Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Children’s access to healthy food: The Food Foundation has released a report analysing Public Health England’s (PHE) Eatwell guide, finding that 3.7 million children in the UK live in households for whom a healthy diet is increasingly unaffordable. Families earning less than £15,860 would need to spend 42% of after-housing income on food to meet the costs of the Government’s nutrition guidelines. The report calls for a national measurement of food insecurity in the UK.

Parental responsibility: guidance: The Department for Education has published guidance to help schools and local authorities in England understand and deal with issues relating to parental responsibility as recognised by education law, in particular in situations where parental responsibility can be confusing or unclear.

Young carers: Coram has published an evaluation of the Young carers in schools Programme, a free England-wide initiative delivered by Carers Trust and The Children’s Society aimed at improving the identification and support of young carers in schools.  The published report, A better relationship with learning: an evaluation of the young carers in schools programme, involved an online survey of 103 schools involved in the programme, 14 interviews with schools and other stakeholders, and two focus groups with young carers. Findings include: the introduction of the programme resulted in the identification of an increased number of young carers; 85% of schools reported that young carers were demonstrating increased wellbeing; 83% reported increased happiness and 83% reported increased confidence.

Mental health policy in England: The House of Commons Library has published a briefing on mental health policy in England. The briefing includes reference to services for children and young people.

Children and young people’s mental health networks: UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced the creation of eight mental health networks to bring researchers, charities and other organisations together to address mental health research questions including: health inequalities for people with severe mental ill health; social isolation; youth and student mental health; and domestic and sexual violence.

In the service of youth – making waves in youth work: This year’s Institute for Youth Work conference is taking place in Brighton on the 10th November, it will be an opportunity to both celebrate Youth Work Week and the conference theme: coastal youth work.  The conference is being co-hosted by the University of Brighton, and consequently one of the aims of the conference is to create a short paper on the unique nature of coastal youth work.

Suicide data from the UK and what does this mean for suicide prevention?  The latest data shows that there were 5,821 suicides registered in 2017 in the UK, and the number and rate has decreased for the third year in the row. The decrease has mainly occurred in men, and the picture is different for women with the number of suicides remaining stable. However, men still account for three quarters of all suicides. Also, rates are not uniformly decreasing for all groups of men; rates in some age groups are increasing, for example men aged 45-49.

Working together to safeguard children: statutory guidance myth busting

The Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme has published guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) to clarify to relevant parts of the English statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018.  They discovered that some parts of the guidance acted as a barrier to good practice and outcomes for children and families and can be made clearer, e.g. making it clear that family assessments of risk of harm faced by children are permissible as long as the unique needs of individual children are considered.

Topics covered include: individual child assessments; return home interviews; social workers for foster carers and children with long term foster placements; social workers for children in staying put; frequency of visits for social workers; and fostering and adoption panels.

The responses have been agreed by the Department for Education and their lawyers in consultation with Ofsted.

Children in care need long-term support

Children in care need long-term support

 writing from his own personal experience argues that, too often, young in care are simply contained and criminalised. If a permanent home can’t be found, then having a mentor would make a huge difference to young people’s lives.

Lord Laming’s review for the Prison Reform Trust has found that children in care are six times more likely to be cautioned by police or convicted of a crime than others of the same age. It is a national shame that we allow these young people to fill young offender institutions and prisons after spending so much money “taking care” of them throughout their childhoods.

Unlike in your average family home, kids in care are regularly criminalised by those caring for them: police are called out for incidents that happen to many teenagers but especially those who are harbouring pain and hurt from family breakdown, and exposure to violence and abuse. As a result children and teenagers are getting criminal records for throwing plates and smashing up their rooms, and other actions often regarded as domestic by the police called out to help manage such behaviour. But to the child in care, it’s often their first contact with the criminal justice system.

In my children’s home the police were regular visitors. I had police called on me for breaking windows, getting caught sniffing glue and fighting with other kids. By the time I was living independently at 15, I was well known to both probation and the police.

