FRIDAY 2 MARCH
UK: Teenage pregnancy rates
slashed across county
A CRACKDOWN on teenage pregnancy in North Yorkshire has seen rates fall to their lowest level in 14 years. Figures have revealed that the number of under-18s who have fallen pregnant has dropped by nearly 44 per cent since the county council began its reduction strategy in 1998. This puts the county well above the national reduction of 24 per cent - with the rate in Selby alone falling by over 60 per cent. Figures also showed the under-16 rate has fallen by nearly 26 per cent since 1998, compared to a national reduction of 7.5 per cent. The authority’s Children and Young People Service says the figures reflect its targeted work and multi-agency approach to slashing teenage pregnancy rates. Scarborough has been higlighted as a particular success where rates between 2009 and 2010 fell by over 17 per cent. Before the clamp down teenage pregnancy rates in the seaside resort were significantly higher than the national average.
Overcrowding could lead to forced
closure of Oklahoma City children's shelter
A state fire marshal's inspector is recommending that a DHS shelter for abused and neglected children in Oklahoma City be forced to close if persistent overcrowding problems cannot be resolved. The fire inspector visited the Pauline E. Mayer Children's Shelter on Tuesday in response to a complaint and found 49 children in the facility that has a licensed capacity of 48. “This facility has shown a history of overcrowding,” the inspector reported. “If the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth is unable to enforce and/or correct this issue, it is the recommendation of this agent to seek a closure order from the attorney general's office.” The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth is an independent oversight state agency that monitors child services programs. It inspects and licenses the shelter, which is operated by the state Department of Human Services.
UK: Identify gifted children to
reduce reoffending, justice staff told
Staff working with young offenders must be trained to identify gifted children to prevent cycles of reoffending, according to the National Association of Gifted Children. According to the association’s report Releasing Potential, children who have the potential to achieve exceptionally well in a range of subjects, can display challenging behaviour, experience boredom and refuse to work or underachieve. The report also notes that one in six gifted children has a learning disability that can mask their learning potential. For the research a questionnaire was sent to all secure children’s homes in the UK and one home was visited and education sessions observed. The study found that each secure unit uses its own educational assessments for young people, making it difficult to compare records. The assessments were also largely focused on verbal assessments and only examine young people willing to take part.
New Zealand: Mayor calls for
youth to have their say
Mayor Ray Wallace says results from the youth survey launched today will help improve the way council and other agencies communicate with young people in the Hutt. “One of the issues that came out of our first youth survey in 2010 was local young people often didn’t know where to go for help and information. “This year we have teamed up with the Ministry of Youth Development to find out how to make help and information more accessible and we want to hear from young people how best to do that,” he says. The survey, open to 12 to 24 year olds, asks a mixture of multi-choice and open questions such as ‘Where do you go or who do you talk to for help or advice?’ and ‘How do you prefer to receive information?’. Focus groups will also be held with young people across the city. Mayor Wallace says the results will also help shape the development of council’s future Children and Young People’s Plan which will guide council’s support of children and youth in Hutt City .
Ireland: Funding cuts will
decimate local youth projects
The cancellation of summer youth projects catering for up to 150 of these teenagers is already under consideration, following last week’s announcement of another blanket cut to the budget of Waterford’s 9 Special Projects for Youth Scheme (SPY), which targets young people who are disadvantaged due to a combination of factors e.g., social isolation, substance misuse, homelessness, early school leaving and unemployment. Despite promises by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Ftizgerald to the contrary, the sector has just been informed of a 6.5% cut to this year’s funding allocation; cumulatively, it will amount to a 21% reduction in funds over the past 3 years. By the time the full impact of these cuts filters down to local level, vital services and supports to the city’s young population will have been cut back, with groups and activities disappearing as a result. Kevin Power, Manor St John Youth Services, said Waterford’s youth services managers are at the end of their tether trying to make ends meet as it is.
Youth Suicide Rates Decrease
After Entrance Into Canadian Foster Care
In order to determine if suicide rates decrease or increase after entrance into Canadian foster care, Laurence Y. Katz, of the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy led a study comparing suicide rates of children who received care between 1997 and 2006 to those of children who were not in foster care. Using data from more than 8,000 children ranging in age from 5 to 17, Katz found that 2 years prior to being placed in care, future foster children were more likely to commit suicide, attempt suicide, or be hospitalized than the general population. However, the results showed that these rates decreased after the children had been placed into care. The most significant decreases in these rates were found in the children with diagnosed psychiatric problems. Katz believes this could be that the children with psychiatric issues were exposed to elevated stress levels in their homes of origin, resulting from their parents’ incapacity to emotionally or physically manage the existing psychiatric problem. Overall, foster care, which is often maligned for underserving youth, appears to be beneficial to this at-risk segment of the population. Katz added, “These findings indicate the need for further research in this area, the results of which have important policy implications for governments and agencies with the responsibility to optimize services for this vulnerable population.”
UK: £22m boost for child mental
The government has pledged an extra £22m to increase the availability of talking therapies to children and young people with mental health problems. Last year the government pledged £32m to extend the improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) programme to children and young people over the next four years. The initiative had previously only been available to adults. The additional £22m funding for children and young people’s IAPT will be spent on making a wider range of psychological therapies available to more young people with mental health problems, including eating disorders, depression, self-harm and conduct issues related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Australia: Carers to lose half
FOSTER carer Kathy Astill has been told to expect a pay cut of 50per cent and to lose access to respite care and support services in a statewide shake up of out-of-home care.
The single 53-year-old is ‘‘gobsmacked’’ by the news and unsure how she will survive without the current level of support. ‘‘I don’t work, I’m a foster mother,’’ Ms Astill said. ‘‘I’ve worked really hard to get my boys back into a good place, mentally and physically. ‘‘They are very scarred children. My eldest one can remember a lot of things that have happened to him. It’s a full-time job.’’ There has been a 15per cent spike in placement breakdowns with her agency since the changes were announced a week ago, and there would be more to come, she said. The state government, which oversees more than 16,000 children in out-of-home care, is in the process of transferring all out-of-home care services to non-government organisations.
UK: Good grades for childrens'
Children are well looked after by Merton Council, Government inspectors have found. The authority's efforts to safeguard children and its work with those in care scored a good rating in all categories in a report released on Friday. Ofsted inspectors praised strengths including "a strong culture of safeguarding children and young people" among council teams, as well as anti-bullying programmes in schools. They also praised partnership work with other public agencies like health trusts and the police - including strategies to protect children at risk of exploitation or trafficking. The report made 10 recommendations for improvements - including better communication with the parents of young people. The report made 10 recommendations for improvements - including better communication with the parents of young people.
WEDNESDAY 29 FEBRUARY
Concussions hit teens worse than adults, young
Teenagers between 13 and 16 years of age suffer greater effects from a concussion than younger children or adults, new Canadian research suggests. As a result, far greater care needs to be taken with adolescents who show signs of being concussed, says Dave Ellemberg, a Universite de Montreal neuropsychologist who conducted a two-year study on the effects of concussions in young people. This was the first study that compared children ages nine to 12, adolescents ages 13 to 16 and young adults in their early 20s specifically in terms of the effects of concussions. The study looked at athletes involved in contact sports, such as soccer, hockey and football, half of whom had suffered a concussion half of whom had not. "Concussions are as common in youth athletes as they are in adults. We think that about one in five athletes have a concussion per season," said Ellemberg.
New Jersey DYFS to get new name
and new mission, commissioner says
The state child welfare agency is not only getting a new name, but also a narrower mission that could include farming out some of its duties to nonprofit groups after nearly a decade of tremendous change and growth in spending and staff. Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake said she is considering whether community organizations can do a better job working with low-risk families than the Division of Youth and Family Services, which she announced last week will be renamed the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. "I don’t want to say privatization because I am not there yet, and neither is the administration. I am really still engaged in the exploration of this," Blake said in a brief interview Friday. If Blake privatizes any child welfare responsibilities, she would likely encounter a fight from state employee unions, as well as questions about whether an agency in the middle of a court-supervised overhaul that has cost the state more than $1 billion should make any dramatic changes. Reaction to a possible change was mixed.
Canada: 'Obesity epidemic'
Obesity among the nation's children has reached historic highs, with diseases once associated with the middle-aged now affecting teen-agers and young adults, Canada's top doctor warned Monday. "Canada is facing an obesity epidemic. Never in our nation's history have the overweight and obesity rates in children been this high," Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's chief public health officer, said at a national summit in Ottawa Monday on the childhood obesity crisis. "The risk is that this will be the first generation of children not to live as long or as healthy as their parents. "That indeed is a great tragedy. "We didn't get this way overnight. It won't be overnight that we get out of it - and it isn't a single solution."
Ireland: Barnados calls for
The CEO of the children's charity Barnardos has said pooling resources and creating 'community hubs' is the best way to deliver services effectively to children and families in communities. Barnardos' conference 'Children at the Centre: The Future for Child Welfare and Protection in Ireland' has been taking place at Croke Park in Dublin this morning. The charity is putting forward its idea of how the government's planned Child and Family Support Agency might work. Barnardos says services including pre and antenatal care, public health nursing, schools and family planning agencies should all work together in local 'community hubs' to deliver services for children and families, and help prevent vulnerable children falling through the gaps. At the conference today CEO of Barnardos Fergus Finlay said as the state sector is scheduled to lose thousands of workers, and the voluntary and community sectors are squeezed financially and will also lose thousands of jobs, the best way to do more for less resources is to work together.
UK: Tavistock service for
vulnerable children at risk, expert warns
The Tavistock’s Monroe Assessment Service provides treatment for families going through care proceedings and assesses many children subjected to sexual and physical abuse or neglect. But a new cap on the amount of funding these expert court witnesses receive has left the prestigious service operating at a loss, and many families without adequate support, a consultant social worker has warned. Tim Kent said: “We are seeing the highest number of applications for care orders in the family courts for a decade, but the work of expert witnesses has been hit by savage cuts. “Cases are getting stuck in the legal system and children’s lives are on hold for longer. We fear that the risk of courts making bad decisions about the best interests of the child is growing. “If we have learned anything from the deaths of Baby Peter, Victoria Climbie, and too many others it’s that in a caring society every child is every adult’s responsibility.”
Australia: NEST Project to Focus
on Children’s Wellbeing
A new project has been launched to focus Australia’s national investment on what works for the wellbeing of children and youth via a high-level Not for Profit alliance. Initiated by the Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth (ARACY) and in collaboration with Bupa Health Foundation, The Nest is an independent project to improve the wellbeing and life opportunities of young Australians by building a national plan for coordinated action. ARACY says it’s the first time an integrated child and youth wellbeing plan has been developed with endorsement from across the sector. “People are usually shocked to discover that, internationally, Australia is only a middle-ranked country when it comes to the health and wellbeing of our young people,” ARACY chief executive Dr Lance Emerson said. “And that’s despite a lot of money being spent with good intentions. We, at ARACY, along with an alliance of most of the significant players in this field, feel it’s time for our efforts to be expended on what works, for duplication to be minimised, and for scarce resources to be coordinated on young people, families and places where they will be most effective.”
UK: Rise in children from London
boroughs placed in care in Kent
Social services chiefs have called for legislation to halt London councils using Kent as a dumping ground for children in care. It comes after figures were released suggested the numbers are continuing to rise. More than 1,300 youngsters are being looked after in Kent having been placed here by other authorities, according to Kent County Council. That figure is marginally higher than a year ago - despite London councils signing a voluntary agreement negotiated by KCC that they would not place vulnerable children any further than 20 miles away. But the data suggests that London boroughs have ignored the agreement and are continuing to send scores of vulnerable children into the county, with Thanet remaining the area under most pressure. Of the estimated 1,340 children placed in Kent from elsewhere, 234 are in Thanet, followed by Swale with 222 and Canterbury with 154. Roughly half of all looked-after children now come from outside Kent and the figure has doubled since 2007.
Teenage girls in Cork care home
still feel ‘unsafe’ – report
A NEW REPORT prepared by the health watchdog has revealed that children detained in a special care unit in county Cork feel unsafe because of bullying and assaults by other residents. Inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Association (HIQA) heard during interviews with the teenage girls that there are still occasions where they feel unsafe because of incidents of alleged bullying, targeting and assaults. This remains unacceptable, they said. The report, published today, on the secure residential unit in Glanmire was a follow-up to an inspection in October 2011 which found the facility in a “state of crisis”. HIQA found that a poor standard of management impacted negatively on the delivery of care to the children living in the unit. After making a series of recommendations, a second inspection was carried out between 11 and 12 January 2012.
