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30 OCTOBER

UK: Children's homes fear closure in face of back pay bills for overnight carers

A number of children's homes fear they could face closure due to a change in the interpretation of the law on pay for overnight carers, ministers have been warned. The Independent Children's Homes Association said a poll of 63 of its members – which include residential homes, residential children's schools, short break or respite services - found a quarter believe their organisations could face closure if they do not get help with back pay bills for staff which have come as a result of the change. The Association has joined forces with learning disability charity Mencap to highlight its concerns. Since 1999, care homes operated under advice that time spent asleep by care staff in residential homes and supported living residences did not count as work time for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage (NMW), Mencap said. The payment of a flat-rate ''on call'' allowance had been the norm across the sector ever since, it said. But following two employment tribunals, new guidance in October last year recognised that the previous guidance was wrong and the NMW should be paid for sleep time instead. The back pay bill for sleep in the learning disability sector alone is estimated to be around £400 million, the charity said. It has warned that many homes could face insolvency. 

Denmark: Government gets tough on juvenile crime

A new initiative entitled ‘Every action has consequences’ was presented this morning by justice minister Søren Pape Poulsen and social minister Mai Mercado. Fifteen concrete measures make up the package. In one of the measures, a new category has been created that enables children as young as 12 years old to be punished if they commit crimes. At present, the minimum age at which a child can be officially treated as a criminal is 15. “Children shan’t be sent to prison, but there ought to be more and better ways to put together a tailor-made program for the individual that gets them out of criminality,” the government writes in its initiative. Lowering the criminal age has been high on the list for a number of parties in parliament, and the government has gone some way to meet this wish. “We’ve been fighting for some time now to implement quick and obvious consequences the first time a young person goes astray,” said Poulsen. Another of the concrete proposals is the setting up of a juvenile crime board in each police district under the auspices of a judge. The board will also have representatives from the police and municipality. It is then up to the police to decide whether a case should be referred to the board or not, and that should take place latest ten days after a suspected crime has been committed. Cases should be handled by the board five weeks later at the latest. Punishments such as washing cars, cleaning and other similar tasks could be given to law-breakers. There are also initiatives designed to place greater responsibility on parents of juvenile criminals, for instance making parents responsible for ensuring that young people attend school or out-of-school institutions. 

Australia: Teen boy handcuffed by staff shortly after suicide attempt

A distressed teenage boy at the Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in Townsville was handcuffed by staff shortly after a suicide attempt had left him unconscious and convulsing. The disturbing account is one of seven serious incidents of self harm or attempted suicide detailed in official records obtained by 7.30 under right to information laws. The internal documents reveal some staff doubt the sincerity of self-harm attempts and believe they are a deliberate ploy by young people. The records cover a four-year period from 2013 to 2016 and reveal more violent and dangerous incidents involving young people and staff. The Queensland Government fought for nine months to keep the records secret, with the Department of Justice arguing their release would jeopardise the security, order and industrial relations inside the Townsville facility. The Information Commissioner disagreed and has forced the department to release the documents. 

Virtual reality headsets could put children’s health at risk

Researchers have warned that virtual reality headsets could pose risks to users, particularly children. The scientists, based at Leeds University, believe continued use of VR sets could trigger eyesight and balance problems in young people unless changes are made to devices. The warning comes as major companies including Facebook and Google outline plans to expand heavily in the field, while hardware companies have started promoting devices that turn mobile phones into head-mounted VR viewers.
The study by the Leeds researchers – who have been working in close collaboration with British VR companies – is one of the first to be carried out into the impact of virtual reality sets on users. “In a VR device, a virtual three-dimensional world is displayed on a 2D screen and that places strain on the human visual system,” said Mark Mon-Williams, professor of cognitive psychology at Leeds University. “In adults, that can lead to headaches and sore eyes. But with children, the long-term consequences are simply unknown.” There may be some fairly simple solutions to the problems we have uncovered. Nevertheless, an immense change lies ahead about we see things. We want to make sure that it is implemented correctly from the start and, to be fair, so does the VR industry which takes this kind of study very seriously.”  

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27 OCTOBER

UK children who need mental health services face 'postcode lottery'

Children needing mental health care are forced to endure waits of up to 18 month for treatment while four in 10 psychiatric services for young people are failing, according to the health service regulator. The Care Quality Commission (CQC), after surveying mental health care for children in England, said that in one case young people were forced to wait as long as 493 days for treatment and 610 days for family therapy. Elsewhere, services were setting their own targets for how quickly children should be seen, the CQC said, which varied wildly depending on a postcode lottery. Dr Paul Lelliott, the lead for mental health at the CQC, praised the dedication of NHS mental health care staff but added: “We must also address those times when a child or young person feels let down or not listened to and make sure the same level of support is available to each and every one of them.” Labour said the report showed an “abject failure of children and young people” who were in urgent need. The Department of Health said it was investing in improving the services, but said it recognised more work was needed. The research found that crisis care for suicidal young people or those with severe mental health problems was sometimes available only between 9am and 5pm, with night-time care provided by adult psychiatrists who lacked expertise in children’s mental health. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, last year admitted child and adolescent mental health services were “possibly the biggest single area of weakness in NHS provision at the moment” and Theresa May has said she is also particularly focused on improving the services, calling it one of the key “burning injustices” in UK society.

Canada: New protocol with Sarnia-Lambton CAS and area First Nations

Aamjiwnaang: As the shadow of the Sixties Scoop and following dislocations looms over them, First Nation leaders here are moving closer to taking control of child welfare for their own families. The signing of a new agreement between Aamjiwnaang, near the south-western Ontario city of Sarnia, with the local Children’s Aid Society marks the end of years of discussion and the start of a new relationship between the agency and community, leaders told residents at a public meeting recently. The new protocol promises the Sarnia-Lambton CAS will consult with the First Nation on all matters involving its families and children, and that the community will participate in choosing any necessary placements for its children. If children must leave their homes, the agreement states they will remain in their community whenever possible, and if Aamjiwnaang children/youth are in CAS care, connections to their culture and community will be a priority. Citizens will also be involved in all planning and delivery of services to local families. “This will help build the capacity of our community to look after our own children,” said Janice Rising, recently-retired program supervisor at Aamjiwnaang for Mnaasged Child & Family Services, an Indigenous agency providing offering family support, child and youth programming along with counselling and advocacy for families at risk. Completing this agreement is the end of around eight years of discussions and is “quite an accomplishment” in getting the approval of Chief and Council, she says.

