Policy starts to shift on overnight stays for dads

Momentum is growing for changes in family court policy and practice, following the publication of two key research papers which debunk influential research suggesting that overnight stays for separated fathers are bad for children.
In a recent blog, the Fatherhood Institute described how US academics Richard Warshak and Linda Nielsen have called into question research by leading clinical psychologist Jennifer McIntosh – which has had a profound influence on decisions about post-separation residence and access in her native Australia and elsewhere.
Now the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health, and some key organisations which run Australia’s network of Family Relationship Centres, are revising their policies in response to the Warshak and Nielsen papers – and an emerging consensus that young children with secure attachments to both parents do better.

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Government seeks views of child protection professionals on outsourcing

The government has launched a consultation outlining plans to allow local authorities to outsource the majority of children’s services.

Under the new proposals, councils would be able to outsource child protection services amid other provisions, representing a major shift in the way these services are delivered. The proposal looks to change the rules for all children’s services with the exemption of independent reviewing officers, whose current functions would not be allowed to be delegated.

The consultation seeks the views of care providers and family social workers, as well as services users, and is open until the end of May 2014.

Councils would continue to be responsible for “ensuring their statutory obligations are met”, and outsourced services would continue to be inspected by Ofsted, with local authorities held accountable for targets and performance. The consultation document suggests that the new measures would increase local authorities’ options for delivering services.

While many councils already employ the expertise of external organisations, the new proposals seem to tie in with a gradual shift towards outsourcing, such as the Innovation Fund, which aims to find new approaches to delivering children’s social care, and the plans around Birmingham’s struggling children’s services which led to Edward Timpson commissioning a study into the feasibility of outsourcing.

Read the consultation (Department for Education).

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Quarterly Newsletter – March 2014

The March issue of the Improving Futures Evaluation and Learning quarterly newsletter is available to download below.

If you have any news items you would like to submit for future newsletters, please send them to improvingfutures@uk.ecorys.com.

Please feel free to forward this email to anyone who you feel may be interested in subscribing to the newsletter and other related emails.

Click here to view the quarterly newsletter.

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Timpson to launch study into early years outsourcing

The government has announced plans to explore the possibility of national outsourcing for children’s services.

Children’s minister Edward Timpson has assembled a team of children’s services experts to investigate the potential of delivering children’s services nationally, rather than under local authority control. The team will be led by Professor Julian Le Grand, who recently oversaw the review of Birmingham City’s struggling children’s services.

Responding to the Birmingham review, Timpson published a letter to Birmingham Council’s leader, detailing some of his plans. He wrote “I have therefore decided to commission a piece of work, overseen by Professor Le Grand, to look at developing capacity for delivering children’s services outside of local authorities – to be used not only in future thinking about the commissioning of services in Birmingham but elsewhere”.

The investigation will look into developing new frameworks and principles that can be used by local authorities for outsourcing children’s services.

Read Edward Timpson’s letter to Birmingham City Council (www.gov.uk).

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Engaging with Fathers webinar – Improving Futures

The postponed Improving Futures webinar “Engaging with Fathers” has been recorded and is now available to view on the Parenting UK website.

Engaging with fathers can be one of the biggest challenges faced by organisations who work with parents. We know that working with both parents can increase the positive impact on children and yet many service users still see family support as female-centric.

To operate a full service, it is important to know where to find and how to engage the fathers of the families we work with.

This event features guest speaker Annette Jones from The Enfield Family Turnaround Project, one of the 26 Improving Futures projects. Annette talks about how the project’s rebranding of services and increased outreach work have been encouraging fathers to be more active in their children’s lives.

View the webinar here: http://parentinguk.org/events/free-webinar-engaging-with-fathers/2014-03-28/

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Fathers and Families

This is a guide for parenting practitioners to offer tips and support in engaging and working with fathers.

The document originated as a research paper for Parenting UK, written by Adrienne Burgess of the Fatherhood Institute and funded by what was then the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

This 2014 update has been produced as a learning document for Improving Futures, a UKwide programme funded by The Big Lottery that aims to improve the lives of children growing up in families with multiple and complex needs.

The updated paper includes new material that reflects recent research and aims to support the 26 projects involved in Improving Futures and their work with fathers.

Read full report

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