MONDAY 27 FEBRUARY
Philippines: Summer classes
offered for out-of-school children, youth
THE Department of Education (DepEd) has invited out-of-school children and youth to attend summer classes where lessons are delivered in an alternative mode using learning-friendly teaching strategies. Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the alternative delivery mode (ADM) summer program aims to provide more inclusive approaches and wider strategies to address concerns on access and quality of education in elementary and secondary levels in the country today. “We are calling on children and youth who have not been to school to attend this summer class which was specifically designed for them. This caters to all youths regardless of gender, physical, intellectual, social condition, and linguistic background, including high school drop-outs,” added Luistro. “We are already preparing the modified in-school, out-of-school approach or Misosa modules for elementary and the open high school program for secondary students,” he added.
Tennessee: Youth Villages reports
urgent need for foster parents
Youth Villages is looking for caring people in Dyersburg and the surrounding counties to become foster parents to children who have suffered abuse, neglect, abandonment or other issues and need a home. These children need families who will care for them until they can return to their birth families or an adoptive family is found for them. If the children become available for adoption, foster parents often have the first right to adopt, and adoption through Youth Villages is free. Youth Villages' foster parents receive a monthly stipend to help them offset the costs of adding a child to their household.
Child Welfare League of America’s
(CWLA) National Conference
Convenes February 26
CWLA’s National Conference will kick off on Sunday February 26 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel, Arlington, VA. This year’s conference theme, “Making Children a Priority: Leading Change” calls on everyone to lead the charge to make children a priority. CWLA’s annual conference will confirm its campaign for bold investments that advance the knowledge, innovation, and cross-sector collaboration needed to improve our nation’s capacity to support America’s vulnerable children – from cradle to career. This comprehensive conference will feature dynamic keynote speakers, workshops and shared learning opportunities highlighting critical policy issues and the latest-research based best practices. Special Sessions will examine Community Partnerships, Trauma and Secondary Trauma, Leadership and the Current Economy, Outcomes Evaluation, Immigrant Families, Indian Child Welfare, and Health in Child Welfare.
Pennsylvania: Dauphin County
starts new program to help endangered children
Keeping a relatively minor problem from growing into one that could leave a child neglected or seriously abused is the goal of a new program announced by the Dauphin County Victim’s Witness Assistance Program. Each year there are about 100 cases in Dauphin County where a parent may be endangering a child but there is not enough evidence for Children and Youth Services to make a formal finding of fact. Instead of these case falling through the cracks of the system there is now a new program that will be ordered by the court in lieu of that parent going to trial. The key goal is to make sure these low level offenders are better able to take care of their children, they don't return to the criminal justice system and most importantly to make sure that no child is neglected, or abused and ultimately to save children's lives.
UK: Kids forced to sell sex for
The Children's Society warned today that vulnerable refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant kids and youth are being left homeless and destitute —- forcing them to turn to prostitution in order to survive. The charity revealed that some young people suffered from mental health problems and even attempted suicides. while others had been forced into "sexual relationships" in exchange for shelter or food. Refugee families with very young children were living in severe deprivation for long periods of times —- in some cases for years - because of draconian immigration rules that denies them access to work or welfare support. The charity said it had seen a "noticeable rise" in the number of children and young people seeking its help. Between April and September last year, around 34 per cent of young refugees supported by the charity's new Londoners project were destitute - compared with 14 per cent in the previous year.
Missouri: St. Charles-based Youth
In Need names successor to retiring CEO
Youth In Need has selected Patricia Holterman-Hommes to succeed Jim Braun as president and chief executive officer when Braun retires at the end of this year. The St. Charles-based agency provides crisis intervention and prevention services to thousands of at-risk children, youth and families in eastern and central Missouri. Braun, who has led Youth In Need since 1988, told the agency's board of directors at the beginning of 2011 of his plans to retire, according to a news release. He will continue with Youth In Need as a consultant until July 1, 2013, to help complete the transition. The board on Feb. 15 approved the selection of Holterman-Hommes, who has worked for Youth In Need for 23 years and served as chief program officer since 2008. "Pat has a deep understanding of the mission and strategic vision of Youth In Need as well as exceptional proficiency in serving at-risk kids and families and communicating our values to staff, board members and our many stakeholders in the community," Braun said in the agency's release.
Arizona: Respect the problem
Reforming Arizona's child-welfare system has to start with a healthy respect for the enormity of the problem and the complexity of the responsibility the state takes on when it steps into the lives of children and their families. That means you cannot frame the debate solely as an issue of one broken state agency that needs to be fixed. Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to reform Arizona's Child Protective Services. What's been missing is long-term public attention. Reforms will not succeed unless the public and public servants keep their focus. There is no one magic solution that will "fix" CPS so that no more children die. But sustained attention to this problem can result in reforms that are monitored and adjusted for continued improvement. This is not solely a money problem. Yet it is a cruel joke to pretend that an agency that has long struggled to do a big job with too few workers and antiquated equipment can be substantially improved without an infusion of cash. What's more, Arizonans need to consider the scope of what's going on -- and the consequences of not respecting the full scope of this challenge.
UK: Mother could face jail
because her children talked to each other
Sometime this week, in a case which promises to make legal history, a mother may be sent to prison, apparently because her teenage children – two of whom are in foster care for reasons which, I am told, had nothing to do with her treatment of them – have been chatting to each other on Facebook. This landmark case, which says much about the surreal state of our family protection system, arose from a judicial order last year that the mother must not talk to her children on Facebook, even through “a third party”. The two girls were taken into care a few years back for their own protection, I am told, not because of any actions by their mother but because their safety had been threatened by members of a gang on the inner-city council estate where they lived. After being sent to a foster home in another part of the country, they eventually managed to make contact through Facebook with their brothers and a cousin, all of whom are still living with their mother in the family home. Once contact had been established between the younger members of the family, the mother joined in – until this came to the notice of social workers in the city where the family originally lived.
New training program started for
Southwest Florida foster, adoptive parents
This week, the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida, which runs the local foster care system, introduced a new training called PRIDE, Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education, for its foster and adoptive parents. The program was developed through project initiated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Child Welfare League of America. The program is based on the philosophy that family life is valuable for children and that foster and adoptive parents are integral to providing quality services. The University of South Florida certified 26 employees from the Children’s Network and its providers as trainers of this new curriculum. “It is built on the principle of family fostering, the partnership between the biological family and the foster family working towards safely reunifying children with their families whenever possible,” said David Brown, director of programs for the network.
UK: Care children given 'little
notice of placement moves'
More than half of children in care are given a week's notice or less of being moved to another foster home, research suggests. Nearly a quarter are given no notice at all, suggests the survey of 2,000 children for England's Children's Rights Director Roger Morgan. Three-quarters of those in care with siblings reported they had been separated into different placements. Ministers say they want to improve the experiences of children in care. The figures come from the annual Children's Care Monitor, which gives an insight into children's experiences of the care system and is published by Mr Morgan. It suggests little consideration is given to children's feelings when they are switched between placements. More than half (57%) say they were given no choice of placement the last time they were moved. And the average number of times children move between foster homes or other care placements has risen from four in 2010 to five in 2011.
FRIDAY 24 FEBRUARY
Australia: Fears 75 DHS jobs may
be cut in Ballarat putting kids at risk
A BALLARAT welfare agency is concerned public service job cuts in the human services sector could lead to high-risk children being placed in life-threatening situations. The comments follow union claims that 75 jobs could be slashed in Ballarat from the Department of Human Services. The department is responsible for child and family services, youth justice, public housing, disability services as well as women and youth. A DHS spokesperson confirmed the department would remove around 500 full-time jobs across the state but did not give any details of where the cuts would be implemented. However, she said there would be no reduction in frontline workers. UnitingCare chief executive Cliff Barclay said the cuts would affect service delivery in Ballarat.
UK: Youth crime service awarded
A SERVICE that helps young people to steer away from a life of crime has been awarded top marks in a recent inspection. The HM Inspectorate of Probation gave Redbridge Council’s Youth Offending Service (YOS) an 80 per cent mark for its work safeguarding young offenders, 83 per cent for its work to prevent them reoffending and 69 per cent for its work to help protect the public. The service is made up of social workers, youth workers, police officers and education specialists who work with offenders aged 18 and under to help them change their attitudes and behaviour and move away from a life of crime. In her report Liz Calderban, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, said, ”We found the YOS staff group and managers to be enthusiastic and committed to delivering high quality services to children and young people.
Tennessee: Budget Cuts Could
Affect Foster Care
Many are concerned that children in foster care could suffer if the budget of a million dollar program is slashed. The program is called Children's Outcome Review Team or C-Port for short. Currently budget plans call for 19 people in that department to lose their jobs. "There will be no independent review of children in custody, to really insure services are being provided, that they are getting the kind of support they need to be safe, to move to permanency," said Linda O'Neal with the Commission on Children and Youth. O'Neal testified before state lawmakers on Wednesday making her case for why $1.5 million in cuts just should not happen. She told legislators if this program goes there will be no other service or program out there to pick up, where C-Port left off.
New Zealand: Coroner says child
agencies must talk
A coroner investigating the death of toddler Hail-Sage McClutchie says information-sharing between government agencies needs to improve to protect children at risk of abuse. But the chief social worker for Child, Youth and Family says privacy laws are hampering its efforts to work with other Crown agencies. Hail-Sage normally lived in the care of her grandmother Delia Percy in Hamilton but spent the last 10 days of of her life in Morrinsville with her mother, Kelly Percy, and stepfather, Adrian Wilson-Minimita. The 22-month-old had suffered a number of falls while in their care and had been vomiting for five days, but neither sought medical attention for her until she had a seizure and was admitted to Waikato Hospital. A post-mortem examination revealed that she died of a traumatic brain injury in September 2009.
Arizona: Positive Environments
for At-Risk Young Children
The importance of positive early environments on developmental outcomes for children living in poverty is clear. Understanding how to help parents help their children acquire positive developmental skills is emerging, according to Harvard Medical School associate professor Catherine C. Ayoub, RN, Ed.D., who is the guest speaker at an event hosted by the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families at the University of Arizona (UA). Open to the public, the free presentation is Fri., Feb. 24, 2012 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. at the John and Doris Norton School Family and Consumer Sciences on the UA campus, 650 N. Park Ave., Rm. 103. A reception will follow in the lobby. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org Dr. Ayoub’s UA presentation is part of the McClelland Institute’s Pamela J. Turbeville Speaker Series that in 2012 is highlighting the Institute’s Early Childhood Initiative, which focuses on prevention, early intervention, risk and resilience in young children (ages birth to five).
California: Charity in financial
crunch, appeals to community for help
A financially crunched local charity is fighting the possibility of closing its doors as it pleads for a cash boost from the province and appeals for community support like never before. South Shore Big Brothers Big Sisters wants the Dexter government to up the annual grant it gives to the organization, which runs children and youth services programs in Lunenburg and Queens counties. There hasn't been a raise in the $22,000 annual grant in more than 20 years. Other Big Brothers Big Sisters charities in other communities have joined the crusade for similar increases. The agency also wants $25,000 from the province to pay off a line of credit which is currently maxed out. The bank loan serves as a form of safety net to allow the charity to operate between staple fundraisers, such as the annual bowling, curling and golf tournaments. But, for whatever reason - economic climate, wide field of charities to donate to - proceeds from those campaigns have collectively dropped off. John Collyer, president of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters board, estimates the organization spends 80 per cent of its time fundraising in order to keep its doors open. It has received an advance of half of next year's provincial grant to help the bottom line. "We're at a point financially that we may be able to scrape through the next couple of months," he said from the agency's Dufferin Street office. "Even if we somehow get through the year, we've maxed out our credit," he added.
Florida: Foster parent has cared
for more than 100 children
For 38 years, the state of Florida has relied on Jackie Swain to accept children removed from troubled families into her Sarasota home. "I befriended a young lady who needed a place to stay," Swain said, remembering how her long tenure as a foster parent started. Since then, Swain has provided comfort and shelter to more than 100 children in state custody. "They stay until their parents are stable," Swain said. "Our job is to keep them safe until they can get home." During a Black History Month ceremony on Tuesday, the Sarasota office of the Florida Department of Children and Families gave special recognition to Swain and two other area residents involved in foster care. More than 300 children in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties are currently in foster care.