My argument has always been that if we got care right more often, lots of money could be saved – and lives too. But the problem with care is that too often it feels like we are just containing these kids. With so many moving between foster families, they often have no consistent positive adult in their lives. I have met kids who have had three social workers and eight foster placements, which often include school moves too. They have no one to walk alongside them as they navigate their life over a long period, no one to take a real interest in their long-term wellbeing.

Go check out the full article.

Children’s Services cuts could be dangerous

Children’s Services cuts could be dangerous

Here’s a brief interview I did with BBC Radio Solent this morning on the issue of Children’s Services cuts:

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Getting stuck between social care and CAMHS

young_person

The UK has a world-class public sector, education is good, and the NHS is outstanding. But one area that consistently seems to let young people down is those who get stuck in-between social care and Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

 

In our austerity climate there have been cuts to both children’s social and the CAMHS service. In addition both services are locally using more agency staff to cover the current gaps they have within their teams. This certainly provides a lack of consistency for young people and their families, but I believe that the problem is not solved by more money, and capacity staffing. Simply pouring additional resource into a dysfunctional system would not automatically produce the best results for our vulnerable children and young people. Instead it is time to consider a radical overhaul of how, when and by whom child protection and statutory mental health services are provided.

 

Too often when a child is suspected of having mental health concerns such as depression, suicide, ADHD, on the ASD spectrum then social care, often believe it is the responsibility of CAMHS to take the lead with the family. Yet CAMHS, often rightly, will point out that whilst the mental health concerns has a significant impact there are other major factors at play in the life of the young person. Instead of two agencies working together to support a young person and their family they spend their time blaming cuts on the lack of staff and resources and spend meetings with other professionals passing the buck as to why they can not help the young person.

 

All this does is lead to a situation where a young person who is on the border of a Tier 2 to 3 threshold is propelled to the top end of Tier 3 if not into Tier 4 as no agency takes responsibility to support and invest in the young person and their family.

 

I can think of several families that I’ve worked with for whom this tension between social care and CAMHS has actually worsened the situation, and certainly not helped the young person.

 

I sit in meetings where I want to stop and shout: “Enough is enough!” Surely we can find a way to do something between us to support this young person and their family.

 

As is often the case though in a large organisation the staff at the meetings don’t have the power to be able to change the situation – what we need is county managers and health commissioners working together for the benefit of young people and their families and enabling their staff to do the same.

How to partner in youth work with social services

partnership

With Youth Services having been decimated across the country, Social Services or Children’s Services are feeling an ever increasing strain.  The Church has an important opportunity to work together with these statutory agencies to provide better services for the local community.

Children’s Services are responsible for dealing with concerns for child welfare, fostering, adoption, children with special needs, and general child and education related enquiries.  Most social workers have between 35-50 cases at any one time, with a huge amount of visits, meetings with other professionals, and detailed reports that are linked to each case. This is only getting worse with lowering of staff morale and cuts to key services.

Here are three simple ways that you can work better with Social Services:

  1. Understand their thresholds: no one expects you to have the knowledge of a social worker – you’re a youth worker – but you can start developing your understanding of where you can work together with the statutory agencies by understanding what are the thresholds for access to their services.  For example, these are the thresholds that my local authority use.
  2. Visit their team meeting: speak to one of the area manager’s and ask if you and the other church youth workers from the area can present the services that you provide.  Often social workers are looking for positive activities to be able to refer young people and their families to.  You can help them to understand what voluntary or third sector services are available in your area.
  3. Play an active part in meetings: whenever you have the opportunity to attend a Child Protection or Looked After Child case meeting I thoroughly recommend you go.  The support you can show not just other professionals, but the young person and their family will earn you huge amounts of respect.  It is important that you play an active part in the meeting – one of the most effective ways is to ensure where appropriate you present a report on your links with the young person and family – this puts you on a level par with education, health and other professional areas.

Too often partnership fails to happen because we as the Church are scared by what is involved rather than social workers not wanting to partner with the church.  You have a chance to change that in your community.

What are the best ways you’ve found to link with social or children’s services in your area?