

The Treasury said that the programme saves public services money by helping families into work, improving school attendance, and reducing antisocial behaviour and criminality.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said the announcement was “a vote of confidence” in the work councils had done through the existing Troubled Families programme but raised concerns about the funding arrangements.

“Further cuts to local government funding will make it increasingly hard to provide the key services that troubled families will need to access to tackle the challenges they face,” said Merrick Cockell, chairman of the LGA.

“We will be seeking clarification that this £200m is actually additional money and not money redirected from existing local authority budgets. We await the Spending Round announcement on Wednesday for more detail on this.”

The current Troubled Families programme has worked with more than 35,000 families to date and ends in 2015.

Source: CYPNow

UN challenges treatment of asylum-seeking children

UN challenges treatment of asylum-seeking children

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has criticised the way children are treated within the UK asylum process.

A report by the UNHCR accused the system of not adequately considering the “family context” of cases to ensure that children are effectively protected.

The report, which was requested by the Home Office, examined a sample of 2,768 asylum claims made by families in 2011, 14 per cent of the total number of claims that year.

Roland Schilling, the UNHCR’s UK representative, called on the Home Office to make the process more family-focused so that “all members of the family are properly identified, documented and assessed and that appropriate status and rights are bestowed upon individual family members”.

Responding to the report, immigration minister Mark Harper said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and I am pleased that this report notes our progress in dealing with asylum applications for women and children.”

“I am committed to building a better asylum system and we have already started making improvements which have seen cases resolved more quickly, the number of appeals fall and the cost of asylum support reduced by £220m.

“I will consider how the recommendations in the report can help us make further improvements.”

Campaign group the Refugee Children’s Consortium said it is “concerned” by the treatment of children within the asylum process.

Kamena Dorling, the consortium’s co-chair, said: “This important report reveals that families’ asylum claims are not being considered properly in the first place, raising questions about their subsequent treatment as they progress through the asylum system.”

Source: CYPNow

Child porn crackdown needs more money, say charities

Child porn crackdown needs more money, say charities

Children’s charities have welcomed a £1m package of measures aimed at stamping out online child porn but are warning that more money is needed to fight child abuse.

The measures were agreed yesterday at a meeting between culture secretary Maria Miller and some of the UK’s biggest internet and mobile phone firms.

It was agreed that the Internet Watch Foundation, the industry body that lets people report criminal content online anonymously, and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) will work together to seek out, block and remove images of child abuse from the web.

The work is backed with £1m from Virgin Media, BSkyB, BT and Talk Talk.

All the companies at the meeting, including Google and Facebook, also signed up to a “zero tolerance” pledge on images of child sexual abuse.

A NSPCC spokeswoman backed the move, but added: “It’s part of a bigger effort that’s needed, including more police resources and a public education campaign to warn people about the risk they run if they are caught with these images, such as losing their families, homes and jobs.”

The child protection charity also wants to see more investment to strengthen efforts to identify victims in the pictures “so they can get help”.

Ellen Broome, policy director at the Children’s Society, added: “We shouldn’t only focus on stopping access to these images; each one represents the abuse of a child in the real world.

“It is essential that more is done to identify and prosecute the perpetrators of this awful abuse.”

It is estimated that there are one million unique images of child abuse online, but the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which is funded by the internet industry and the EU, only receives 40,000 reports each year.

The extra funding and new link with Ceop will mean that the IWF can take proactive action over images rather than having to wait for them to be reported.

“The IWF and Ceop already do important and valuable work. This agreement will mean these organisations will no longer be limited to reacting to reports received,” said Miller.

“They will now have the remit and the resources to take the fight to the criminals perpetrating these vile acts.”

Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the IWF, said: “This is a great commitment from the UK internet industry. We are ready to step up the fight against online child sexual abuse content.

“By expanding our resources and by allowing the IWF to proactively target child sexual abuse content, we can make real headway towards our shared vision of an internet free of child sexual abuse content.”

Internet companies have also agreed to introduce warnings that will come up when people try to access web pages that have been blocked by the IWF.

Internet service providers have also promised to make parental controls easier to use and companies that offer wi-fi in public places have pledged to offer family-friendly access in places where children are likely to be.