New Zealand: New Govt will remove 'vulnerable' from Ministry for Vulnerable Children's name

One of the first casualties of Jacinda Ardern's new Government will be the word 'vulnerable', which is being axed from the name of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children. Newshub understands Minister for Children Tracey Martin will rebrand it as simply the Ministry for Children: Oranga Tamariki. It's understood to have the backing of new Child Poverty Reduction Minister Jacinda Ardern and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni. The ministry in its current state was the brainchild of National's former Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, and replaced the former Child, Youth and Family service. When she launched the new agency, Ms Tolley faced a backlash from the sector for calling it the Ministry for Vulnerable Children. Many disapproved of the word 'vulnerable' being in the ministry's name because it was stigmatising for those young Kiwis using the service, and focused on the problem rather than the solution. Even Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft refused to use the name, instead opting for its Maori name Oranga Tamariki, which translates as 'the wellbeing of our young'. Mr Becroft preferred it being called the 'Ministry for Children's Futures' or the 'Ministry of Child and Youth Wellbeing'. 

Ireland: Almost half of children detained in centre at risk of abuse or neglect

Over half of the young people detained in Oberstown Children Detention Campus have a “mental health need” and one in eight have substance misuse problems, a study of the detainees has found. The survey is the first of its kind in the campus and it was conducted over the first few months of this year. “As well as offering insights into offending and sentencing, the data highlights the level of adversity and trauma young people have experienced, including the loss of parents, neglect and abuse, and multiple care placements,” the report said. A total of 69 young people, all male, between the ages of 14 and 18, were detained in Oberstown during the time the survey took place. “The findings confirm that young people in detention have a wide range of complex needs often requiring a holistic, multi-agency response,” the report said.By understanding the origins, needs and trajectories of these young people, it is hoped that the necessary services and interventions can assist them to move on from their offending behaviour.

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25 OCTOBER

Report looks at the mental health needs of care leavers in England

Last year 11,000 young people (aged 17 and 18) left local authority care in England. Barnardo's has just published a report into the mental health needs of this group, and provides a picture of how, and if, these needs are being met. The report found that:

• 46% of the Barnardo's care leaver cases which were reviewed as part of the research involved young people who in the opinion of the personal adviser had mental health needs;
• 1 in 4 of the case files involved a young person who had faced a mental health crisis since leaving care;
• 65% of young people workers identified as having mental health needs were not currently receiving any statutory service.

In light of the research, Barnardo's is calling for a rethink on how we support the mental heath needs of these vulnerable young people. Recommendations from the report include:

• Embedding mental health workers within leaving care teams
• Developing youth-specific services aimed at those in their teenage years and early 20s
• Working to upskill those in leaving care services to understand mental health better

Read the full report on the Barnardo's website

British Columbia: Ministry 'working hard' to increase support for youth aging out of care

The province says its "working hard" to improve supports for youth aging out of government care, including increasing age limits for financial support and expanding its tuition waiver program. Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy said her ministry is hoping to have legislative changes in time for the next provincial budget, which could come as early as February, 2018. "We need to give more support to youth in care," Conroy said. "It's a commitment in my mandate letter." Conroy said the government was looking at "a lot of options," including expanding its post-secondary tuition waiver program to trades schools and increases in funding for youth after they leave care. In B.C., youth "age out" of the foster care system at 19 years, which critics and advocates say leaves young adults vulnerable and at risk. For those who qualify, financial support is available while enrolled in school, life skills training or rehabilitation programs through the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program. Youth who were voluntarily placed in care or were only temporarily wards of the state do not qualify for AYA. "We're hoping that they will expand the policy to include people who've experienced voluntary care agreement statuses and temporary care statuses," said Ruby Barclay, a spokesperson with the advocacy group First Call B.C. Changes can't come soon enough, according to First Call B.C., which estimates youth who have been in foster care are 200 times more likely to become homeless than their peers who have not.

New Zealand: Age children can stay in state care rising to 21

Young people in state care will soon have a right to stay in or return to care until they turn 21. The decision, announced today, aims to give young people in state care the same kind of ongoing support from foster parents that other young people get from their real parents. Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said it would cost "millions", but would save more in the long term if it helps young people to get good qualifications, then move into good jobs, and acquire the life skills they will need to live independently. The number of young people in state care has risen in the past three years from 4960 in June 2013 to 5312 in June this year, and the proportion who are Maori has risen from 54.7 per cent to 60.4 per cent. Legislation is already passing through Parliament to raise the age of leaving state care from 17 to 18 from next April, when the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki is to replace the current Child, Youth and Family service (CYF). But Tolley said the Government always planned to consider raising the age further in a second reform bill containing other details of the new child protection system, which is due to be introduced before Christmas. Tolley said the shift to age 21 was likely to be phased in over the five-year introduction of the new child protection system. The system will likely be phased-in starting 2018. She said young people leaving care would also be able to get "transitional support and advice" to age 25.

African leaders join forces in pledge to stamp out child marriage

African political leaders, activists, and local chiefs joined forces on Monday to commit to ending child marriage in West and Central Africa, the region with the highest child marriage rate in the world. More than a third of girls in the region are married under the age of 18, with the rate over 50 percent in six countries and up to 76 percent in Niger. Driven by factors including poverty, insecurity and religious tradition, marrying off girls once they reach puberty or even before is a deeply engrained social custom in much of West and Central Africa. The practice hampers global efforts to reduce poverty and population growth and has negative impacts on women’s and children’s health, educational achievements, and earnings, the World Bank has said. The conference in Senegal’s capital Dakar, which included government, civil society, and religious representatives from 27 countries, was the first gathering of its kind to address child marriage in the region.

