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Getting past obstructive parents is essential when children are at risk

Trying to work with families who won't co-operate is one of the hardest parts of being a social worker. But getting past obstructive parents or carers, whether they are openly hostile, or charming but tell a story that doesn't add up, is absolutely vital when children are at risk, as we explore in this month's cover feature.

An end to adoption delay benefits all concerned

When I became a director of children's services, adoption was new to me. I spent time with social workers and a family court judge, and met several families going through the process. I was forcibly struck by the incongruity between the genuinely good intentions of all the professionals concerned and the lived experience of families and children.

League tables can be a force for good if given more care

League tables appear to be flavour of the month. The Department for Education published local authorities' three-year performance averages for children in care against 15 indicators a fortnight ago. And then children's minister Tim Loughton last week signalled his support for league tables for youth services at the Confederation of Heads of Young People's Services annual convention, which would be scored at least in part by young people.

Asylum policy ignores child welfare

It's a bit much to expect governments to demonstrate consistency. As of last week, under Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, UK Border Agency staff have a duty to consider and promote the welfare of children when exercising their functions. That's a welcome and long-anticipated development.

Parental involvement is not just for mums

Ensuring that fathers play an active role in family life is essential to children's wellbeing. Their involvement can make a big difference to a child's attainment and development. Yet too often in policymaking parenthood equates to motherhood and services are very female-orientated.

Just the job for parents who want to work

Welfare reform is a political hot potato at the moment. The Conservative Party's widely trumpeted Work for Welfare policy paper this month followed hot on the heels of the Department for Work and Pension's Ready for Work strategy, published in December.

Lobbying bill must remove gag on children's charities

When he was leader of the opposition, David Cameron famously proclaimed that lobbying was "the next big scandal waiting to happen". Cue several undercover sting operations where journalists passed themselves off as lobbyists representing commercial interests to expose politicians accepting cash in return for using their political influence. Cameron waited. It happened.

Lightweight guidance puts children's interests at risk

This government's appetite for reducing regulation, prescription and bureaucracy in services for children is well known. Its desire is, to some degree, understandable. Labour in government did over-prescribe, it did over-regulate and it did micro-manage.

Remove adoption barriers but keep the safeguards

Michael Gove has been sending out system-wide messages about his views on adoption. He wantsto increase the numbers of adoptions, while decreasing the time for adoptions to take place, with fewer artificial barriers. Since he himself was adopted at the age of four months, his views carry some weight.

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