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Consider the role of child care professionals in promoting the holistic needs of looked after children in both foster and residential care.

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Introduction

Assignment title. Consider the role of child care professionals in promoting the holistic needs of looked after children in both foster and residential care. This assignment will consider the role of child care professionals in promoting the holistic needs of looked after children (LAC) in foster and residential care. The author will firstly define a looked after child then identify holistic needs in terms of defining a holistic assessment. The author will then identify foster and residential care then go on to look at an historical overview of LAC, making reference to high profile abuse inquiries which have led to significant changes in the laws and policy agendas. It will go on to examine the legal and policy frameworks underpinning children's services considering the implications as well as ethical dilemmas for social work practice, including multi-agency working, the balancing act of care and control and effective care planning for those looked after and those leaving care. In addition, the roles of residential and foster carers and the regulation of placements shall also be explored. The author also considers the needs of black, minority ethnic and unaccompanied asylum seeking children also taking into account theoretical perspectives, finally closing with a brief summary. For the purposes of the assignment the term child(ren) is used as defined by the Children Act 1989 as those under the age of eighteen. The term 'looked after' refers to those in the care of the local authority (LA) or provided with accommodation as defined in the Children Act 1989 (s.22(1)). Some children can not remain at home due to adverse environments including abuse and neglect, family crises, a disability or offending. Some will return home, while others will remain in care long term. In order to promote a child's holistic needs, a holistic assessment; "...must seek to know and represent the whole child... looking at the positives and negatives, strengths and weaknesses, resources and deficits, protective and risk factors." ...read more.

Middle

Therefore, by explaining to the child at the outset why and how information is shared, there are no unnecessary surprises for the child. Working Together to Safeguard Children (DfES 2006) is the third updated version since 1991, providing improved guidance on child protection procedures and the newly reformed Local Safeguarding Children's Boards. Emphasis is placed on multi-agency working with a commitment to sharing information, police intelligence and recognising risk factors in order to safeguard and protect children from harm. However, ethical dilemmas can arise when safeguarding children. At times it is necessary to place children in secure accommodation under section 25 of the Children Act 1989 for their own and other's safety, and/or due to a history of absconding (Brammer 2007). Although this conflicts with Article 5 of the UNCRC; 'Right to Liberty' along with the potential to diminish their autonomy, this must be a last resort to safeguard their welfare when other strategies have failed Effective care planning for LAC is key to promoting and meeting their holistic needs. Care plans should be person-centred, needs based, focussed, proactive and written collectively with the social worker, the child (depending on age), their parent(s) and prospective carers (National Children's Bureau 2007). However, studies undertaken by Timms & Thorburn (2006) revealed that LAC were not always involved in writing their care plan as much as they should be, and less than three quarters of their respondents who were looked after, knew what a care plan was. The care plan is a continuing process based on a holistic assessment of the child's needs and how they will be met, including a statutory Health Plan and Personal Education Plan (including Special Educational Needs) which sets out targets, providing a valuable individual monitoring mechanism (DfES 2005). The requirement of statutory reviews laid out in section 26 of the Children Act 1989 reinforces this continuum (Thomas 2005). The amendment to section 26 made by section 118 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, now requires that statutory reviews must be ...read more.

Conclusion

She also adds that this perspective advocates that children should to have similar rights to adults in choices and decision making. Therefore being freed from adult oppression would lead to better treatment of children. However, as Thomas (2005) and Leeson (2007) argued earlier, despite good intentions from adults in decision making, there is without a doubt conflict of interests. Statistics issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (2007a) show that at 31 March 2007, 60,000 children were looked after in England, with 42,300 (71 per cent) placed in foster care and 6,500 (11 per cent) placed in residential homes (including secure units and hostels). Sergeant (2006) noted in the previous year that out of the 6000 children who will emerge from care, 4500 will have no qualifications. Furthermore, within two years, 3000 will be unemployed, while 2100 with be pregnant or parents, 1200 will be homeless and only 60 will go to university. Outcomes for LAC have improved, but not at the pace the government had expected, and are still considered to be unacceptable. Further radical proposals to transform the lives of LAC are by way of a third piece of legislation; the Children and Young Persons Bill 2007, underpinned by the commitment of the White Paper, Care Matters: Time for Change (DfCSF 2007). Key benefits include, placement stability to reduce multiple placements, prioritising the education admission process and ensuring that children are not being set up to fail by forcing them into leaving care before they are ready. To conclude, child care professionals do well to promote the holistic needs of LAC within the legislative framework given their extensive roles and responsibilities and commitments to not just one, but to several children. However, given the extensive succession of legislation, policies and initiatives, meeting their needs appears to be an arduous task. The governments expectations of LAC in relation to other children is in danger of being completely unrealistic if the resources are not available not meet their needs, and although multi-agency working is echoed throughout policy agendas, without collaboration, there is a danger of children being overlooked within the system. ...read more.

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