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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.

Cuts could enhance joint working

The party conference season is over and national politics is destined for a surreal few months in the run-up to the general election. Expect plenty more short-term children's policy announcements - some even eye- catching - as the main parties try to outmanoeuvre each other to strike a popular chord. Politics in Westminster will become increasingly sensationalised and polarised.

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.

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.

Editorial: This cycle of hate does children no good

The outburst of vitriol towards social workers emanating from some of the media and online message boards in the wake of Baby P has been comparable in tone to the daily demonisation of young people. They don't need to be repeated here. It is the tone of hate. The Sun newspaper has whipped up a bloodthirsty witch-hunt, inciting readers to sign an online petition for all the Haringey workers involved to be sacked. It's as if identifying and punishing those culpable would somehow resolve the problem and bring closure.

Tory policy still needs some improvements

There is a very real prospect that the next government will be a Conservative one. So it's encouraging that apart from the small matter of a global economic crisis, issues affecting children, young people and families took centre stage at the party's annual conference this week.

Will sanctions or support ward off trouble?

One element of the "triple track" response in the new Youth Taskforce Action Plan is the idea of non-negotiable support. Some will immediately baulk at the concept: surely support has to be wanted to be effective?

Commissioner for Wales is up to the challenge

It was an "exceedingly drawn-out" appointments process, according to one Welsh politician. But Keith Towler came through the interviews, both with young people and politicians, to secure the position of children's commissioner for Wales, just under a year after the untimely death of his predecessor Peter Clarke.

Editorial: Inherent dangers lurk in staying safe plan

With the publication of the Staying Safe Action Plan last week, the government has been at pains not to be seen to wrap children up in cotton wool. In presentation terms, the document's front cover depicts children happily participating in watersports, climbing and running. Meanwhile, the Department for Children, Schools and Families' press notice on the safety plan leads heavily on the proposal to encourage teachers to take pupils on outdoor school trips by providing advice and diminishing bureaucracy.

In my view: A father's forgotten escape from poverty

The penultimate sentence of the follow-up book on the Milltown Boys - my 1980s study of disadvantaged young people on a Cardiff council estate - reads: "Like some of the other children of the more successful boys, their children will have little idea at all about the origins of their grandfathers". Nowhere is this more apposite than in the case of Tony Beech.

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