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Outline the main developments in child care law since 1984 and discuss how effective these developments have been to child welfare and protection.

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Introduction

Social Policy Jo Matthews OUTLINE THE MAIN DEVELOPMENTS IN CHILD CARE LAW SINCE 1984 AND DISCUSS HOW EFFECTIVE THESE DEVELOPMENTS HAVE BEEN TO CHILD WELFARE AND PROTECTION In medieval times child protection was non-existent as child abuse was not recognised as such and families were left to their own devices. It was not until the 19th Century that children began to be seen as individuals and consequently did require protection and looking after. Child cruelty was not thought of as criminal until 1889, where the prevention of Cruelty to and Protection of Children Act was introduced. Many Acts were to develop since, including the power for local authorities to remove children from their families. Despite this, tragic events occurred involving children. In 1985 and 1989 two children died as a result of child abuse. A combination of these events and the Short Committee report, of which strongly recommended that parents should take an active part in responsibilities of their children, were to have a profound effect on childcare legislation. The 1989 Children Act was to follow, which, for the first time in child care law, gave a definition of children in need. The different forms of abuse are under categories of physical, sexual, emotional and neglect. ...read more.

Middle

The Government promotes the support and communication of other agency bodies such as the N.S.P.C.C, seeing co-operation and responses as an essential part of child protection. Teachers and Nursery nurses alike are responsible for following guidelines of the local authority with respect to child welfare. Persons within positions like these can play an active part in child protection, with the advantage of having regular contact with children and likely to spot signs of developing problems within the family. The case of Kimberley Carlisle highlighted the fact that social services may be in need of more power, as when access was denied to them regarding Kimberley. As it stands an Emergency Protection Order may be applied if access to a child is denied, and there is concern for the safety of that child. When it is believed by a local authority that a child is suffering or may suffer significant harm, and it is deemed essential that a medical check or health and development is conducted, they then can apply for an assessment order. The assessment order is given if it is believed that it is the only way that a sufficient check would be made. Would the latter have made a difference in this situation though? ...read more.

Conclusion

Social workers now show a positive change in attitudes and approach in their work - as a direct consequence of the Children Act 1989 providing a more structured legal framework, hence the security of specific guidelines to follow? Or could it be as a result of working in partnership with the parents, in the position of offering assistance and support in an attempt to keep families together, wherever possible? However not so good examples of child protection lie with the deaths of Rikki Neave in 1995 as a result of lack of action by authorities, Leanne White (1992) - failure of authorities to listen and karl Speke (1996) - blamed on lack of communication. Allegations of physical, emotional and sexual abuse within care homes are still surfacing. Do all local authorities maintain an efficient child protection procedures and adequate support for families in need? According to SSI's child protection inspection programme (1992-1996) not so many actually proved to be giving a high standard of services, the vast majority providing inadequate in some areas. So, despite the massive overhaul of child care law, still children are suffering and dying, so it is apparent that it is still not entirely full proof. However, Child welfare reforms are constantly being reviewed and campaigned for, coming under scrutiny in areas seen to be lacking in appropriate policy. ...read more.

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