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23 OCTOBER

UK: Government advisers moot virtual mental health lead for looked-after children

A single person at every council across England should be made responsible for championing the mental health needs of looked-after children, a group of experts established by government has said. An expert group set up last year by the Department of Health and the Department for Education in order to "develop care pathways that will support an integrated approach to meeting the needs of looked-after children with mental health difficulties" is due to report its findings to government next month. Ahead of that, the group has revealed that one of its central recommendations will be the creation of a "virtual mental health lead" (VMHL), akin to the virtual school head teacher for looked-after children, which became a legal requirement through the Children and Families Act 2014. The group, which is co-chaired by Peter Fonagy and Dame Christine Lenehan, said it envisages the role having the same principles of championing the needs of young people, monitoring progress in local areas, intervening where needed and promoting best practice, but with a focus on mental health and wellbeing. "We would see the two roles working closely together," a statement issued by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (Scie), which is supporting the expert group, said. 

USA: Senate Foster Care Bill would incentivize kin, monitor private providers and child fatalities

Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee introduced a bill Wednesday that would incentivize kinship placements in foster care, establish national child welfare standards on worker caseloads, and require better assessment of both child fatalities and the performance of private providers. The Child Welfare Oversight and Accountability Act of 2017 was introduced by Senate Finance Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the committee’s ranking member. It comes on the heels of a committee investigation and report that highlighted the horrendous performance of The MENTOR Network, a for-profit foster care provider operating in several states, and lax state oversight practices when it comes to monitoring and licensing private providers. “The lack of oversight of the nation’s child welfare system, at both the state and federal level, is unacceptable,” said Hatch, in a statement announcing the bill. “The ultimate indictment of this system is there is so little oversight that the government can’t even confirm the gaps that caring advocates tell us are getting worse,” said Wyden, in a statement. “What’s even more outrageous is that efforts to fix flaws in the system have been held up by stonewalling in the United States Senate.” Wyden and Hatch would also initiate a path toward establishing national “caseload and workload” standards for child welfare workers. Among the standards to be developed: number of investigations per month by a caseworker, number of active cases, number of families getting preservation services and supervisor-to-caseworker ratios. 

Calls for UK-wide ban on smacking children after Scottish move

The children’s commissioners of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are calling for a UK-wide change in the law after the Scottish government confirmed its support for a ban on smacking children. Scotland is to become the first part of the UK to introduce an outright ban on the physical punishment of children, after the Scottish government said it would ensure that a member’s bill became law. John Finnie, the justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, has proposed removing the defence of “justifiable assault” from Scottish law, giving children the same legal protection as adults. Along with leading children’s charities, the children’s commissioners for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have welcomed the development but expressed concern that legal protection from assault could now vary depending on a young person’s location. Calling for the law to be changed at UK level, Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, said: “The current legislation in England, which grants an exemption from the law on common assault to allow the physical punishment of children, is outdated. It should be updated to reflect what the vast majority of parents believe: that hitting children is wrong and that there are better and more effective ways of disciplining children and encouraging positive behaviour.” The UK is one of only four EU countries that have not committed to legal reform over the physical punishment of children. According to section 58 of the Children Act 2004, it is illegal for a parent or carer to smack their own child, except where it amounts to “reasonable chastisement”. Corporal punishment in schools was banned by the Westminster parliament in 1986.

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20 OCTOBER

USA: Department of Juvenile Justice implements new family therapy program

Families are the focus of a new program in Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley aimed at preventing incarceration of children and teens in trouble with the law. The court service unit in Charlottesville handled 2029 juvenile complaints last year. The unit in Staunton handled about 1510. Probation officers, like Mike Neilson, are now referring some of the most high-risk juveniles to a new program called "multisystemic therapy,” or MST.” “A lot of times the family systems need a lot of work and all these things have differences that make kids act in certain ways and drive certain behaviors,” said Mike Neilson, probation officer. The Waynesboro-based MST team of therapists will work with children and their families within a 90 minute drive. The intensive, six month program focuses on the issues at home that put these children at risk of committing another crime or ending up behind bars. “They shouldn't have to go through a correctional center in order to get the education they need, to get the skills they need, to get any of the treatments they need if we can provide it for them in the community,” said Saundra Crawford, 25th District Court Service unit director. The MST therapy team will be available to those families 24 hours a day. The Department of Juvenile Justice plans to expand the MST program and add an alternative family intervention therapy to more than 100 communities across Virginia by the end of the year.

Ireland: Reforms to ease adoption for children in foster care

The restriction on the adoption of foster children born to married couples will be lifted from today after new legislation comes into effect. Up to now, if a child was born to married parents and placed in foster care, her or she was not eligible for adoption. This meant children could live with the same foster family for years without being formally adopted. Patricia Carey, chief of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, said this aspect of the legislation was extremely important. “A child would have no legal relationship with their foster family after they turn 18, so this change is expected to make a significant difference in the number of foster children that are adopted,” she said. There are approximately 6,000 children in long-term foster care. 

UK: Call for national foster care recruitment drive

Giving evidence before the education select committee, which is currently holding an inquiry into fostering, Alison Michalska said more needs to be done centrally to address the lack of high-quality foster carers in the system. Earlier this year The Fostering Network said 7,180 new carers are needed across the UK to replace those who leave and to increase the pool of carers to be able to provide suitable homes for the diverse range of children coming into care. A Department for Education-commissioned report into the fostering system published in July found that there was no clear government policy to deal with escalating recruitment problems. Appearing before MPs, Michalska said: "One of the things government could do is to get behind a national campaign for recruiting foster carers. To actually show the range of skills [required]. "I think that the more we can do to raise the profile of fostering as a worthwhile thing to do and such a valuable service. There could be more national campaigning to raise the awareness and the rewards also of being a foster carer. I think that would be really beneficial."  

Jamaica: Over 1,900 children diverted from State care

The Child and Family Support Unit (CFSU) of the Child Development Agency (CDA) has implemented strategies to successfully divert 1,901 children from becoming wards of the State. Speaking in a recent interview with JIS News, Team Leader at the CDA and Overseer in the Child Support Unit, Jean Duhaney, indicated that since the start of the year, there have been 1,924 cases where interventions took place. Of that number, she noted that 23 children ended up in State care. “One of the major reasons why some children end up in State care facilities is the lack of information, especially as it relates to alternative disciplinary measures,” said Ms. Duhaney. She noted that the main thrust of the Diversion Programme, which began in 2009, is to keep these children who are at risk of being abused from ending up in State care facilities. The preferred alternative, she said, is to keep them within their family setting while providing the necessary training support to the families to deal with the challenges that they face.