Australia: Inquiry investigates
rate of child suicide in NT
Northern Territory leaders are warning that silence is no longer an option to deal with the rising rates of child suicide. Suicide statistics are often difficult to pinpoint because deaths can be classified in different ways, but researchers say the number of teenagers and young children dying from suicide is growing. Northern Territory Children's Commissioner Howard Bath says his jurisdiction may have the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world. "The suicide rate for children and young people, for example, in NSW, seems to be about one per 100,000 and the data in the Northern Territory suggests the rate might be as high as 18 per 100,000 within the Northern Territory," he told ABC1's 7.30. "When we consider that the vast majority of those young people are Aboriginal young people, the rate within the Indigenous community approaches 30 per 100,000." Professor Sven Silburn, from the Menzies School of Health Research, says the age of children taking their own lives is particularly concerning.
New Mexicodetention officer fired
for slapping youth offender
A man who was incarcerated for assault as a teenager found work in the juvenile justice system as an adult, a youth care specialist at the Youth Diagnostic and Detention Center in Albuquerque. But that all came to an end Saturday night, as Eddie Pablo Aragon, 29, allegedly held an incarcerated 14-year-old boy down by the neck, then punched the teen in the face. He was arrested Sunday on charges of child abuse. Aragon, who was still on the six-month probation for new employees, was fired immediately by the state Children Youth and Families Department, which operates the facility, said spokesman Enrique C. Knell. At about 7:15 p.m. Saturday, a supervisor heard commotion from an area of YDDC, according to the arrest warrant. Aragon was there and yelled at the teens to be quiet, then rushed into one teen's room. The supervisor followed Aragon into the room, where he saw Aragon grab the teen by the neck and pin him to the bed. The supervisor pushed Aragon off the teen, but when the teen sat up, Aragon struck the boy's face with a closed fist, according to the complaint.
There's no evidence the teen was being violent or making a disturbance other than being loud, and it's unknown what could have prompted the altercation, Knell said. When it was over, the supervisor escorted Aragon from the room and called in State Police to investigate the incident. Aragon then left YDDC.
UK: Leeds City Council faces big
rise in bill for foster care
The amount Leeds City Council pays to independent fostering agencies to look after children for which it is responsible is expected to more than double to £12.4m over the next 12 months. Now the council is facing calls to increase the sums it gives to in-house foster carers in a bid to boost recruitment and retention and cut the soaring bills for external placements. Liberal Democrat councillors argue the flow of carers away from the council and into private fostering agencies is increasing and want action to stem the tide. They say it costs the council £300 more per week to use an agency rather than an in-house carer. The number of Leeds children fostered privately now stands at 281 – up from 143 in March 2010. About 700 youngsters are fostered by the in-house service. Foster carers in Leeds are currently paid weekly allowances of between £111 and £195, depending on the age of the child, with no rises proposed for 2012-13.
WEDNESDAY 22 FEBRUARY
New Zealand: Spotlight turned on
North's shocking child poverty
Northland's shocking poverty levels have been highlighted by the Salvation Army's state of the nation report, which warns of a permanent and dangerous fracture in society if more is not done to help the country's poor. The report emphasises the gulf between the rich and poor, high rates of child poverty and youth unemployment, and rising national debt. The Salvation Army's Whangarei office expects another tough year, with more people seeking food parcels last month compare to the same month last year. Director of community ministries Peter Mullenger said 260 food parcels were distributed in January 2011 and 279 last month. "Previously we assisted people with food parcels as a short-term emergency but now the need for food assistance is becoming a regular feature.
Children Who Diverge from Gender
Norms Report Common Abuse
Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston revealed that young children who do not conform to gender stereotypes have a greater risk of being abused. These young children, even before reaching 11, are at significant risk for physical, sexual and psychological abuse. There are also symptoms which show post-traumatic stress disorders. The NIH-funded study, led by S. Bryn Austin, ScD, of Children's Hospital Boston and the Harvard School of Public Health, used data gathered by questionnaires from almost 9,000 young adults (average age, 23) who enrolled in the longitudinal Growing Up Today Study in 1996. In 2007, respondents were asked to recall their childhood experiences, including favorite toys and games, roles they took in play, media characters they imitated or admired, and feelings of femininity or masculinity. They were also asked about physical, sexual or emotional abuse they experienced at the hands of parents, other adults or older children, and were screened for PTSD.
Foster care crisis in Canada
deepening, advocates say
Some children are placed in foster care without full safety checks while others wind up in supervised apartments or overcrowded homes, say child advocates who warn of a deepening crisis across the country. “There are problems when you hear people from the front line talking about the fact that we’re placing kids in homes where the study hasn’t been done,” said Peter Dudding, executive director of the Child Welfare League of Canada. “We’ve got kids being placed in homes where the home is over the allowable number of children. “This is just wrong. And it’s dangerous.” British Columbia’s children’s advocate has reviewed the child welfare system extensively over the years, finding numerous instances of children being placed in homes that weren’t adequately screened.
Australia: Half of young patients
Nearly half the violent incidents involving patients at a Melbourne children's hospital required them being physically restrained, a study has found. The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne created an eight-person team to respond to incidents of violence and aggression as part of a 14-month project. The team - dubbed `code grey' - was activated 104 times for incidents involving both patients and visitors, according to a report in the latest Medical Journal of Australia. Forty patients aged between six and 24 were involved in 75 of the cases, with females more likely to be aggressive than males. A further 29 cases involved visitors to the hospital. When dealing with patients, physical restraint was used in 34 out of 75 cases while sedation was used on 23 occasions.
State to decide on contract that
affects 157 Maryland foster children
Maryland officials plan to announce this week whether the state will sever ties with the state's second-largest foster care provider, a decision that also could determine whether the company keeps its contract in the District of Columbia. Officials with the Maryland Department of Human Resources, the agency charged with protecting the state's 7,400 foster children, is expected to announce a decision on renewing the license for Contemporary Family Services. The Hyattsville company's contract in D.C. depends on it retaining its Maryland license, according to officials with the District of Columbia's Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. In the past decade, Contemporary Family Services has served more than 700 children. The company is one of about 80 foster care providers in the state. The providers match foster homes with children, many of whom have been abused or neglected. The company's two-year license renewal is due in March.
Foster Care Support Could Be
Extended In Pennsylvania
A proposal from the governor’s office may save Pennsylvania nearly $4.5 million by fully implementing a federal Act that promotes adoption and improves outcomes for foster youth. The Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 provides federal funding for states that comply with its various programs, which largely center on financial support for adoptive families and extending foster care for youth who need it. As of March 2010, the Department of Welfare reported that 15,920 children were in foster care. Joan Benso, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, says that currently, adoptive families only receive financial support from the state until the child turns 18. “The most important and largest impact this proposal would have is that it would extend the subsidies for guardianship and the subsidies for adoption to age 21, so they can create a permanent home for children in foster care,” Benso said. She said the plan will also expand the requirements for remaining in foster care. Currently, the continuation of foster care is extended only to those who are enrolled in post-secondary education or receiving medical care. Under the plan, this criteria would include youth who are enrolled in job training or working at least 80 hours a month. Full implementation of the plan would also allow youth who voluntarily leave foster care to re-enter the system, which Benso says is an important reassurance for young adults who find themselves with no place to turn.
Programs for troubled kids stay
Catholic school board officials have decided they will not relocate some special education programs for troubled youth, despite hearing concerns from parents.
Last fall, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board administrators came under heavy criticism from Mississauga parents who were surprised to learn teens in the program were being taught at their children’s elementary school. Under the Education Act, Section 23 programs serve students, up to 21-years-old, in government-approved care and/or treatment facilities experiencing social, emotional and/or medical problems.
The board provides a learning environment outside what would be considered their regular school setting because the problems these students may be experiencing make functioning in a typical classroom difficult. The goal is to eventually transition the students back into the regular school system.
Texas Deputies: Kids found tied
up in dark room
Eleven children are in foster care after investigators said they were found living in a home with a total of 21 people. Investigators said some of the children were tied up to a bed. Investigators made the discovery at the home on Ford Avenue in Dayton, Liberty County on January 24. Dayton police have turned the case over to Child Protective Services. Investigators said the children range in age from five months to 11-years-old. Some neighbors said they were suspicious when they say they saw lots of cars in the driveway and saw what appeared to be three storage sheds and an old RV in the backyard. Neighbors said they also saw lights on in the buildings in the middle of the night, but said they had no idea of what was allegedly happening inside. "I had an idea given the amount of cars at night that parked there. A lot of people," said one neighborhood resident who asked not to be identified. "I had no idea of 20 something people in that house at night. Then I started suspecting the back buildings of having people in them too." The next custody hearing in this case is scheduled for March 9. No one involved in this case has been charged with a crime.
Former foster care students defy
statistics at U.Alabama
Senior Sean Hudson heard the words, “Foster kids do not stay in college,” over and over again as he was applying to become a student at the University of Alabama. A recent study done by the nsoro Foundation found that only two percent of foster care children go on to earn college degrees. However, two students at UA with a background in foster care, Hudson and senior Caroline James, defy the odds as they both look to graduate in May. Hudson entered foster care at age 14 because he lived in an emotionally and physically abusive home. He lived in a total of three group homes and two foster homes over the next few years. It was not until Hudson met social worker Alice Westery in his second group home that he began to feel like his life had a purpose ... Caroline James plans to graduate in May as well with degrees in both social psychology and intercultural communications. James entered foster care at age 11 and, like Hudson, lived in several group and foster homes. The turning point for James, however, was her acceptance to Booker T. Washington magnet school in Montgomery. “That was probably the only thing that saved me,” James said. Prior to the magnet school, James attended an on-site school at her group home, which consisted of students who could not read or, even in some cases, spell their names.
UK: Tewkesbury MP gets facts on
MP, Laurence Robertson, got the facts on foster care on a recent visit to Staunton based fostering agency Community Foster Care. Mr Robertson met Chief Executive, Becky Pearson, and her team at the social enterprise which has foster carers across Gloucestershire, Swindon, Wiltshire and Cumbria. Afterwards, Mr Robertson said: “I was very impressed by this successful Gloucestershire social enterprise which recruits, trains and supports foster carers. “Community Foster Care’s ethos and extremely high standards ensure that the children being looking after by their team of foster carers really are helped to live happy and successful lives. “This not-for-profit organisation shows how social enterprise business models can be used successfully in the health and social care sector with their strong emphasis on standards of care and quality of training and support.” Community Foster Care is the only fostering agency in the UK to be awarded the nationally-recognised Social Enterprise Mark.
National data lacking on numbers, services for
foster kids in Canada
Anyone seeking a national snapshot of the average child in foster care in Canada, especially how their experiences helped shape their adult life, is flat out of luck. No reliable national statistics exist on children in foster care in the country, a situation compounded by the differences in how data is collected at the provincial and territorial levels. “We know ridiculously little about these kids,” said Nico Trocme, who directs the Centre for Research on Children and Families at McGill University in Montreal. “I can't answer a basic question like how many kids are in foster care in Canada,” says Trocme, whose research is carried out in collaboration with a number of Canadian universities. Trocme, who works with governments and social service agencies to help them target services, said corporations are often more rigorous at profiling their clientele. It can easily cost taxpayers $1 million to care for a child who comes into foster care as an infant and leaves when they're 20, says Virginia Rowden, social policy director for the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies. “I want to know how that investment made a difference,” she said. “We don't have a way of doing that.”
MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY
Ireland: Galway launches national
childcare emergency plan
Galway has taken the lead in creating Ireland's first Critical Incident Plan for emergencies in childcare services. The initiative is funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and provides an emergency planning and response system designed for childcare providers. The toolkit addresses situations including extreme weather conditions, chemical spills or medical emergencies and is to be rolled out nationwide. The plan led by Galway City and County Childcare Committee was officially launced by Mary McLoughlin, Principal Officer at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs at the Clayton Hotel February 18.
