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Resilience prevails amid Osborne's bleak choices

Like a piercing, bitter English winter, Chancellor George Osbourne's "autumn statement" was eye-wateringly harsh. It is, without doubt, children and young people growing up in the most deprived households who are being asked to bear the brunt.

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.

Unborn babies deserve protection from harm

Does the behaviour of women during pregnancy have a long-term effect on children? This critical question seems difficult to answer because many factors will impact on children's health outcomes such as poverty, housing, childhood diseases and schooling.

Vetting agency must foster responsibility

Keeping children safe from abuse is always a highly charged topic. It is naturally the first priority of most parents. It is vital for children's services departments, since a high-profile child abuse case causes untold damage not just to the child but to the whole service.

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.

A very tall order with a short deadline

Across the country, newly formed local teams are embarking on a colossal exercise. In every area, local authorities have until next month to quantify how many troubled families live in each area and set out how they are going to help them turn their lives around.

Prolonged court delays scar children for life

The biggest intrusion by the state into family life is the removal of a child from its birth parents. So it is absolutely right that the courts should make the final decision, whether it is for a temporary or a permanent arrangement. However, it is paramount that there are proper checks because there are judgments to be made that are not always obvious.

Let's make allowances for the costs of fostering

Almost all of us love our children - even though they are occasionally difficult, temperamental or just obstreperous. We love them for what they are, whether that includes abilities or disabilities, and we would not have it any other way. Of all I have done, I am proudest of my children and what they have achieved - although, of course, it was not just me!

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.

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.

End service barriers to give families a boost

There have been numerous government-sponsored reviews over the past few months: Graham Allen on early intervention, Frank Field on social mobility, Dame Clare Tickell on the early years and Eileen Munro on child protection.

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