UK needs coordinated strategy to tackle knife crime, says MP

Britain needs a 10-year, coordinated strategy to tackle knife crime among young people, similar to the successful long-term effort to reduce teenage pregnancy, the chair of an all-party group on knife crime has said. Instead of considering knife crime as mainly a police issue, the government should be bringing together those working in health, education and social media, Sarah Jones, the MP for Croydon Central told the Guardian. Without this kind of approach, which has proved effective in reducing rates of teenage pregnancy, the government will struggle to permanently reduce knife crime, she warned. “You can’t tackle it overnight and you can’t possibly say all knife crime happens because of just one thing. There are so many different factors at play. So we need someone in the centre to be holding the rings of a plan that goes across education, health, social media, mental health, that spans across it because otherwise it’ll go up and down as it has done.” Reducing knife crime will be difficult, but with sufficient determination Jones believes it can be done. “The thing that’s both positive and depressing at the same time is that a lot of these things we know the answers to. We can fix this. We can stop children dying if we actually have the will.”

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18 OCTOBER

Ireland: Minister Zappone announces additional Youth Funding of €1.5m

Katherine Zappone TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has announced extra funding of €1.5m to support the provision of youth services throughout the country. The announcement will bring overall investment by her Department in funding to both national and local youth work services to €58.9m. This additional funding will be used to support new youth projects in regions of the country where there is a pressing need.It will fill gaps where services do not exist and strengthen services in communities where there are growing numbers of young people. Making the announcement which is the result of Budget 2018 funding Minister Zappone added: “These extra funds will be targeted at regions of the country where there is an identified requirement for services to meet the needs of young people. Through sports, arts and other activities this funding will give our young people a voice. It will also allow drug prevention and awareness programmes which promote health and well-being. As Minister I have seen at first hand the impact of this work on young lives in communities right across the country. This funding is an acknowledgement of the hard work and dedication of the 1,400 staff and 40,000 volunteers who work with our young people. This further investment of €1.5m to support the provision of youth services in addition to the €5.5m increase secured in 2017 demonstrates the Government’s on-going commitment to youth services.”

New Zealand: Childcare lessons for boys encouraged

Encouraging infant-nurturing skills among at-risk boys could help to reduce family violence, a Waikato public health nurse says. Judy Barnett says life-threatening injuries suffered by babies and infants frequently came by a male member of the household, and often not the child's father. "It made me wonder how big the gaps are in our community's knowledge around infant care," she told the Public Health Association's conference in Christchurch. "Possibly, the reason for this is because the men could not recall a sense of nurturing from their own childhoods." In her work with the Waikato District Health Board, she had been regularly visiting a school for boys who had issues with behaviour and home life, and were often under state care. She designed a programme for them around the basic care and needs of babies. Ms Barnett said she was pleasantly surprised at how much the boys retained. "But the most heartening part of this experience was seeing the boys identifying with and taking pride in knowledge around nurturing." She said the programme, which started as a five-week pilot, had been extended for two more terms. 

USA: Drug epidemic drives increase in foster care numbers, commissioner says

More and more West Virginia children are being placed in foster care because of drug-related issues, and the state is struggling to retain enough child welfare workers to keep up with demand, the head of the Bureau for Children and Families told lawmakers Tuesday. As of Oct. 1, more than 6,100 West Virginia children are in foster care, acting BCF Commissioner Linda Watts told members of the Joint Committee on Children and Families. Watts said the number of children in foster care has risen even since she last spoke to the committee in August — mainly because of opioids. Watts said approximately 82 percent of children in foster care are there because of parents with substance abuse-related issues, such as an overdose or prescription drug abuse. West Virginia’s foster care rolls have increased over the past few years, according to reports on the bureau’s website. In September 2012, there were 4,175 children in foster care. In September of this year, that number was 6,161, according to the reports.

UK: Child welfare reforms: Government want children taken into care to be fast-tracked into permanent adoption

Children taken into care will to be fast-tracked into permanent adoption away from their natural parents under Government plans to change the way vulnerable young people are looked after by the state. In a wide-ranging package of reforms ministers intend to change the law to make it clear that courts and social workers must always pursue adoption when it is in a child’s best interest. The move is expected to result in many more children being permanently adopted rather than being placed in foster homes in the hope that they could in future be re-united with their natural parents. However the plan faces strong opposition from social workers who claim the Government is pushing adoption to save money and have warned councils will feel compelled to meet centrally set targets, rather than acting in the best interests of children. Currently it can take up to 18 months for children in care to be adopted a time scale that ministers want to half. As part of the proposals the Government has also pledged to provide more support for adopted children and the parents who look after them.

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16 OCTOBER

Youth mental wellness centre officially opens in Prince George

The BC government declared the Foundry Prince George location open on Thursday along with dozens of community members and local residents. The $3 million wellness centre is set to provide struggling youth ages 12 to 24, and their families, with supports in battling mental illness. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy says places like Foundry is how the new NDP government wants to approach the stigma. “It’s about bringing all of the services together; mental health, substance use, access to primary care, as well as support systems like housing, counseling, and so on. We need to surround youth with all the services we possibly can in order to give them the best possible start to their lives.” Despite the previous Liberal government starting the initiative, Darcy adds it’s about taking ideas from around the world to utilize the best care possible. “There is absolutely more that we can do! One of our first announcements was that youth who were aging out of care would have free access to post-secondary education. That’s really a continuation of just giving the best possible opportunities in life for our most vulnerable young people.”

More Baltimore youths moving from adult to juvenile courts

The percentage of Baltimore youths charged as adults and then transferred to juvenile court has more than doubled since 2014, according to data from the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services. This is partly the result of a 2013 Juvenile Services policy, which ended the practice of holding Baltimore youths charged as adults in adult facilities. The 2013 policy was then broadened in 2015, when Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed House Bill 618 into law, ending the practice statewide of holding juveniles in adult facilities, with some exceptions. These laws were celebrated by many advocacy groups, whose support helped get them passed. "The fact that youth automatically charged as adults are getting their cases transferred down to the juvenile system is a good thing," said Christina Williams, director of public policy for Community Law In Action, a Baltimore-based nonprofit that advocates for community change. "It means that youth, who are often coming into the justice system with years of trauma, can receive services more quickly that will assist in rehabilitating them," she said.