Indiana: RYS and Noah’s Ark
Children’s Village merge
Officials representing Regional Youth Services Inc. and Noah’s Ark Children’s Village signed an agreement to finalize a merger between the two agencies. This process began when Regional Youth Services signed a management agreement in 2009 and began to operate the 84-acre residential foster care facility located off Allison Lane in Jeffersonville, according to a press release. Joe Huecker, executive director of Regional Youth Services, said that the “joining of the two agencies” had strengthened the programming available to youth in Southern Indiana and allows for future innovation. Regional Youth Services is a nonprofit agency providing services to children and families since 1973. The agency provides foster care in communities throughout Southern Indiana. Noah’s Ark Children’s Village becomes an arm of the foster care program. The residential foster care model is an ideal community complete with five homes built around a central playground area. The facility has an on-campus commissary which receives donations of canned goods, household items (including cleaning supplies), hygiene and school supplies, and clothing.
Pennsylvania: Montgomery County
Commissioners to fight proposed funding cuts from state
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett´s proposed state budget cuts would have a dramatic impact on Montgomery County social service agencies if enacted this summer, and the commissioners plan to press local state legislators to preserve the funding. Commissioner Chairman Josh Shapiro said during Thursday´s meeting that current proposed reductions would cut funding signifcantly (among other things) for Children and Youth, Child Day Care Services and Montgomery County Community College. Shapiro said. Under state law, Children and Youth is mandated to investigate all reports of suspected abuse, neglect or dependency of children from infancy to age 18. The county agency stands to lose up to $170,000. "Now, I do want to commend the governor for putting forth an idea on block grants as it relates to some of the child welfare grants," the chairman said. "Block grants are a good idea, they give the county a lot more flexibility than we have now. The problem is they´re underfunded by about 20 percent." Shapiro wants to boost the funding levels for block grants, he said.
B.C.: Youth forum raises
awareness of poverty
B.C.'s watchdog for children and youth made a special trip to Burnaby's Byrne Creek Secondary where Mary Ellen TurpelLafond was the main speaker at a forum on poverty, held at Byrne Creek. The teachers from Byrne Creek organized the forum to bring youth together to build awareness around poverty issues, and more than 100 students from Burnaby and Coquitlam attended. Four Grade 7 students at Burnaby's St. Helen's School have been busy raising money for Seymour Elementary in Vancouver. Alyssa Sommer, Anita Didak, Bianca Moretto and Sophia Govorcin held an ice-skating fundraiser recently in Vancouver and raised $655 for Seymour. Last year, Seymour teacher Carrie Gelson issued a public plea for help on behalf of students who needed basic things like shoes, socks and snacks. The St. Helen's students called the fundraiser Schools Helping Schools, Kids Helping Kids.
UK: Volunteers needed to help
guide children through difficult changes
Parentingb and youth support charity Family Lives is appealing for volunteers in the Five Valleys to work with young people as they make the difficult transition from childhood to puberty. Recruits will be based in schools and will engage with children identified as needed mentoring support. The charity will hold interviews at its Stroud office on Wednesday, March 7, prior to successful applicants receiving full training. To apply for the unpaid role, email email@example.com or download a form at www.familylives.org.uk
Ireland: More child neglect cases
being referred to services
More cases of child neglect are being referred to the country’s care services, said the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, yesterday as she outlined plans for a standalone referendum on children’s rights later this year. Speaking before a meeting of the Joint Committee on Health and Children, the minister also revealed that at the end of last year, there were 6,160 children in care, while as many as 71 social workers are expected to step down this month as part of the state retirement plan. As many as 50 of those could be working in child and family services, but Ms Fitzgerald said new social workers had been employed or were in the process of beginning work, helping to fulfil recommendations made in the Ryan Report.
Delaware: Expanded child services
A mix of groups involved in providing services to Delaware children testified Thursday in favor of new initiatives designed to improve the handling of child welfare complaints and account for a growing number of children with complex mental-health issues. In a hearing before the Legislature's budget-drafting committee, the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families' request was in line with Gov. Jack Markell's $176 million recommendation, but officials did ask the committee to fully fund several key items. Secretary Vivian Rapposelli highlighted $920,000 for the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services that would pay for additional substance-abuse and mental-health treatment for children. "Both the number of clients and the complexity of these clients' needs are increasing. ... These funds are necessary for the department to provide critically mandated treatment services," she said. Some of the programs assist adolescents battling eating disorders, drug addiction or behavioral problems in schools or by counselors making home visits. These providers can be state employees, but many work for outside groups contracted by the department.
Ohio: Number of children in
foster care on the rise in Coshocton
Coshocton County Job and Family Services has seen the number of children in foster care almost triple in the past year. The number, which typically is between 12 to 15, jumped to 32 in 2011, said Mindy Fehrman, director of Coshocton County Job and Family Services. The staff attributes it to the increase in children being removed from parents who have mental or drug abuse problems, she said. Beth Cormack, director of Coshocton Behavioral Health Choices, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, said her agency's number of clients is trending down. "It's really unusual for us, and we think it may have to do with more people choosing to do the jail time instead of getting the treatment," she said. "It means we're seeing the ones who really want to make a difference. You really have to want to make a change in order for the program to be successful."
Washington: Roberts’ bill on
extended foster care passes House
A bill that state Rep. Mary Helen Roberts sponsored to provide foster care services to students beyond high school has passed the House of Representatives. The bill would allow students in college or other post-secondary education to get foster care services. Roberts represents the 21st Legislative District, which now includes Lynnwood, Mukilteo and most of Edmonds, but, after redistricting, will no longer include Lynnwood and reach south Everett.
UK: Child asylum seeker: 'I begged not to be put
in prison. They handcuffed me'
Ngisti was briefly imprisoned in her home country in east Africa before she fled to the UK at the age of 16 and claimed asylum. Social services correctly assessed her as a child but when she went to the Home Office's asylum screening unit in Croydon four officers rejected her account of her age – and the social services assessment. She was detained as an adult at Oakington detention centre in Cambridgeshire for six days. "I couldn't believe it," Ngisti, now 23, said this week. "I had fled Eritrea to escape prison and thought I'd arrived in a safe country, but now I was being locked up again." Ngisti was one of the 40 children who were wrongly detained as adults and who won a group legal action against the Home Office; the existence of the case and the Home Office's £2m payout is revealed for the first time.
FRIDAY 17 FEBRUARY
Canada: Kids ask Harper to `Have
a Heart' for First Nations children
Parliament Hill, covered in white snow, was decked out in red hearts Tuesday morning, as about 400 children - both aboriginal and non-aboriginal - from across the country brought ``valentines'' with a special message for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Have a Heart campaign aims to raise awareness about the dire circumstances facing aboriginal children in state care. It's part of a major publicity campaign surrounding an ongoing Federal Court judicial review brought by aboriginal child-advocacy groups against a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision to dismiss a case against the federal government. The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations allege the government is discriminating against aboriginal children by consistently underfunding child-welfare services on reserves, leading, they contend, to poverty, poor housing, substance abuse and a vast over-representation of aboriginal children in state care.
Oregon: Early learning bill spurs
Vicki Brogoitti, head of the Union County Commission on Children and Families, feels these days like she’s peering at the future through a glass, darkly. Oregon House Bill 4165 — the so-called Early Learning Legislation pushed by Gov. John Kitzhaber — has a good chance of passage this legislative session. It would do away with the Oregon Commission on Children and Families and its 36 county-level commissions, and would make vast changes in the way early education and related programs are delivered. For Brogoitti, the Kitzhaber bill isn’t all bad. She says no one can argue with the fact that more resources need to be focused on early learning. On the other hand, she questions whether the bill has been thoroughly thought out, and she worries about the network of community partners she and the local CCF board has struggled to build since CCF began in the 1990s. “There’s such a lack of specificity in what the (governor’s) plan is. We don’t have a clear understanding how children and families will be connected to the services they need,” she said.
Canada: Concussions hit the young
Developing brains are more vulnerable to injuries and take longer to recover from them, according to the experts. There is a growing number of children in B.C. reporting multiple concussions. Since they’re grossly under-reported, it’s nearly impossible to track them, says Dr. Ash Singhal, a neurosurgeon, University of B.C. pediatrics associate professor and the medical director of the pediatric trauma pro-gram at BC Children's Hospital. Singhal says a concussion diagnosis doesn’t always lead to a visit to the emergency room. In 2009, the most recent data avail-able, BC Children’s Hospital reported 257 emergency department visits related to concussions in children and youth. Health care professionals believe those numbers have gone up in the last couple of years because doctors seem to be more willing to diagnose concussions where they would have previously diagnosed them as minor head injuries, according to Mariana Brussoni, director of BC Children’s Hospital’s Injury Reporting and Prevention Program. The Canadian Paediatric Society released a new position statement in January warning that parents, doctors and coaches need to treat concussions as brain injuries with potentially catastrophic consequences
Eckerd's Lorita Shirley will lead
takeover of child protection work
Hillsborough County's new child protector introduced herself to Tampa today, pledging to review all active child dependency cases to ensure none have slipped through the cracks. Prior to Lorita Shirley being named to lead child welfare services in Hillsborough County, she served as the executive director of Eckerd Community Alternatives, the lead child protection agency in Pinellas and Pasco counties. Eckerd replaces Hillsborough Kids Inc. on July 1. She appeared Tuesday at a news conference with David Wilkins, secretary of the state Department of Children and Families. The change comes in the wake of nine deaths in the past two years of Hillsborough County children whose families were under state supervision.
UK: Manchester anti-child
trafficking project gets Lottery fund windfall
As part of the BIG Reaching Communities programme, children’s charity Barnardo's has received £297,098 to help fund a pilot scheme to protect young people who are either at risk of child trafficking or who have experienced it first-hand. Through Gregory’s Place, a facility just outside Manchester city centre, affected children will be able to communicate and socialise with other children from a background of similar experiences. Emma Hawley, Children’s Services Manager at Gregory’s Place, was delighted with the news. She said: “The money will help to build on our existing work with some of the most vulnerable and hidden young people as well as helping us to increase the awareness of professionals in how to identify and support young people who have been trafficked into the UK.”
Florida: Organizations donate
computers to foster youth
Two southwest Florida organizations are partnering up to give computers to 50 teens who have aged out of foster care so that they can continue with their educations. The Children's Network of Southwest Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University announced the donations this week. Many youths leave foster care each year without a permanent family to help them transition into adulthood. Studies show that many struggle to get their high school diploma and end up homeless. The state's Independent Living Program gives monthly stipends to help nearly 4,000 youths, but those stipends may take a hit in this year's state budget. Lawmakers have proposed nearly $12 million in program cuts. Child advocates say foster care workers should be held accountable for better preparing the youths for adulthood.
Ireland: Teen on bail in youth
A teenager who repeatedly punched and kicked a youth to his head during an unprovoked attack has been remanded on bail pending sentence. The 17-year-old, who is in care, pleaded guilty at the Children's Court to assault causing harm in north Dublin, on July 1 last year. During the attack, he had to be "pulled off" his victim, but had no prior criminal convictions and later he apologised to the youth through the Facebook website, the court heard. The teenager approached the victim and "struck him three times" because he had mistakenly thought he had "slagged off" a friend. He was remanded on bail for sentencing in March.
Australia: Foster parents win pay
FOSTER parents who lost payments of up to $6000 a year have been given a reprieve after a backdown by the O'Farrell government. Community Services Minister Pru Goward will make the payments in a lump sum, instead of fortnightly, and only pay them if the teenage children go to school. Ms Goward had been under pressure over the budget decision to stop the payments for children aged over 16. As part of $2 billion cuts to her department, Ms Goward also cut funding for a glasses program last month for poor people. Parents will now be eligible for $6000 per child from July 1 and the government said receipt of youth allowance by 16- to 17-year-olds "will not affect the ability of carers to apply for or receive the teenage education payment". Under the changes in last year's state budget, foster care parents had had their payments of $836 a fortnight reduced by $214 a fortnight (the amount the children receive in youth allowance).
Alaska: Needed: Therapeutic
foster care for children
Every year, an estimated 908,000 children become victims of abuse and neglect. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service show that in 2006, an estimated 15,000 children were identified as being severely emotionally disturbed, with only a third receiving treatment of any type. About 120 children between the ages of 3 and 21 of that population are served by The Center of Homer. Services provided by this mental health agency address family, social and psychological concerns experienced by children, adolescents and their family. "Some of these children require a level of care that is currently not available in Homer, and these children unfortunately are being sent out of the community to mental health institutions," said Dan Bigley, director of therapeutic foster care for Denali Family Services. Based in Anchorage, this nonprofit organization specializing in providing mental health service for children is collaborating with The Center to establish therapeutic foster care homes in the greater Homer area in an effort to allow these children to stay in their home community.
