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Focus of spending must be balanced

It's official: the UK spends more money on child welfare and education than the average market economy. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report out last week, we spend just over 90,000 per child from birth to 18 compared to an OECD average among 30 member countries of just under 80,000.

Policy into practice - Domestic abuse

The issue: The effects of domestic abuse on young people can be long lasting. More than a quarter experience depression, anger, guilt and low self- esteem later in life. About 750,000 children a year witness abuse at home, according to the Department of Health.

Policy into practice Looked-after children

The issue: Around 60,000 children in England are in care at any one time. Many of them have suffered traumatic experiences, abuse or neglect. The transition to new adult carers in unfamiliar settings can add to their stress without extended families, friends and siblings around to offer support.

The best champions have empathy

The challenge to reach out to disadvantaged families has long been the holy grail of children's services, not least in the take-up of childcare.

The next commissioner needs bite

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has fired the starting gun to recruit a children's commissioner for England to succeed Sir Al Aynsley-Green early next year.

Policy into practice Childhood bereavement

The issue: Over the past few weeks, advertising in shops and the media has reminded us to make a fuss of our dads on Father's Day. However, for many young people 21 June will be a day of sadness, not celebration. Every 22 minutes a child in Britain is bereaved of a parent - this equates to more than 24,000 newly bereaved children every year.

It's time to view care in a positive light

The recent report calling for a renewed focus on the value of children's homes and earlier reception into care for troubled and damaged children and young people, made fascinating reading.

Lame reaction to protection worries

The Children's Secretary has talked a tough game throughout the Baby Peter child protection storm, taking swift action at the outset in commissioning Lord Laming to review child protection arrangements in England.

Policy into practice - Homelessness

THE ISSUE: Having just passed the 10-year anniversary of Labour's commitment to halve the number of children in poverty by 2010, more than a million children in England still live in bad housing, enduring overcrowded, unsanitary or unsafe accommodation.

It's good logic to halve child poverty

The fiscal stimulus, be it tax cuts or increases in government spending, has been all the rage on both sides of the Atlantic, as the boldest way to ride the recession.

The key to Ofsted's rehabilitation

Ofsted has attracted its share of flak in recent months, much of it justified. The verdict of its Annual Performance Assessment of Haringey Council in late 2007 as "good" is now notorious.

Prevention is first line of protection

Lord Laming's report on the state of child protection has injected great urgency in efforts to keep children safe from abuse and neglect. All 58 of his recommendations to improve practice through better procedures, training and lines of accountability have been accepted by the government. The spotlight is on child protection like rarely before.

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