UK: Disabled children hate crime reports increasing

Figures from police forces across the UK show there were 450 incidents reported last year, up from 181 in 2014-15, 5 live Investigates found. Families with disabled children described being targeted online and verbally abused in the street. The Home Office said the rise was due to better reporting and more victims willing to come forward. A disability hate crime is defined as anything from online abuse to physical violence in which the victim was targeted because of their disability. 5 live Investigates sent Freedom of Information requests to all 45 police forces in the UK, to find out how often these incidents were happening, and 29 of them provided full responses. Overall the number of disability hate crimes increased by 101%, from 1,531 in 2014-15, to 3,079 in 2016-17. But the crimes against children increased at an even greater rate. The incidents reported to police range from verbal and online abuse to arson and even violent, physical attacks. A Home Office spokesman said: "All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable and the UK has some of the strongest laws in the world to tackle it. "Our hate crime action plan has improved the response of law enforcement and the criminal justice system to these horrendous attacks. "We are still concerned that disability hate crime is significantly under-reported by victims, and that is why the government is working with community groups to raise awareness of how to report it amongst, disabled people, their carers and families."

California: New laws protect children, youth

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law three bills that recognize young people’s vulnerability to abuse and their capacity to grow and mature, Human Rights Watch said today. The bills, signed on October 11, 2017, will protect children in police custody, limit prison terms for youth and young adults, and offer young people a chance to rebuild their lives. “California is acting on research showing that our brains don’t mature until our mid-20s. These bills will ensure that the state’s youth are protected and given a second chance,” said Elizabeth Calvin, senior children’s rights advocate at Human Rights Watch. “California’s children and youth deserve the hope and real opportunities these new laws will give them.”  

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13 OCTOBER

USA: Gov. Brown vetoes internet access for juvenile halls and foster homes – for now

California Gov. Jerry Brown today vetoed A.B. 811, a bill that would have required the government to provide youth in state care – be they juvenile halls or foster homes – with reasonable access to computers and the Internet for educational purposes. In some cases, juveniles would also have been able to use computers to stay in touch with their families and for extracurricular and social activities. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Mike Gipson, was supported by the Youth Law Center, EFF, and Facebook, and received no opposition when it landed on the governor's desk. More than 250 supporters sent letters to the legislature and the governor asking for this bill to become law. The good news is that Brown took the concept to heart. In vetoing the bill [PDF], he left the door open for future legislation: "While I agree with this bill's intent, the inclusion of state facilities alone will cost upwards of $15 million for infrastructure upgrades. Also, the reasonable access standard in this bill is vague, and could lead to implementation questions on top of the potentially costly state mandate created by the legislation. I therefore urge the proponents to revisit the local aspects of this bill in the future, taking these concerns under advisement. In the meantime, I am directing the Department of Juvenile Justice to present a plan in the coming year to provide computer and Internet access as soon as is practicable, and that can be budgeted for accordingly.

Government of Canada takes action to address homelessness in the Montreal area

Youth homelessness is a challenge for every community in the country. The Government of Canada is committed to promoting innovation and investing in projects that give every Canadian, including youth, a real and fair chance at success. Today, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $129,248 to the community organization Cirque Hors Piste for its project Créations collectives. The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, announced the innovative project which uses circus arts as a social intervention and reintegration tool among youth who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Créations collectives is based on a "social circus" intervention model and aims to help marginalized youth transition to the workforce by developing skills like punctuality, discipline and time management. The Montreal organization received funding through the Innovative Solutions to Homelessness stream under the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). Cirque Hors Piste has entered into partnership agreements with various organizations such as Cirque du Soleil and the École de travail social de l'Université de Montréal. Given its rigorous approach, the project could serve as a model for other youth organizations working in different environments; the proposed approach includes the collection of data and the implementation of an action plan for each participant. The project is one of many to have received funding through the Innovative Solutions to Homelessness stream under the HPS. The overall funding to be allocated through this funding stream is approximately $12.75 million; $750,000 for microgrants and $12 million for contributions. 

UK: Ninety children taken into care each day, figures show

Ninety children are being taken into care every day in England and Wales and it's claimed social workers are "firefighting" the most serious cases late into the night. Prof Ray Jones, who works in social services improvement, says staff fear children slip through the net as they try to keep up with rising pressures. Latest government figures show 32,810 children were taken into care in 2017. Ministers said extra money was being targeted towards improving services. The total number of children in care is a record 72,670 – up 3% on 2016. Council bosses, who are responsible for child protection services, say it's the biggest rise in seven years. The Local Government Association, which is taking part in a conference on care services in Bournemouth, says it comes as children's services face a £2bn a year funding gap by 2020. Prof Jones said: "What I am hearing from social workers is that they are having to spend most of the time 'firefighting' with the most serious concerns that get presented to them. He added: "Secondly, something that social workers are telling me is that they are closing down cases very quickly or even turning them away. And they are not able to work through potential cases where children are unhappy and distressed, because they are having to concentrate on cases where there is an immediate danger." Richard Watts, chairman of the LGA's children and young people board, said: "Children's services are at a tipping point with growing demand for support combining with ongoing council funding pressures to become unsustainable. "Last year saw the biggest rise in the number of children in care for seven years. "With 90 children coming into care every day, our calls for urgent funding to support these children and invest in children and their families are becoming increasingly urgent."

Jamaica: CDA gets more help to deal with children in State care

The Child Development Agency (CDA) received a boost to its effort to strengthen its capacity to adequately address the needs of youth in care as well as those transitioning out of care. Twenty-nine officers from the CDA trained as Trainers in Life Skills in 2015, under the Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care (TLP-CSC) project recently participated in a refresher training session at the Alpha Boy's Institute in Kingston. The TLP-CSC project is a six year project that was initiated in 2014, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with the aim to improve the independent living outcomes of children in State care through direct interventions with children and strengthening of the capacity of the CDA. The project uses a multidimensional approach to preparing children in care of the State to transition into independent living, including life skills coaching, support for vocational skills training, mentoring and provision of transitional housing. The life skills component aims to equip children in State care with the necessary skills and knowledge for independent living.  