Czech Republic: Foster parents
are hard to find, experts say
There is no active search for and recruitment of future foster carers in the Czech Republic, representatives of organisations helping children told journalists yesterday. According to the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry plans, some 300-500 professional foster families are to be available in the nearest future. The system of care for threatened children is to be changed by a drafted amendment that is to take effect by mid-year. It is to contribute to small children not having to end up in institutes. Instead, they should either stay in their own families or be sent to substitute families. "At present, there is certainly a shortage of foster families. There is no active search in the Czech Republic in which we would ask people to become fosterers, explain to them what foster care means," Ria Cerna, from the Amalthea association, has said. "In the moment, one has to wait for who will come and volunteer," Cerna said.
UK: Councils join forces to cut fostering costs
Southampton City Council has launched a partnership with 10 other local authorities to reduce the cost of specialist fostering placements and plough the savings back into better services for children in care. Currently, the 11 councils have around 650 looked-after children placed with approximately 50 different fostering agencies at a total cost of £29m per year. Under the partnership, which is called the Independent Fostering Agency, the 11 local authorities will purchase specialist placements in bulk. Initial estimates of savings for the participating authorities range from three per cent to more than seven per cent, with Southampton City Council anticipating a saving of £160,000 in the first year of the partnership alone. A total of 27 providers will offer independent fostering placements to the 11 local authorities across the south-central region under the new arrangements. Providers are required to have an Ofsted rating of good or better to be in the running to submit a tender to the partnership.
WEDNESDAY 15 FEBRUARY
Australia: Children neglected in
mental healthcare law: watchdog
The New South Wales government has been criticised by its own youth watchdog for failing to identify children as a special group which the new Mental Health Commission needs to take into account. The commission is charged with fixing mental healthcare in NSW and has the power to compel other public sector agencies to co-operate with it. Megan Mitchell, who heads the Commission for Children and Young People, has written to the parliamentary committee that overseas her statutory authority to express her concerns. She said the government legislation establishing the Mental Health Commission "fails to identify children and young people as a group whose particular views and needs the Mental Health Commission must take into account in exercising its functions".
Pennsylvania: Program director,
founder stepping back after decades of work with families and children
Vicki Wilson, the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program director will be retiring from her position at the end of March. The 62-year-old Johnstown native has spent most of her life working for the nonprofit child-advocate program branch she founded a local branch of as well as for other state and county social service programs. Yet, she leaves feeling she has not done enough. "I wanted to do more. I wanted our program to grow to do more with teenagers because that's the push now," she said from the CASA office located in the Beginnings, Inc. building in Johnstown. Wilson is not retiring for political, legal or financial reasons and is issuing a statement of regret. She's just been helping children and families struggling through difficult circumstances for more than 40 years and she needs to take a deep breath.
Australia: Push for national
strategy for foetal alcohol disorder
A parliamentary inquiry is generating calls for FASD to be recognised as a disability. Parents, foster carers, nurses and other health workers who have experience with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders have been urged to tell their story to federal parliament. A parliamentary committee is investigating the incidence and prevention of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in Australia. "FASD is a hidden epidemic happening right now across Australia," committee chairman Graham Perrett told parliament this week. "It occurs in all our communities, regardless of socioeconomic or ethnic background." Some people with FASD had tell-tale facial features but many more sufferers carried no physical sign of their intellectual impairment which included learning difficulties, low IQ, behavioural and socialising problems, organ damage, mental health issues, poor judgment and an inability to understand consequences or the difference between right and wrong.
Saskatchewan foster guardians to
receive mandatory first aid
and CPR training
The Government of Saskatchewan announced Monday that funding will go towards the certification of 1,200 foster guardians in first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) level B, which is now mandatory. "This mandatory training will provide foster parents with the type of skills required to improve the outcome of emergency situations," said Saskatchewan Foster Families Association Executive Director Deb Davies. A one-time funding of $561,400 from the Ministry of Social Services will provide certification for approximately 680 foster homes across the province by spring of 2014. "The safety and well-being of children in care is our top priority," said Social Services Minister June Draude.
US Youth-Related Spending in
Obama's 2013 Budget
President Barack Obama unveiled his 2013 budget proposal today, which calls for $3.8 trillion in spending and projects a $901 billion deficit for the year. It was quickly met with resistance from Republican leadership. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) promised to “go line by line through the President’s budget, prioritize programs, and make decisions on the appropriate investment of discretionary funds.” The president would fund the Office of Justice Programs at $1.7 billion in 2013, down from $2.7 billion in 2011 and $2 billion in 2012. The budget would increase spending on the juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, a division of OJP. Notable was $20 million “evidence-based competitive demonstration program” for juvenile justice reform. This, of course, is the concept that the administration proposed for nearly all juvenile justice funding in 2012.
UK: 240 Reading children need
More than 240 children in Reading are looking for a home and the council hopes to find families who can help. Reading Borough Council is launching a major recruitment campaign for foster carers as the number of children in council care continues to rise. Reasons why children are unable to live with their natural parents vary enormously. While they are away from their own families, the best option for children is to live with another family who can provide the stability they need. Fostering is a way of providing family care for these children and helping them stay in touch with their families and friends. Care may be needed for a few days, a few weeks or much longer. This will in turn will allow respite opportunities for existing foster carers
Australia: Foster allowance cuts
hurt teens: carers
Teenagers are living in poverty and their health is at risk because of a cut to the Foster Care Allowance by the NSW government, carers warn. As of January 1, foster carers of 16- to 18-year-olds in NSW have received $212 less per fortnight to put towards children in their care, after an $8 million cut to the budget. On Tuesday, Opposition Leader John Robertson took five carers affected by the changes into NSW parliament for Question Time to draw attention to their plight. Speaking outside afterwards, grandparents Margaret and Jim Pope, who care for their 17-year-old granddaughter, said the cut to the allowance has added extra strain to their already stretched budget. "It's not fair that they (the children) live in poverty because we can't afford things," Mrs Pope told AAP
Chicago: Hull House Association
files for liquidation
The Jane Addams Hull House Association, a 122-year-old Chicago charity, has filed for bankruptcy. Last month, the organization, which provided foster care, domestic violence counseling and job training to 60,000 children, families and community groups annually, announced that it was going out of business and would file soon for bankruptcy. It made its filing Friday. Its Chapter 7 filing, for liquidation, estimated the number of creditors at 200 to 999, and liabilities of $10 million to $50 million. It has assets of $1 million to $10 million.
Australia: Foster care crisis
leaves teens on outer
TROUBLED teens will be made vulnerable if more people don't sign up as foster carers in Monash, an agency has warned. Waverley Emergency Adolescent Care is pleading for residents to join their crusade to find more foster homes for adolescents in strife. The non-profit agency seeks to help young people from the eastern suburbs who need emergency, medium or long-term accommodation. The service has about 23 foster carers on its books, less than half the number it really needs, and gets up to four calls a day from the Department of Human Services asking for carers. "We're on call to child protection at night and we're just seeing an influx of young people coming into care and who need a supportive and safe environment," WEAC chief executive Maureen Buck said. "In a lot of the circumstances, it's not the fault of the young people."
MONDAY 13 FEBRUARY
Pennsylvania: CASA program
helping abused, neglected children
eat the odds
While Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) have been operating in Cambria County since 1997 and in Somerset County since 2010, many people are not familiar with the mission and people behind the program. "We are trying to spread the word. I think people do need to know more about us," said program director Vicki Wilson. "Our mission is to provide advocacy in court for abused and neglected children so that it leads to placement in safe, nurturing homes." she added. "Everyone knows that's how children thrive. This is your future. If you invest in your children, in the long run that's going to save you foster care money, criminal charges and other costs." CASA is set up through a juvenile court judge and becomes a set of ears and eyes for that judge as the cases proceed through court. In Somerset it's Judge D. Gregory Geary, in Cambria County the judge is Norman Krumenacker.
Australia: Suicide among children
as young as 11 at alarming levels
GIRLS as young as 11 are committing suicide at an unprecedented rate in Northern Territory indigenous communities where family violence is rife. Dr Howard Bath, the territory's outspoken Children's Commissioner, told The Saturday Age this week that girls now account for a previously unheard of 40 per cent of all suicides of children under the age of 17.
The increase in young female suicides coincides with an epidemic of marijuana use and a staggering rise in the number of territory Aboriginal women being admitted to hospital as a result of violence. "Aboriginal women are being hospitalised for assault at 80 times the rate of other women. It beggars belief.'' said Dr Bath. ''Exposure to violence greatly increases the risk of a person taking their life."
Ireland: Government, HSE and
Gardaí making good progress
on child protection
Fine Gael Cork South Senator Deirdre Clune has commended the Government, the HSE and the Garda Siochána on the progress made with child protection since 2010. The Senator said that putting the right systems in place and ensuring all child protection agencies are communicating with one another is the most effective way to combat child sexual abuse. “The Garda Inspectorate report on child sexual abuse detailed numerous holes in the system when it comes to the reporting of and dealing with issues relating to child sexual abuse. Since the investigation was carried out however, considerable progress has been made in addressing these deficiencies. “During the course of the inspection, the problem of under-recording of offences was brought to Garda attention. Swift action was taken to address this issue and the Garda Commissioner has recently reiterated that a new system has now been put in place to ensure proper recording of such cases.
New Zealand: Children's voices on
child abuse 'sobering'
New Zealanders are being told to be prepared for potential changes which may arise from the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children. A number of submissions from the country's young people through child helpline 0800 WHATSUP have been handed over to Social Development and Youth Affairs Minister Paula Bennett. Some of them were short but honest such as "violence is not okay" and calls for their parents to stop "bashing us". Paula Bennett says the comments are powerful. "Actually having children speak themselves and tell us what's important to them, out of the mouths of babes, it is honest, it is raw and it's pretty sobering and makes you really think seriously about the work you're doing." She says New Zealanders have been willing to engage in the process, but any changes will have consequences for all parents.
Illinois at risk of losing a
generation of children
According to the Illinois Kids Count 2012 report, children are caught in a “budget crossfire” at both the state and federal levels, while policymakers are neglecting long-term investments in children. Following are quotes from the report:
The recession has taken a heavy toll on Illinois families. In 2010, one in five Illinois children lived in poverty, and more than 33,000 homeless children were enrolled in the state’s public schools. Moreover, in a time of growing need, the state budget crisis is undermining hard-won progress in expanding opportunities for children. The report’s conclusion emphasizes that strategies for reducing budget deficits and promoting economic growth must include effective public investments in children. “We must summon the political will to ensure that children are provided with the opportunities to develop their full potential, or we risk losing an entire generation of children — and jeopardizing our future workforce,” said Ryg. “Policymakers must make hard decisions about how to allocate limited resources. We know what works, and we’re asking to safeguard the progress that’s been made. Investing in opportunities for children now can help ensure the future well-being of everyone in the state.”
Cambodia: Orphanages set for
Children belong, first and foremost, with their families, not in institutions – that was the central message delivered by Minister of Social Affairs Ith Sam Heng yesterday as he announced that 70 orphanages would be closed. Presenting the findings of With the Best Intentions, a study into attitudes to residential care, primarily focusing on orphanages, Ith Sam Heng announced a new progressive policy on alternative care aimed at keeping children out of institutions. “Family care is the best option; no one loves children like their families,” he said, stressing that residential care for at-risk children would now be considered only as a last resort. Only 23 per cent of children found inside Cambodian orphanages had actually lost both parents, the minister said, citing the report. The majority of parents who sent their children to orphanages did so because they were poor and held the misguided assumption that an institution could provide better care, he said, urging orphanages not to exploit these misperceptions.
Oregon: Bill would give
alternative to foster care
Jim Seymour believes that children should be raised by a community, not government. But currently, the latter is the case for a small group of children in the foster care system. Seymour, executive director of Catholic Community Services, estimates about 3 to 5 percent of Oregon's foster youths are raised by the state. They enter it as babies and bounce from 10 to 30 homes before aging out of the system, he said. But unlike children who grow up with a loving family, these foster youths don't have any place or any one to turn to if they flunk out of college, run into financial problems or make other mistakes that adolescents sometimes do. Seymour hopes that will change with the help of House Bill 4023, which has Chief Justice Paul De Muniz's support.