Source: CYPnow

MP seeks to widen legal definition of neglect

MP seeks to widen legal definition of neglect

An MP will today launch a bid to make the emotional and psychological neglect of children a crime

A private member’s bill being tabled by Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams seeks to extend the legal definition of child neglect to include emotional neglect – such as ongoing humiliation.

The present definition only covers physical harm.

“Experts suggest psychological neglect is the most destructive form of abuse, yet the police are powerless to intervene,” said Williams, who is the MP for Ceredigion.

The bill has been drafted by the charity Action for Children and is due to be discussed in parliament on 12 July.

Matthew Downie, head of campaigns and public affairs at the charity, said: “Action for Children has long been leading the campaign to update the law on child neglect.

“The criminal law on child neglect is only appropriate for use in the most severe cases of child neglect, where all efforts have been made to help parents and carers make changes and to keep families together.

“Sadly however, we know that in a small number of cases there are parents who intend to harm their children – and the current law fails to protect children from the full range of that harm.”

The move follows the charity’s Keeping Children Safe report that said the existing laws surrounding neglect were out of date.

Source: CYPnow

Ofsted unveils tougher child protection inspections

Ofsted unveils tougher child protection inspections

Child protection and looked-after children’s services will be deemed ‘inadequate’ even if just part of their work is failing, under plans unveiled by Ofsted to toughen up inspections.

The tougher regime is revealed in a consultation document for joint child protection and looked-after children’s services inspections. It states that Ofsted will give its most damning judgement for overall effectiveness of ‘inadequate’ if councils are found to be ‘inadequate’ in any one of three areas assessed.

These are: the experiences and progress of children in need of protection; the experiences of looked-after children including adoption and support for care leaver services; and the leadership, management and governance of the service.

The consultation document states: “To be judged ‘inadequate’ in any key area means that children and young people are not protected or their welfare is not being promoted.”

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has expressed concerns about how judgements under this new regime will be portrayed in the media.

“It does seem unfair for those working in areas of the service that are performing well to be given this label because one area is underperforming”, said BASW professional officer for England Nushra Mansuri.

“All that will be reported in the media will be the overall label – the good performance going on will not get recognised.”

If approved, the plans will come into force in November. In addition, the judgement of ‘adequate’ would be scrapped and replaced with ‘requires improvement.’

‘Good’ will be the benchmark that all services will need to meet, says Ofsted. The consultation document adds: “We are convinced it is right to emphasise that each child should receive a service from authorities that are good or better and any that are not yet ‘good’ will by definition ‘require improvement’.”

Ofsted is also seeking views on whether the judgements of ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’ are appropriate for judging local safeguarding children’s boards (LSCBs).

Eleanor Schooling, chair of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services’ Standards, Performance and Inspection Policy Committee, said: “While we welcome the added focus on the child’s journey identified in the new framework we have a number of concerns and believe more work needs to be done to make the grade criteria more helpful.

“Local authorities need more than a long, potentially highly aspirational, list of descriptors to assess whether or not a service is good.

“There has to be a more precise and definitive definition of what ‘good’ looks like to avoid a superficial tick box approach if we are to be confident that all children have access to high-quality provision and support.”

Its review comes ahead of expected plans by the Department for Education to introduce legislation allowing Ofsted to inspect the effectiveness of LSCBs.

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said: “This new single inspection will mean Ofsted can inspect the whole system that helps, protects and looks after children. I want those same children to have good lives when they leave the care of the state.”

The decision to bring in joint inspections of looked-after children and child protection services was announced in April, just as plans for multi-agency child protection inspections were shelved following results from pilot sites.

These inspections had been earmarked to come into force this month and would have involved the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons. They were a key recommendation of the Munro review of child protection.

The consultation closes on 12 July.

Source: CYPnow

The Education Secretary is under pressure to explain decision to allow a teacher who had been cautioned for downloading child abuse images to return to work.

The Education Secretary is under pressure to explain why his department signed off on a professional conduct panel’s decision to allow a teacher who had been cautioned for downloading child abuse images to return to work. The teacher was dismissed by his employers in December 2011 after police found nearly 200 illegal images on his computer. However, the conduct panel ruled that he should be allowed to return to teaching as he did ‘not represent a risk to children and young people’.
Source: BBC Online 06 June 2013