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11 OCTOBER

Shocking figures show there are now 124 million obese children worldwide

Experts call for action over unhealthy food as data shows more than tenfold rise in number of obese children over the past four decades. Childhood obesity is soaring across the world, increasing more than tenfold over the past four decades, putting many millions at risk of poor health and an early death, according to the biggest ever analysis of the data. Alongside the report, and also Monday’s story in the Guardian revealing that the global cost of obesity will be $1.2tn by 2025, the World Health Organisation is calling for every country to act, taking on Big Food to avoid the mounting human and economic costs of obesity-related ill-health in years to come. The new data from Imperial College London, which is published in the Lancet medical journal, shows that in 1975 there were five million obese girls, but by last year there were 50 million. The number of obese boys has risen from six million to 74 million in the same period. The largest increase in obese children and adolescents aged five to 19 since 1975 has been in East Asia, the affluent English-speaking countries of the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, an the Middle East and North Africa. As poor countries – particularly in East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean – have become wealthier, children who were mostly underweight have also become mostly overweight. 

South Africa: Nearly a billion rand to be spent on Gauteng social infrastructure

Over the next three years, the Gauteng Department of Social Development (GDSD) will spend R874 million on social infrastructure investment.Social Development MEC, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said “We know that social infrastructure development will enable universal access to social service delivery in response to the pressing needs of vulnerable groups of Gauteng citizens in particular. This includes access to Early Childhood Development Programmes by Gauteng’s children under five years of age, access to alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment programmes, access to residential and day-care programmes for our older persons and people with disabilities, access to victim empowerment programmes by women and children who have experienced abuse, access to child and youth care centres to ensure the safety and development of our children, and diversion of youth who have been in conflict with the law. Equally important is access to proper office accommodation with a conducive work environment for our employees,” explained Mayathula-Khoza.

Canada: Kingston Penitentiary tours paying dividends

City council will support another year of Kingston Penitentiary tours and the local United Way is excited knowing the programs the tickets are supporting are making a difference. In May 2016 the tours started in partnership with the Correctional Service Canada and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission. The tours ran from June to October and had 60,000 visitors. It generated a net profit of $640,000, of which half went to the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington and half went to destination marketing. So far this year there have been 80,579 visitors and the tours have generated $2,940,000 in revenue. Staff expects the tours will generate more than $3.3 million by the end of October when they are scheduled to end. The net profit is expected to be $1.5 million to be split 50/50 between the United Way KFLA and destination marketing. Bhavana Varma, president and CEO of the United Way KFLA, said the contributions are huge for their youth programing. "For us, this is money that we can invest in addition to the regular funding that we give agencies," Varma said. "This is also like an injection of some very special funds for innovative pilot programs that the community has designed and we're seeing the impact on the youth in our community. "We're starting to see declines in some of the issues that we are facing." Proof is in the numbers. Varma said the number of youth not in education, workplace or training has declined from 2,400 to 2,000. The programs include an awareness program designed by youth displayed around schools explaining to youth where they can go for support. Another program being supported is a family mediation counsellor. Out of 40 families last year who worked with a counsellor only two youth turned to the streets, Varma said.

UK: Train teachers on exclusion to spread best practice, think-tank urges

The best teachers need to be encouraged to work in pupil referral units in order to give the most vulnerable children a good education and create new benchmarks for working with children at risk of exclusion, a think-tank has said. A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research – called Making the Difference – argues that a career development programme that gives school leaders the skills needed to support pupils who have been or are in danger of exclusion could help thousands of vulnerable young people and save the state billions. The proposed programme would recruit teachers with some leadership experience and place them in leadership positions within "good" or "outstanding" rated alternative provision schools on two-year contracts. During their two-year placement they would undertake training about how best to re-engage excluded pupils and help them address challenges such as mental health needs and poor literacy and numeracy. After completing their placement, the programme would help them return to a leadership role in a mainstream school. The IPPR said the programme would help address the shortage of teachers with frontline experience in alternative provision and spread knowledge about how to prevent exclusions in mainstream schools.

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9 OCTOBER

Canada: Nunavut’s child and youth rep to review mental health services

Nunavut’s Representative for Children and Youth Office has launched a formal review of the territorial government’s mental health services for youth. The representative of children and youth, Sherry McNeil-Mulak, announced the review Oct. 5 – her office’s first since it formed two years ago. Concerns over Nunavut’s lack of mental health services have been raised in every community visited by McNeil-Mulak’s office, she said in an Oct. 5 release. “Through our individual advocacy cases, we have seen the serious impact that a lack of child and youth mental health services is having on young Nunavummiut,” McNeil-Mulak said. “This investigative review will give a clear picture of what it is like to be a young person in need of mental health services in this territory and make recommendations to the Government of Nunavut for needed improvements.” McNeil-Mulak pointed to articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which highlight the right to adequate health care, including mental health services. “With this review, we are working to ensure this right is upheld and respected,” she said. As part of its investigation, the office will conduct interviews with stakeholders and review extensive documentation, with the goal of developing “practicable” recommendations for the Government of Nunavut. The office has notified Nunavut’s health department of the upcoming review, which will start right away, said McNeil-Mulak, whose role is that of an independent officer of the legislative assembly. The review is expected to take a year to complete.

UK: Mothers who lose children to care ‘often care leavers themselves’

A significant percentage of mothers who repeatedly lose children to the care system for adoption are care leavers themselves, new research suggests. In a study which has now been published under the title 'Vulnerable Mother and Recurrent Care Proceedings', a team of researchers from Lancaster University examined the life histories of 354 young mothers living in 52 legal authority regions. Between them the mothers had appeared in a 851 care cases. This information was boosted with general population data and personal interviews with 72 women. They discovered that 40 per cent of the mothers involved in multiple care proceedings had themselves been in care homes or foster care. More than 53 per cent of the women had been sexually abused as children and 64 per cent had become mothers while still teenagers and struggled as a result, with little professional or family support. Many of the young mothers also had emotional problems as a result of traumatic childhoods. In the majority of cases (60 per cent), the children had been taken away by social workers immediately after birth.

USA: Online campaign expands services to help youth deal with mental health and substance abuse

An online peer-to-peer public awareness campaign aimed at helping Western New York youth deal with mental health and substance abuse is celebrating a successful first year and turning its focus towards expansion. JustTellOne.org launched in November 2016 as a home for video content, referral services, and online resources. It’s core message and content encourages teens and young adults age 14 to 26 who may be struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse to “just tell one” person about their issues as a step towards finding help. In less than a year, the website saw more than 33,000 page views and its videos on Facebook attained more than one million views. With that success under its belt, JustTellOne.org is expanding its services and staff in what it’s referring to as Phase II. Part of Phase II is the availability of JustTellOne.org’s tool kits for mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide in seven languages other than English. Doggett said the languages – which include Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, Karen, Nepalese, Somali, and Spanish – were chosen based on insight from Millennium Collaborative Care and other community partners.