Ireland: Government has no plans
to allow same-sex couples
to adopt children
THE GOVERNMENT HAS said that there are no legislative plans at present to allow gay and lesbian couples in Ireland to adopt children. In answer to a parliamentary question, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald has outlined the current rules surrounding the adoption of children in Ireland and said that presently there are. “ The Adoption Act states that a child may be adopted by married couples, a mother or father of the child or a relative of the child but there are no rules that allow for unmarried couples or gay and lesbian couples to jointly adopt a child. Same-sex marriage is not permitted in Ireland at present. It is possible for a single person to adopt a child if the Adoption Authority considers it desirable. This effectively means that if a person is living with a same-sex or opposite-sex partner they can apply to the Authority to adopt a child in their own right and raise the child with their partner.
Oklahoma: State lacking in child
welfare, foster care programs
Emergency foster-care shelters are vastly overused in Oklahoma, which also spends less on child welfare programs than states of similar child populations, according to officials from a national nonprofit dedicated to advocating for families. Experts from the Maryland-based Annie E. Casey Foundation gave a daylong training session this month for the oversight commissioners of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, a handful of lawmakers and child advocates. The high use of emergency shelters in Oklahoma was criticized in the federal lawsuit filed by the New York-based nonprofit Children's Rights and was brought up several times during the training. The two state shelters - Laura Dester in Tulsa and Pauline E. Mayer in Oklahoma City - routinely hit daily numbers above the nationally accepted standard of no more than 25 children. Some experts argue no child younger than 5 should be in a shelter.
Kansas: Courts struggle with
spike in cases of child abuse, neglect
In courts on both sides of the state line, judges and social workers are facing a grim puzzle: What’s behind a spike in the number of child abuse and neglect cases? While researchers look for a cause — possibly in the weak economy — more and more dysfunctional families in Johnson and Jackson counties are landing in court. There, judges decide whether children stay with their parents, move to temporary foster care or are adopted by new families.
From 2007 through last year, new cases of child abuse and neglect rose from 365 to 561 in Johnson County and from 859 to 970 in Jackson County. Johnson County in July had to assign a second judge to the docket that handles those cases. The county has to send children to foster homes in Wichita and farther out, said Judge Kathleen Sloan, who has handled the cases for years. And on both sides of the state line, foster families and the CASA volunteers who represent the interests of children in court are in short supply.
UK: Councils at loss over numbers
of missing children
THOUSANDS of children are going missing from the care of local authorities in Yorkshire each year, with many lost for weeks or months at a time. South Yorkshire alone reported nearly 1,000 children missing from foster care and residential homes in 2011, according to police data. Officers have warned that local authority records of missing children are “hugely inaccurate” and that councils are failing to get to grips with the full extent of the problem. Children missing from care risk becoming involved in drugs or crime and are vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Many run away – often repeatedly – to see friends or family members who have been deemed unsafe by local authorities. Police estimate an average of £1,000 is spent tracking down each child, totalling millions every year.
Australia: Union fights NSW govt
on foster-care plans
The Public Service Association (PSA) is lobbying the state government over moves to outsource foster care to non-government organisations (NGOs). Speaking at the launch of the Safe Hands campaign in Sydney, PSA assistant secretary Steve Turner said NGOs did not have the capacity or the resources to handle the case load. "Our fear is more children will fall through the cracks," Mr Turner told AAP. Mr Turner said the government was more focused on reducing costs than protecting children. "We're not convinced they've looked at the implications as much as... at the budget," he said. "They're doing this as a cost-saving measure and not as the best issue for children." The PSA says the outsourcing will also result in Community Services (previously called DOCS) workers losing their jobs
FRIDAY 10 FEBRUARY
DCF survey: Youth substance abuse
in decline in Florida
Fewer middle and high school students are experimenting with marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs, according to survey results released recently by the Department of Children and Families. The 2011 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey showed less than 10 percent of all students had tried drugs other than marijuana within 30 days of the survey. Marijuana use was reported in 12 percent of the students, a decline from 2010. Early use of cigarettes and alcohol also dropped among all age groups. “We are encouraged to see that more students are saying no to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol,” said DCF Secretary David Wilkins. “This survey gives insight into the minds and behaviors of Florida’s children and lets our state know where help is still needed.” The survey is a collaboration among DCF, the Department of Health, Department of Education and Department of Juvenile Justice. The results come from a survey of 11,491 students in grades 6 through 12 that was conducted in 2011. All drug use except marijuana has declined each year from 2002 to 2011.
Children’s Advocate received
2,299 requests for office’s services
Manitoba’s Office of Children’s Advocate released her 2010-2011 annual report today. Advocate Darlene MacDonald said during that span her office received 2,299 requests for her office’s services. The number of requests are almost the same as those reported in the same period for the year before. There were 1,034 cases opened. The report says the number of cases reported reflects changes made to the office’s data entry system last year rather than an increase in cases. There were also 53 child deaths referred to the office’s special investigations review unit out of 156 children who died in 2010-2010. Most deaths (58 per cent) are the result of natural causes. Accidental deaths and suicide are other causes. There were five homicides of children under 18 in 2010-2011. Eight of the 156 children who died were in the care of an agency at the time of death. Fifty-two per cent of all Manitoba child deaths happened in families who had no known child welfare involvement.
High-quality childcare key to
mothers' involvement in children's learning
Good quality childcare isn't only important for children, but for their mothers too, claims a new study. Researchers from the University of Texas in the United States analysed data from the Early Child Care and Youth Development longitudinal study of more than 1,300 children and their families. As part of the study, early years settings were evaluated at multiple points from when the children were one month to four- and-a-half years old, and mothers interviewed at regular intervals. The information revealed that mothers whose children spent their early years in high-quality childcare - nurseries or childminders - were more likely than other mothers to be actively involved in their child’s school from when they started kindergarten (the equivalent of Reception class). Mothers who did not send their child to daycare, or whose children attended low-quality settings, were less likely to be involved in their child’s school
UK: Youth involvement in
HealthWatch must be mandatory, say sector bodies
A group of 15 influential child health organisations is calling on government to amend the Health and Social Care Bill so that HealthWatch has an explicit duty to represent the views of young patients. HealthWatch is the new body being set up to give patients a say on the provision of health and social care services, at local and national level. Organisations including the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Barnardo’s want legislation to make clear that local HealthWatch branches and HealthWatch England will engage specifically with children and young people, and not just adults and older people. In a joint briefing, the group highlights evidence of the exclusion of children and young people’s voices in the NHS, including a report by NCB that found that Local Involvement Networks, the predecessors to local HealthWatch, often failed to understand that engaging with children was part of their official remit.
‘Suicide Safer Ottawa’ for
Ottawa took a step toward being a more “suicide safe” city on Wednesday night. Hundreds of people representing more than 40 organizations gathered at Ben Franklin Place for the launch of the Community Suicide Prevention Network’s “Suicide Safer Ottawa” initiative. Hosted by CFRA radio personality Steve Madely and billed as the city’s first summit on youth suicide prevention, the event featured politicians, health care leaders, educators and young people. A recording of the event was scheduled for broadcast on 580 CFRA from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. It will also be shown on Rogers television on Monday at 9 p.m. The goal of the event was to bring Ottawans together to talk about what was already in place and what needed to be in the future to help prevent youth suicide, an issue that has captured local and provincial attention in recent months, the network’s co-chair said in an interview.
Neglect, exploitation revealed in
Children have been neglected, forced to solicit funding and perform in bars while being cared for by Cambodian orphanages, a study released Wednesday found. The rapid rise of orphanages was branded 'a cause for concern' and an option that should be of 'last resort' in the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation report. The number of orphanages in Cambodia has risen dramatically in the last seven years, most of them foreign-funded. Most of the estimated 12,000 youngsters in residential care have at least one surviving parent, it said. Rights groups suspect that some orphanages are simply thinly disguised businesses. 'Some residential care centres forced children to perform in dangerous situations, such as bars, in order to solicit funds. Children were described as being bullied, neglected and emotionally abused,' the study supported by UNICEF found.
Public invited to tour Children's
Home Society of Florida's
Vero Beach Campus
Children’s Home Society of Florida recently announced that the organization would conduct public tours of its Vero Beach campus from Feb. 1 through March 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. The public is invited to join Children’s Home Society of Florida staff for an informative tour to learn how CHS programs and services turn lives around for children and young adults in our community. CHS programs are developed to break the cycle of child abuse and provide children and young adults with the opportunity to be safe, healthy and prepared for life. Tours typically take approximately 30 to 45 minutes. Additional times and dates are available upon request. Admission is free and open to the public. Contact Dee Shelton at firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.
Successful foster care program in
California is in jeopardy
California’s Governor Jerry Brown is floating a new proposal to fold funding for students in foster care into a general student fund. Foster care advocates warn that if adopted, this measure could disrupt a successful program, jeopardizing educational success for these students. The program called Foster Youth Services (FYS) was launched in California in 1981 to address the unique educational needs of foster kids. Foster children have different educational needs than other children for a host of reasons, driven by the fact that they have frequent changes in circumstances, homes and schools. The FYS program has kept graduation rates and grades up among foster care youth. The fear is that foster kids could be left out of the equation when allotting funds since their numbers and residencies are so difficult to track and districts aren't always aware of their own populations, which can change frequently.
Nebraska Study: Stick with
Nebraska should stick with its privatization of child welfare and focus on other reforms in the system, a new Platte Institute study has concluded. The study, released Wednesday, was done by Lisa Snell of the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank based in California. Speaking at a press conference, Snell argued against having the state take back responsibility for managing the cases of abused and neglected children. Instead, she said, lawmakers should make changes that would stabilize the child welfare system and lead to better outcomes for children, regardless of who handles case management. Among those changes, Snell recommended the state seek a waiver allowing federal foster care funds to be used for more in-home services. Such waivers have helped Florida and Illinois improve their child welfare systems and reduce the number of children in foster care.
Australia: The facts on child
protection in NSW
Nationally, around 39,000 children in Australia are the subject of care and protection orders, and more than 37,000 are in out-of-home care, such as foster homes. New South Wales spends more than any other state on child protection, out-of-home care and intensive family support services - about $700 per child in the population, according to a recent Productivity Commission report. Only the Northern Territory spends more - at about $1300 per child. NSW has double the number of caseworker than Victoria, with 2320, but also handles significantly more child protection reports. In the year to June 2011, NSW's Department of Community Services handled 215,272 child protection reports, and there were 17,896 children and young people in out-of-home care.
Florida: '21' figure too
Imagine abused youngsters growing up in Florida's foster care system somehow morphing into mature adults living independent lives by age 21. Statistics and countless studies show this idyllic notion borders on wishful thinking. Unfortunately, some prominent legislators in the state capital are banking on this illusion. A committee bill moving through the Florida House proposes to drop the age cutoff from 23 to 21 for older foster kids participating in the Road to Independence program. That's the state-funded program designed to help troubled youngsters live on their own once they become too old for foster-care benefits. Budget savings? The estimated $11 million age-reduction proponents hope to save could lead to costly expenditures in other parts of the budget, such as prison and mental health services. Such a move would be counterproductive at best given that Florida is desperately trying to cut prison costs and find ways to offer mental health services more efficiently.
WEDNESDAY 8 FEBRUARY
UK: Teens' plea to save youth
Teenagers determined to save three Bracknell youth centres from closure spoke passionately about the provisions during a heated debate held in the town last week. More than 30 youngsters gathered at the Coopers Hill Community Centre in Crowthorne Road on Friday, January 27, where they spoke out against potential changes to the youth services during a public meeting organised by Bracknell Forest Borough Council. Edgbarrow Youth Centre in Crowthorne, Whitegrove Youth Centre in Warfield and Trax Youth Centre in North Ascot are facing the axe as part of cost-cutting measures aimed at helping the authority address a £6 million budget shortfall. Councillor Dr Gareth Barnard, executive member for children and young people, who fronted the meeting, explained how the council is having to make some “very difficult decisions in very, very tough times”.