Scottish commissioner: Raise age of criminal responsibility to 15

The Scottish government is planning to raise the age to 12 from its current level, which is the lowest in Europe, next year. This follows a raising of the minimum age for prosecution in Scotland from eight to 12 in March 2011. But children's commissioner Bruce Adamson says this will still leave Scotland lagging behind more than 40 countries, which have all set the age of criminal responsibility above the age of 12, including Columbia, Brazil and Norway. "I think most people would be quite shocked to hear that we're the lowest in the world still, and that 12, which the Government is putting forward as a solution, still puts us the lowest in the world," said Adamson in an interview with inews. He added: "I've been spending time in some of the Nordic countries that we like to compare ourselves to, and generally they set theirs at about 15. I think it needs to be somewhere between 12 and 18." A move to 15 would place Scotland's age of criminal responsibility significantly higher than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland where it is currently set at 10.  

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6 OCTOBER

Canada: Simeon Tsakapesh asks why inquiry on Innu children in foster care hasn't begun

Former Innu Nation deputy Grand Chief Simeon Tsakapesh is dismayed the inquiry into Innu children in foster care hasn't gone ahead yet. The inquiry was originally announced by the provincial government and then Innu Nation Grand Chief Anastasia Qupee, with both saying they would make every effort to have the inquiry initiated by Sept. 30, 2017. "I need some answers because I lost my son over their system so I need to know," Tsakapesh said at a mental health awareness event in Happy Valley Goose Bay on Wednesday. Tsakapesh called for the inquiry after his son Thunderheart Napeu Tsakapesh died by suicide in May. In a written statement, Innu Nation Grand Chief Gregory Rich, who was elected in August, said it is important for the inquiry to begin soon because "Innu families have lost too many youth and children to the child welfare system." Rich said they are waiting for a response from the federal government right now regarding its participation in the inquiry.  

UK: Vulnerable young people experience digital exclusion

A report published by the Carnegie Trust UK challenges the assumption that all young people have basic digital skills and are digitally literate. The findings of the first phase of #NotWithoutMe, a programme of digital inclusion for vulnerable young people are drawn from four, year-long pilot projects run across the UK (two based in England, one in Scotland and one in Northern Ireland). The report found that many young people do not have basic digital skills, in particular vulnerable young people are in need of additional support. Digital exclusion is a significant challenge and reduces their long-term wellbeing. The report offers a number of recommendations including using inclusive language, a flexible approach to delivery by practitioners, and a base level measurement to understand the true starting point. 

California bill would erase life without parole sentences for juveniles

A bill awaiting California Governor Jerry Brown’s signature would end mandatory, life-in-prison sentences for youth offenders in the state. Under the proposed law, Senate Bill 394, anyone under the age of 18 with a life sentence now or in the future would be entitled to a parole hearing by their 25th year of incarceration. It would help California catch up with a growing number of states that have banned the sentencing practice known as a juvenile life without parole (LWOP) sentence, which the Supreme Court has deemed unconstitutional. Brown has until October 15th to sign the bill, which passed the California state senate by a wide margin earlier this month. “Young people have a huge capacity to learn and change, and even those who commit crimes deserve a second chance. SB 394 will allow the parole board to take another look at people sentenced decades before, and it keeps us on the path to restore the value of rehabilitation to our criminal justice system,” State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) told The Chronicle of Social Change in an emailed statement. Lara authored the bill with state Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), including it in a package of three other bills aimed at reshaping the juvenile justice system in California.

UK: Youth-led peer mentoring service launches

A peer mentoring programme is set to be launched across schools and youth clubs in Camden. The programme, created through a partnership between Fitzrovia Youth in Action (FYA), Mind in Camden and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust will train young people as mentors for children who are two or more years younger than them. "By the end of the first year, we aim to have worked with eight schools or youth clubs, trained 80 peer mentors, and engaged 160 mentees over 480 sessions," said Emilios Lemoniatis, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at the trust. Andre Schott, director of FYA, said recruitment of young mentors will begin next week, to coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October. Professionals will then start working alongside them to co-produce the content for future workshops. The chief executive of Mind in Camden, Brian Dawn described the initiative as "guided self-help". He said the peer mentors will support their "mentees", by helping them to do "life-enhancing things, such as improve their problem-solving skills, reduce isolation and increase their self-confidence".

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4 OCTOBER

USA: Hospital visits higher among adolescents with recent justice system involvement

 Literature shows juvenile justice system involvement is associated with high risk of various mental and physical health disorders among teenagers, with mortality rates of 4 times those of adolescents who have not been involved with the system. This population represents a potentially large burden on health care services as estimates suggest 1 in 5 adolescents under age 18 are arrested for charges other than minor traffic violations. Researchers in this study aimed to determine if ED and hospital visits were higher among adolescents with recent justice system involvement. They also stratified care facility use rates by health condition to see if adolescents with specific diseases were more likely to present to the hospital. Results showed adolescents with any level of justice system involvement in the past year were more likely to have visited the ED or been hospitalized than adolescents without juvenile justice contact. Among those with recent justice system involvement, adolescents with substance use disorders or asthma had the highest rates of ED encounters. This study relied on self-reporting for data collection and thus may be subject to underreporting of justice system involvement, mental health disorders, and substance abuse. Data from adolescents who were institutionalized during the study period were not included, which may have resulted in underestimation of care facility use. This study highlights the need for support systems connecting adolescents with justice system involvement to timely, appropriate primary care, behavioral health and social service resources to reduce rates of acute care use. 

Ireland: The lives of children hang in the balance

In advance of the budget, Barnardos has launched a campaign urging the Government to invest in services that would protect and encourage children’s development and potential – a key step in tackling Ireland’s extremely high child poverty rates. Barnardos CEO, Fergus Finlay said: “Children are being profoundly and negatively affected by many of the challenges currently facing our society – one in nine children live in consistent poverty, over 3,000 children are currently homeless, thousands of children endure excessively long waits for medical assessment and treatment. "We know that these challenges and barriers in early years massively impact a child’s development and potential in life. The Government must ensure quality services are available when and where they are needed – the lives of children hang in the balance. Head of Advocacy, June Tinsley added: “Many children in Ireland start out in life with their development hampered and their potential already limited because of where they live, their household income or other life circumstances. Tragically, this is preventable. Having proper supports in place can mean the difference between poverty and stability, a safe home or homelessness, health and development or illness and delay. Through supporting parents and guaranteeing quality public services, we can enable children and young people to write their own future and fulfil their potential. Budget 2018 must commit to protecting children; ensuring supports are in place to give every child the opportunity to thrive.” 

Canada CK to help youth find homes

More youth in Chatham-Kent will have a safe place to sleep thanks to a new provincially-funded program coming to the municipality. Council unanimously approved a motion at Monday night’s meeting to bring the Homes First for Youth Program to Chatham-Kent. The program will provide youth ages 16 to 25 with a permanent home in the community of their choice, along with support systems in place to help them become self-sufficient. A report, which was presented to council, states that funding will be provided for eight portable housing benefits annually through the Canadian Mental Health Association in Lambton-Kent. House of Sophrosyne will also be provided with funding for five portable housing benefits annually. Chatham-Kent will be hiring three full-time permanent youth intensive case managers, one full-time permanent administrative assistant, and one full-time permanent supervisor position. All five positions are 100% provincially funded. The program is run under the Home for Good Initiative, which is a homelessness focused program that supports the province’s goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2025. The program is designed to prioritize youth experiencing chronic homelessness, Indigenous youth, youth transitioning from correctional facilities or child protection agencies, as well as youth with addiction or mental health concerns.

Jamaica: Child Development Agency improves monitoring of children with digital management system

The Child Case Management System (CCMS) is making a significant impact in improving the management of information pertaining to the care and protection of the nation's children. The system, being implemented by the Child Development Agency (CDA), is part of efforts by the Government to strengthen the delivery of services to children, particularly those in the child protection system. Team Leader for the CDA's South East Region, Morvetia Hunter, says that since the introduction of the pilot in August 2015, the software has made a tremendous impact on operations by reducing duplication of efforts and ensuring that cases are properly monitored. She notes that the system has created a greater level of efficiency and accountability as well as improving record keeping, as information for all case files is stored on a central system, making it easily accessible by all relevant stakeholders. This, in turn, has improved communication within the CDA's regional offices. “Rather than going to a desk and talking to an officer, we can go on the system where we can see what has taken place in terms of treatment or assessment for this child and rather than reinventing the wheel we continue the process. It is a one-stop-shop where you can access everything,” Hunter points out.

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2 OCTOBER 

UK: 'Kinship carers' denied thousands of pounds over two-child cap

Carers who voluntarily look after younger relatives to stop them being taken into care are being denied thousands of pounds in welfare entitlements as a result of the two-child benefit cap, despite government promises to exempt them. Campaigners have called on ministers to change rules whereby kinship carers who act as guardians for at least two children are refused child tax credits and maternity grants when they decide to have a child of their own. Ministers promised kinship carers a year ago they would not be subject to the two-child policy after a defeat over the issue in the House of Lords. However, it has emerged that the exemption only applies to carers who have birth children first and then become guardian to a third child – not the other way around. Although in such cases the third child is the carer’s first birth child, officials have blocked child tax credit payments worth £2,780 a year because the claimant is considered to have breached the two-child limit that came into force in April. Melanie Onn, Labour MP for Great Grimsby, said it was unjust that kinship carers who had made great personal sacrifices to care for relatives – and saved the state hundreds of thousands of pounds in fostering costs – were refused financial support. “It’s unfair for people who have given up large parts of their life to take care of their close family. They do that with commitment and love, and without regret. To see them having children of their own and then having state support denied seems so incredibly unfair.”

UK: Children in care numbers rise at fastest rate in five years

The number of children in care has risen at its fastest rate in five years while the number of children being adopted continues to fall, official figures have revealed. Department for Education statistics released today show that for the year ending 31 March 2017 the number of looked after children rose by 3.2 per cent in the space of 12 months. The figures show there were 72,670 children in care in the 12 months to the end of March 2017, compared with 70,440 the year before and 69,480 in 2015. The 3.2 per cent increase is the largest in five years, since the figure jumped from 65,510 in 2011 to 67,070 in 2012, a rise of 4.1 per cent. In addition, the proportion of children in care has risen to the highest level on record. Currently, 62 out of every 10,000 children are in care. The figure had remained at 60 since 2013. The lowest figure in recent history was in 2008, when 54 out of every 10,000 children were in care. Meanwhile, the number of children being placed for adoption continues to fall, with the end of March 2017 figure of 4,350 down on the previous 12 months' figure of 4,690 and markedly down on 2015's tally of 5,360. 

Australia: ACT government's child protection committee has no Indigenous representation

The committee overseeing a review into the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care in the ACT is still searching for Indigenous representation a year after it was established. The child and youth protection quality assurance and improvement (CYPQAI) committee is "designed to ensure better outcomes for children whose safety is at risk from abuse or neglect", according to the terms of reference. In June, ACT minister for youth Rachel Stephen-Smith announced the review into what's been described as an "unacceptable" over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care. While making up just three per cent of the ACT's entire child population, Indigenous children account for 26 per cent of children in out of home care. Aboriginal youth centre Gugan Gulwan's executive director Kim Davison warned the review would fail without Indigenous representation. Ms Davison said she had been invited to meet with the government in the coming week about the review, but had no knowledge of the CYPQAI committee overseeing it. She said she would be questioning the government on the committee and its lack of Indigenous representatives. "This review will not be successful if we are not involved. Simple as that," Ms Davison said. 

USA: Connecticut organizations get $750K to fight youth drug use

Organizations in six Connecticut cities and towns will receive a total of $750,000 in federal grant money aimed at preventing addiction among young people. The grants were announced Friday by the state's congressional delegation. Each organization will receive $125,000 through the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The groups are based in Torrington, Enfield, East Haddam, Naugatuck, Durham and Bridgeport. A joint statement from the state's two senators and five representatives, all Democrats, says the state is experiencing a "harrowing scourge" of drug use and prevention efforts are a step toward safer communities.

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