Canada: Physical discipline
linked to future aggression
Parents who tout corporal punishment as a way to discipline children may want to consider sparing the rod, a recent analysis has found. Children who are physically punished for misbehaving tend to be more aggressive and antisocial later in life, according to an analysis published in the latest edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. After combing through 20 years of research, the authors of the report concluded that there appears to be a link between corporal punishment and hostile behaviour. That means a spanking used to admonish a disobedient child could actually be promoting the very behaviour it was meant to stop. "These studies found that physical punishment was associated with higher levels of aggression against parents, siblings, peers and spouses," co-author Dr. Joan Durrant wrote in a news release.
Cape Breton: Mental health and
addiction services merge
under new program
Starting today, treatment for mental health or addiction will be delivered under a joint service, with the merger of Child and Adolescent Services and the adolescent treatment program of Addiction Services. Under the change, two clinical therapists from Addiction Services will join the mental health team. “The rationale behind (merging) the two services, part of it is to increase the continuum of services for adolescents with substance abuse problems Currently, those adolescents would have only had access to adolescent therapists,” said Dr. Julie MacDonald, manager with Child and Adolescent Services. “By moving the service with Mental Health Services, they’re going to be able to have access to psychology, psychiatry, social work case managers and a more team-based kind of approach.” Addiction and mental health issues often go hand-in-hand, MacDonald said.
Uganda: Orphanage management
policy in offing
A policy governing the management of orphanages in the country will be among the first business to be discussed when Parliament resumes today, officials have said. It is hoped that the policy will help provide mechanisms through which parents who are unable to look after their babies, will be able to surrender them to foster parents. The foster parents would look after the children on agreed terms. The development will as well curb theft of children from major hospitals. This was said by the State Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Mr Ronald Kibuule, while commissioning the Kaja Nafasi family home at Bulange village in Kampala last week. He said the policy will put in place mechanisms where orphanages will be run in a family setting so that children there grow up like any other children and ensure that they get the care other child deserve. “We shall have officers from the ministry monitoring the activities of the orphanages to ensure that they are in line with the law and not exploiting the children,” he said.
Louisiana: New effort addresses
severe mental needs
In March, a new state effort called the Coordinated System of Care will begin providing services for families with children and youth who have severe emotional and mental challenges. The services will be provided through regional family support organizations. For East Baton Rouge Parish, that organization will be Families Helping Families of Greater Baton Rouge. FHF will also serve as the family support organization for the parishes of West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Iberville, Pointe Coupee and Ascension. The program “will focus on at-risk children and youth, such as those with cases before juvenile court or those who are in foster care,” according to a recent FHF newsletter.
SOS Children projects unaffected
following earthquake in the Philippines
More than 13 people, including two children, have been killed by a severe earthquake in the southern-central region of the Philippines. Measuring 6.7 on the richter scale, the epicentre of the quake occurred in a narrow strait of sea off Negros Island. The strong tremors caused landslides in the Negros Oriental province, where many houses in the city of Guihulngan (with a population of around 180,000) on the coast have been buried. Dozens of people are missing and therefore the death toll is expected to rise. Many hundreds of Filipinos in the region are also injured. Thankfully, all SOS Children projects in the country were unaffected.
US: Kids in foster care 3 times
more likely to get dangerous drugs
Mind-altering drugs for kids as young three years old? It's a national scandal that has hit home in Florida. Twelve percent of children in Florida who have been removed from their homes and are in state foster care are prescribed psychotropic drugs. According to a government accountability report, kids in foster care in Florida are about three times more like to receive the drugs. The side effects from these drugs can be suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, nightmares, and even death. "We're playing with fire. We're playing with fire," says Florida State Senator Rhonda Storms, a Republican from Brandon. Storms has a bill, Senate Bill 1808, working its way through the state legislature. Her proposed legislation will make the state have to show a compelling state interest before a child in the Department of Children and Families foster care system is medicated. "We have the state making decisions for children without proper scrutiny," says the senator.
State Medi-Cal Patients Won’t be
Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed plan to charge Medi-Cal patients for care was overturned Monday by the Obama Administration. The federal ruling is a victory for low income seniors, children in foster care, single-parent families and the disabled. The cuts to Medi-Cal were proposed to help seal the $9.2 billion state deficit. Gov. Brown’s office estimated that they would have raised $300 million by charging these patients copays. However, the cuts placed a substantive financial burden on the low-income patients who rely on Medi-Cal support. These patients would be required to pay $5 for doctor visits and $3 for prescriptions. Hospital visits could potentially cost them up to $200. In a letter to the Capitol acquired by the Sacramento Bee, an administrator with the federal Department of Health and Human Services said it would not sign off on the state’s request to fund. Approval from that department was necessary in order to go forward with the cuts.
MONDAY 6 FEBRUARY
Florida: Coalition Urges Sheriffs
against Putting Children in Adult Facilities
A coalition of organizations urged sheriffs not to detain juveniles under standards that treat them like adults at today’s Florida Sheriffs’ Association (FSA) Jail Standards Committee meeting. Attendees proposed changes to the minimum standards of county jails that seek to detain children. While the preference is not to house children in county-run adult jails, at minimum Florida counties should adopt the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) standards for protecting children. Last spring Florida lawmakers passed SB 2112 allowing county commissions to place children charged as juveniles in adult jails. While other counties have taken over control of juvenile detention since passage of SB 2112, only the Polk County Sheriff's Department has done so under the Florida Model Jail Standards rather than the standards of the DJJ, which are designed to meet the unique needs of children. Members of the coalition have called on county leaders to show leadership in rejecting the law, citing Polk County jail as an example of a larger problem.
UK: Teens have say on youth
centre closures bid
YOUNG people voiced their concerns at a heated public meeting about proposals to shut three youth centres. Bracknell Forest Council is suggesting closing Whitegrove youth centre, in Warfield, Trax, in North Ascot, and Edgbarrow, in Crowthorne, because of low attendance. The move is part of a bid to save £250,000, cutting spending on youth services in 2012/13 to £800,000 and leading to a loss of about three out of 23 jobs. But about 20 teenagers, who attended the meeting on Friday with Cllr Garath Barnard, the council's executive member for children and young people, expressed concerns about travelling to other centres. Dr Barnard said the council could run more sessions from its mobile youth bus - currently out four nights a week.
Canada: More working poor in
Tri-Cities: Local schools seeing increased demand for youth workers
The number of vulnerable Tri-Cities students is on the rise and climbing quickly. The social service index shows a 19-per-cent jump in the number of children and youth who were in care or whose families were on income assistance between 2007 and 2009. Similarly, a 2010 study of local kindergarten students shows a 43-per-cent increase in neighbourhood vulnerability rates since 2004. Likewise, in a 2010 study of Tri-Cities Grade 4 students, 27 per cent reported low health and well-being. School District 43 assistant superintendent Julie Pearce said the 2011 Child Poverty Report Card, produced by youth advocacy coalition First Call, also mirrors what's happening in the district. "B.C. has the highest rate of working poor - that's poor children living in families where one parent does work full time," Pearce said at Tuesday's school board meeting.
Many Self-Harming Youth Get
Inadequate Mental Health Care
Many adolescents who are treated in emergency departments for deliberately harming themselves do not receive adequate mental health assessments or follow-up community care, according to research published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Jeffrey A. Bridge, Ph.D., of the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of national Medicaid claims data to determine the rates and adjusted risk ratios (aRRs) for mental health assessments and subsequent care for 3,241 youth aged 10 to 19 treated in emergency departments for deliberate self-harm. The researchers found that 72.9 percent of patients were discharged into the community; 39 percent of these had a mental health evaluation in the emergency department and 43 percent received follow-up outpatient mental health care. Data showed that follow-up care was directly related to recent outpatient (aRR, 2.58) and inpatient (aRR, 1.33) mental health care and inversely related to Hispanic ethnicity (aRR, 0.78) and residing in an area with medium-to-high poverty rates (aRR, 0.84). "These findings highlight the need for the development of strategies to promote emergency department mental health assessments, strengthen the training of physicians in pediatric mental health and adolescent suicide prevention, and timely transitions to outpatient mental health care," the authors write.
Michigan: At-risk youth program
A program designed to help working parents and at-risk youths was cut, adding pressure to struggling families. Tuscola County Human Development Commission’s (HDC) “before and after school care program” at the Generations – Mary Ann Vandemark building at 430 Montague Ave., Caro, was eliminated in January. Besides providing a safe environment for children and care services, the youths in the program also occasionally interacted with those in the adult day-care program housed in another part of the building.
Congressman Dale Kildee, who strongly supported the program, wasn’t able to ensure funding for it to continue. The money for the program was “earmarked funds,” and that term has gotten a bad name, explained HDC Executive Director Lori Offenbecher. “The program received $100,000 from the Department of Juvenile Justice for at-risk youth,” she said, noting there weren’t enough other funds to continue offering the service. “Stopping the funding pulled the rug out from under us.” Although necessary, without that federal funding the program cannot afford to operate.
Florida: SandyPines youth
treatment center looking to expand
Officials from SandyPines treatment center off County Line Road met with Martin County planners last month to begin the permitting process for an $8 million expansion that would almost double its current size and add dozens of employees to the payroll. John McCarthy, chief executive officer of the for-profit residential psychiatric treatment facility for children and youth, says the 50,000-square-foot facility and the Martin County school housed within it are already bursting at the seams. "Right now we have 88 beds, which have been pretty much fully utilized for over a year, and there's a waiting list," he said. "So there's no where to grow unless we expand." The approximately 40,000-square-foot expansion will include room for 38 additional beds and a new school building for the center, which opened in 1990. The current campus, known as Riverbend Academy, has a total of eight classrooms serving elementary through high-school students scattered around the hospital. McCarthy hopes the completely separate school will give patients at the facility a greater appreciation for their educational opportunities.
Nebraska bill would expand foster
care benefits for young adults who age out with little support
Teenagers who age out of Nebraska's foster care system could qualify for medical benefits, college financial aid and other help adjusting to adulthood until they turn 21, under a bill in the Legislature. The measure by Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill would extend benefits to youths who age out of the state's foster care system at 19. The bill's future is uncertain because of other state funding priorities, but McGill says it would create long-term savings by reducing the number of young adults in prison, who are homeless or have unplanned pregnancies. The Department of Health and Human Services says the number of children aging out of the system has increased in recent years, from 186 in fiscal 2006 to 200 during the fiscal year that ended in June.
Oregon: Sen. Wyden tours Portland
foster care facility
We've all heard “It takes a village to raise a child," but one local group is taking that to new heights. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden toured the Bridge Meadows foster care facility in North Portland Saturday. Adoptive families, children formerly in foster care, and seniors support one another in the community, which takes up a full city block. Resident Krista Reed said living around the children has changed her life. "Taking care of them while the mothers are out is fantastic because they all love us so much,” she said, “you get all this love." Bridge Meadows offers apartments and houses, as well as education and recreational facilities. It has been open for ten months. It’s one of only three such communities in the country.
UK: Bid to boost care for looked
More looked after children will live with families if plans to close a care home are agreed. Leicestershire County Council wants to increase the number of children placed with foster carers or in family settings and as a result, is considering closing Littlehill House Children's Home in Wigston. Every looked after child receives tailored support and residential care would still be used but only when it is the most appropriate option. The need for homes such as Littlehill House has also declined as more children are being supported earlier to prevent them coming into the care system. The council's cabinet will discuss the proposed closure at a meeting next Friday (10th). We want to ensure that more children in care live in family settings such as foster care but it's important to stress that residential care does play an important role and would still be used if it is in a child's best interests.
FRIDAY 3 FEBUARY
Ireland: Minister Fitzgerald
confirms licence to operate 116000 Missing Children’s Hotline awarded to
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald TD has today confirmed a licence to operate the 116000 Hotline for Missing Children has been allocated to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The Minister said: “Under EU telecoms rules agreed in 2009, the 116000 number is reserved in all EU member states for a missing children hotline. As Minister I committed to work with relevant Departments and agencies to seek to establish this Hotline in Ireland in 2012.” “Late last year I established a cross-sectoral Project Team, including representatives of my own Department, the Department of Justice and Equality, ComReg and an Garda Síochána to examine how to progress this Hotline, including, if appropriate with NGO involvement.” The Hotline service will operate on two levels – the reporting of a missing child to the Gardaí, and the provision of emotional support to parents of missing children.
Maryland: Advocates voice
concerns over embattled foster care provider
Advocates for Maryland's abused and neglected youths said Wednesday that the state's second-largest foster care placement company failed the children in its care by allowing the qualification assessments of the homes they live in to lapse. Ed Kilcullen, director for Maryland's network of Court Appointed Special Advocates, said he is alarmed that the Hyattsville-based Contemporary Family Services did not document annual recertification for some of its homes, including providing up-to-date records such as criminal background clearances. The state has issued a pending sanction against the company that could block new referrals for foster care placement. "It's really incumbent on every one of us to be concerned," Kilcullen said. "These are children who, through no fault of their own, are involved in a complex legal system. We really want to take whatever steps we can to provide rights that every child is entitled to, specifically to grow up in a safe home."
Singapore: New 'small homes' for
children needing help
To help more children who need specialised attention from their caregivers, the Government will pump $13 million into setting up six small-group children's homes over the next four years. Two of these homes will be set up in August.
Arkansas: Escape from youth
lockup under review
Questions remain about how two juveniles escaped from a detention center in Dermott last month and the incident is under investigation, the state Division of Youth Services director told legislators Wednesday. “We are looking into this,” DYS Director Ron Angel told lawmakers. “We have some concerns.” The two teenagers escaped from the Southeast Arkansas Regional Juvenile Program’s Dermott Treatment Unit on Jan. 23. One of the youths, 18-year-old Noah Miller, was captured a few days later in Montgomery County after he called his mother saying he was tired of running and hungry. The other escapee, identified as Alex Amador, has not been located. The Fort Smith Police Department said this week Amador has ties to Van Buren and Fort Smith. Angel told lawmakers Wednesday he suspects the 19-year-old with gang connections might be in Texas. Miller has been charged with second-degree escape and is currently in the Chicot County jail
UK: Further cuts to secure
children's home places announced
The number of custodial places in secure children's homes (SCH) is to be cut again due to falling custody levels, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) has announced. A total of 166 beds will be commissioned from 1 April, once the majority of contracts come to an end on 31 March, down 17 beds on the current figure of 183 – in 2002, the YJB commissioned 274 secure children's homes places. SCHs are generally used to accommodate young offenders aged 12 to 14, girls up to the age of 16, and 15- to 16-year-old boys who are deemed to be vulnerable. Frances Done, YJB chair, told CYP Now that there are fewer younger children being sentenced to custody, part of a wider fall in custody levels.
Canada Must Give First Nations
Children Equal Rights
Six Indigenous youth ambassadors from across Canada will meet with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) next week to urge to the UNCRC to pressure Canada to end inequities faced by First Nations children. The youth will outline their concerns at a news conference in Toronto tomorrow held by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (Caring Society) in advance of their departure for Geneva. The news conference is being hosted by the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth in Ontario.
The youth ambassadors will explain to the UNCRC how Canada discriminates against them in many areas, including education, health, child welfare, culture and languages. They want the UN to pressure Canada to end this inequality so that First Nations children will have the same opportunities as other children in Canada to grow up in safe homes, attend clean, well-built schools, and to be healthy and proud of who they are.
Quality ratings to be assigned to
Georgia day-care centers
Georgia is scheduled to start in 2013 publishing quality ratings for day-care centers. Ratings will be based on information including staff qualifications and student-to-teacher ratios, reports the Macon Telegraph. “Parents will be able to identify the type of program they want to go to based on their rating, similar to food ratings for restaurants,” Laura Johns, director of the state Department of Early Care and Learning Quality Initiatives (DECAL), said Tuesday at a state House Children and Youth Committee. Ratings will also include information on health and learning curricula for children and the center’s level of engagement with parents, the Telegraph reported. About 550 of the state's roughly 6,700 day-care centers have signed up for a Quality Rated orientation this year, the newspaper said.
UK: Youth crime strategy
SUSSEX Police is changing the way it deals with crimes in children's homes. The force is using a practice called "community resolution" to deal with offences committed by children in care. The practice involves getting victims to reflect on the harm the crime has caused. They then propose ways the offender can put the harm right without receiving a criminal record. Chief Inspector Ian Pollard said: "Community resolution delivers immediate justice for the victim and makes the offender take responsibility for their action. "It will also help police officers give care workers a greater understanding of what will happen when they call the police and highlight the different options when dealing with challenging behaviour in young people."
Australia: Funding cuts ‘will
leave NSW kids on street’
GOVERNMENT cuts to the New South Wales Foster care allowance will put more teenagers on the streets, a support group for carers warns. Since January 1, the $622 a fortnight foster care allowance for over-16s has been slashed by $212. Foster parents Helen and Brian MacDonald today told Fairfax they would no longer look after two teenagers in their care because of the state funding cuts, which came into place on January 1. The president of the Foster Parents Support Network, Sue O'Connor, said other couples were unlikely to follow the MacDonald's example. However, she feared the reduced allowance would discourage parents from fostering over-16s in the future. "If you didn't love the kids like your own then you wouldn't be a foster parent," Ms O'Connor told AAP. "(But) what I'm hearing from carers is that if they asked me to take a 16- or 17-year-old and give them a home, I'm going to say no. "It is the most difficult age to place now, because of everything that comes with these kids, so it is going to be even harder."
WEDNESDAY 1 FEBRUARY
Task force: Foster care reform
begins with funding
Adding to the possible reforms of Oklahoma's child-welfare system, the legislatively created Foster Care System Improvement Task Force has pitched in its suggestions starting with "adequately funding" the recommendations. The task force was created by House Bill 1359 by Rep. Ron Peters, R-Tulsa and Sen. Rick Brinkley, R-Owasso, to examine the foster care system against federal outcomes and identify areas of improvement. The 23-member group was led by Jay Scott Brown, a board member for the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, and Linda Terrell, the executive director of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. Both of those child advocacy groups provided staff support. No state funding was used for the study. Terrell and Brown presented the group's recommendations to the oversight commission of the Department of Human Services Jan. 24. "It's time for our children to be safe, and it's time for our state to step up and take care of our kids," Terrell said.
South Africa: Carers in crisis
Hundreds of children and young people in care centres are at the mercy of the department of social development for much-needed funding. Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), nongovernment social services Free State and the Free State Care in Action, which represents more than 40 organisations in the province, have been trying since 2002, to get the province to pay subsidies on time and increase funding according to inflation. The situation is so severe that the NGOs are considering approaching the Constitutional Court for help. The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) struck the department’s case off the roll in December. The department, headed by MEC Sisi Ntombela, had lodged an appeal against the Bloemfontein High Court decision in which Judge Ian van der Merwe ruled that the present methodology for funding was not compliant with the Constitution and the Children’s Act. The court ruled that it was irrational, unreasonable and inefficient. The SCA struck Ntombela’s case off the roll and upheld Van der Merwe’s ruling, It instructed the department to sit and negotiate with the NGOs to find a solution to the funding shortfall.
US: Roxbury man, housing agency
manager to be honored for work with youth
A longtime Roxbury resident and family service manager for the Boston Housing Authority will be recognized tonight by a national nonprofit that advocates for the rights of children and youth workers. At a ceremony in a New York City Hotel, Gregory Davis will receive one of the National Child Labor Committee’s Lewis Hines Awards for Service to Children and Youth, which are given to “individuals who, either as professionals or volunteers, give of themselves and go the extra mile for the well-being of young people,” an event announcement said. A panel of judges selects the winners, which each receive $1,000, from among hundreds of nominations submitted each year by business, community and nonprofit leaders, officials said. Davis will be honored for his work to provide youth living in public housing developments run by the city’s housing authority with alternatives to drugs and violence, according to a press release. Over the past two decades, Davis developed and spearheaded groundbreaking programs for the organization, officials said.
Sweden: Youth suicide rate
Suicide is the leading cause of death between the ages of 15 and 24, shows statistics from the National Board of Health and Welfare. But while the total number of suicides in Sweden has decreased by about 20 per cent over the past 15 years, the death rate has not fallen for those aged under 25. And the number of suicide attempts among young people has increased over the last ten years. The organisation Children's Rights in Society (BRIS) have noticed an increase in mental illness among the children who call in to their support number. “It's very common for children and young people to express that they do not want to live anymore,” says Karin Johansson at BRIS, to news agency TT. She thinks it is important to break the taboo that surrounds suicide, that adult dare to ask their child if they suspect that the child is unwell.
UK: Ofsted plans new inspection
system for child protection teams
A new inspection regime for child protection teams that will include inspectors talking directly to children and their families has been published by Ofsted.
Under the framework, which will come into effect in May, inspectors will also shadow social workers while working with children and their families and observe multi-agency working. The watchdog, which is responsible for regulating care services for children and young people, said inspection teams would work unannounced with frontline social workers and managers over a two-week period and would work alongside them to view case files and scrutinise the support provided for a child.
LA to allow press, public into
child abuse cases
The presiding judge of Los Angeles' juvenile courts says he will allow better access for the press and public on hearings for child abuse and foster care cases. The Los Angeles Times reports Judge Michael Nash says the news media is presumed to have a legitimate interest that allows them into hearings. Members of the public would have to demonstrate legitimacy or get consent from the child or the child's attorney to attend. If either party objects, and cites harm to the child, news media and the public can be booted from court. Children's Law Center of California represents the vast majority of children in the dependency system and may appeal the order. Executive director Leslie Starr Heimov says initial hearings to determine level of access should be closed.
Illinois: It's not 'Catholic'
Social Services any more
As of Feb. 1, 2012, Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois will become Christian Social Services of Illinois (CSS). CSS has chosen to become independent of the Catholic Diocese of Belleville in order to adhere to the new State of Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act and to avoid closing the agency. The focus of the premier social services agency will continue to be high quality services, which include foster care, residential treatment care for children, residential care for the aged, daycare, senior employment, clinical counseling services, pregnancy care and adoption services. The primary concern of the agency is the children and families served. By becoming an independent, non-denominational agency, CSS can continue to offer much needed services throughout the area. The mission and values of Christian Social Services will remain the same.
Australia: Youth suicides linked
to family violence
A youth suicide inquiry has been told high rates of violence in the Northern Territory traumatise children and increase the risk they will take their own lives. The Children's Commissioner Howard Bath told the inquiry that there are astonishingly high rates of violence against women in particular. He says children often witness such violence. "Exposure to trauma and violence leads adults to have an impaired ability to regulate emotions and impulses," he said. Dr Bath said many of the youth suicides were the result of sudden responses to emotional stress. "This immersion in violence has terrible developmental consequences for children and adolescents," he said. "Where a small child is not given a safe and secure relationship base they will always have difficulties managing emotions and impulses, especially when under stress."
Missouri: Hope Children's Home is
the first of its kind in area
Hope Children's Home, an emergency foster home, now provides help there for children who are removed from their own homes and need immediate care. Before the opening of the home, there wasn't another option like it in the area for children who quickly needed a place to go, said Dr. Dawn Caruso, president of the home. Some would have to sit for hours in the local offices of the Missouri Department of Social Services Children's Division, a police station or an emergency room before being placed in a foster home, she said. Right now the home can hold six children. By summer, Caruso said there is hope enough money can be raised to install a sprinkler system in the house, and that number can climb to 12.
UK: Fostering services in need of radical reform
Fostering services in England and Wales are in need of radical reform, according to a report published by Policy Exchange, the independent educational charity. The report says that in some instances severely disadvantaged children are waiting for over a year for a foster placement and that the life chances for many children in the system are appalling. The report – Fostering Aspirations – notes a 16% increase in the number of children in a foster placement during 2006-2011 and that the needs of children in foster care are becoming more varied and more challenging. Combined with a shortage of carers, this has led to a situation where there are limited foster homes available. According to the report, children can be placed with carers inadequately qualified to help them or far away from their birth family. In one case, a child from London was found to be being fostered in Cornwall. Based on interviews with children in care and foster carers, information from freedom of information requests and analysis of existing research, the report found concerns over the inconsistent level of financial support available to the carer and the lack of contact between the carer and social worker. Despite the frequent breakdowns of inappropriate placements, local authorities can still be reluctant to turn to private and third sector providers. Acting as both purchaser and supplier of fostering services, many local authorities display a bias towards in-house provision. This is even true when non-local authority providers might deliver better outcomes for the child in question.