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The case of Victoria Climbie brought to fore the issue of child abuse as a fundamental social problem and the inherent lapses in child protection policies at the time. An inquiry was set-up headed by lord Laming with other (Which professionals) professionals to determine what lessons could be learnt from Victoria Climbie's death and how these lessons could be applied to prevent similar occurrences - the result was Every Child Matters, which is a new labour government policy. This essay will briefly look at Laming's report identifying the key findings of what went wrong which was the main driver for change. This essay will then look at what the government has done following the recommendations presented in the Laming Report. The aim of the Every Child Matters policy will also be looked at.
The author will also be assessing the influence of political ideology utilising theoretical framework. Some policies do have "intended and unintended consequences." Ridge (2008). Finally, the author will be discussing the issue pertaining to the implementation and effects of Every Child matters Policy.
Since the 1960's and the Second world war there has been a succession of children that have died in the hands of carers, mothers and relatives, who have been in contact with the Child Protection Services. Various reports such as the Kilbrandon report 1964 have influenced the shaping of social policy. The Kilbrandon report identified that children required different care and attention whether troubled or troublesome. Nevertheless, the 1970's brought the public inquiry of the death of Maria Colwell at the hands of her stepfather, which heralded public interest in the way children are treated. It is however, pertinent to note that politics of collectivism and state intervention to deal with social problems of child abuse began far back in the Poor Law era with organisation such as The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) play lead role in this collective thinking. Hill (2003)
A growing awareness of child abuse was being recognised and local authorities were required to establish inter-agency child protection committees and preventative social work was beginning to take form. After each death, there had been reports so that changes can be made in the care system. The most recent is the death of Victoria Climbie which preceded the death of Baby Peter (Baby P) The most disturbing reality of Victoria Climbié case was that her death was preventable; The initial shock was due to the fact that she was known to several agencies with a remit to safeguard and protect vulnerable and at risk children. Public uproar coupled with government's anger at failings within the Child Protection services led to the setting up of a commission to investigate the case.
The social problem here is not primarily the death of Victoria Climbié. Yet, her suffering and death was due to gross failure of the system. Lamming pointed out that there is a social problem, the one in which children are not being protected in the best possible way, because agencies were not in communication with one another, It was also found that her death was preventable on twelve separate occasions. Lamming found that services were not cooperating with each other and had difficulties due to staffing levels and resources. (Laming, 2003 Section 1.30) this lack of communication has persisted over the years in child protection dating back to Maria collwell's death. O'Loughling and O'Loughling (2008)
Slack and Doughty (2008) reported that, "one child a week is a victim of murder or manslaughter, in a single year, the number of under-tens killed went up 30 per cent form 38 to 49, according to latest government figure". From this figure, it can be seen that some children still lose their young lives as opportunities to protect them are missed by professionals. According to the report, Victoria Climbie's mother was demanding why professionals keep failing children as she was shocked lessons have not still been learnt (Are you agreeing with this comment? Is there any empirical evidence to back up the claims made by VC mother?). According to the report social workers were often conned by parents thereby, children went unseen and unheard.
From Hill findings we can being to recognise that child welfare polices changes over time, depending on the changing condition and "changing assumptions about needs and rights of children, and the role of the state in children lives" Rige (2008). Marsh goes on to say that over the centuries the state and has tried to provide help people and overcome many social evils: such as child abuse. Therefore, the state is concerned with care and a respond to societies need. As a result needs is concpectlised by the government of the day, and their political ideologies, social and economical conditions that exist. The state took lead role to protect children.
Ellison & Pierson, (1998) shares the same view as Marsh they emphasis "The welfare of children in the United Kingdom is one of the most important items for the government in terms of social policy" The welfare state is a system in which the state takes responsibility for providing at least the minimum conditions of social and economic security by providing public services such as housing, healthcare, sickness, unemployment benefits and pensions. Professionals and practitioners in the field of health, education and welfare all have different roles to play in safeguarding and protecting children from any ill health, abuse and treatment.
These professionals include social workers, general practitioners, Health visitors, teachers, the Police and many more. Lord Laming recommended that the above service would be able work in muti- discipnly way: to share information and work together, to protect children and young people from harm and help them achieve what they want in life. Blair (2000) stated that the welfare state should become more active in supporting people to achieve independence, and it is organisations such as the one above that contribute to his vision.
The organisation will have to change significantly in order to meet the criteria of Every Child Matters, whereby every referral made reflects the 5 outcomes to show how the service user is currently meeting the 5 outcomes. The Mission Statement of Every Child Matters reads,
To promote the health and well being of children and young people by providing accessible services that encourage children, young people and their families or carers to make a positive contribution that enables them to stay safe, enjoy and achieve and shape their own futures to reach their full potentialï¿½
(Agency Mission Statement, 2006,)
The Mission statement is also supported by the liberal ideology which stands for the freedom of the individual to pursue happiness and well being. This is also known as individualism. Generally, it emphasizes individual rights and equality of opportunity. Liberalism moved beyond the normal categories of left and right and embarked on a new approach of centre-left, being able to avoid customary political divides it is known as Third Way politics, it is a centralist political ideology that is neither Socialist nor Conservative, but combines aspects of free-market capitalism with egalitarian social aims, it has continued to the present day with the welfare mix to develop social policies. Giddens :436 (2005) Liberalism is the belief that we are free to make our own mistakes, decide our own lifestyle, choose our own way of living, pursue our own thoughts and philosophies, provided we don't infringe on other people's freedom.
Every Child Matters was created by the new labour government, some of the influences for change are new labour government's focus on inequalities, parental fury and the response from lord Laming's report. He recommended we should protect children as much as possible, in others words, we should put children first and treat each one as an individuals.
This ideology is partly about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989. The UN convention visions a child (under age 18) as an individual and as a member of a family and a community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. (Volpe, 1997) The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is based on the philosophy that children are equal to and have the same value as adults, while identifying at the same time they are vulnerable because of their age and are subject to the decisions and behaviour of adults. The rights set out in the Convention can be grouped into three broad categories; Protection: children have a right to protection from cruelty, abuse, neglect and exploitation. Participation: children have a right to play an active role in society and to have a say in their own lives. Provision: children have the right to have their basic needs met. (Volpe, 1997
We can recognise that there is this ideology that children are vulnerable, they should be protected and have rights. This is also supported by the Children Act 1989. If children are vulnerable therefore the Duty of Care also applies to them. The Duty of care suggests vulnerable should be looked after by the strong. David Batty of Guardian Society emphasis:
The main reforms proposed by Lord Lemming report are aimed at holding those in senior positions, from the government down to local services, to account for any failure to protect vulnerable children (Reference this article appropriately)
Within the UN Convention, there appears to be some ideological conflicts between those who see children's rights in welfare terms and those who wish to promote a child's self determination. Freeman and Veerman, (1992) However, in the Every Child Matter Lord Laming points that Child protection is every one's business
The labour government responded to the inquiry by a range of measures which will help to improve and inform children's care. In 2003, Every Child Matters was published aimed at ensuring that every child regardless of their background or circumstances have the needed support to: be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic well-being.
The aim of the policy was to be achieved through four key themes. Firstly, to increase the focus on supporting families and carers, the most critical influence on children's lives. It aims to do this by through universal services such as social and health services and schools and parents of children. Another key theme is ensuring necessary intervention takes place before children reach crisis point and protecting children from falling through the net. The policy aims to do this by improving information sharing in the multidisciplinary agencies that are responsible for the safeguard of children.
The third key theme was addressing the underlying problems identified in the report into the death of Victoria Climbié; weak accountability and poor integration. Children trusts were set up to improve services by multi-agency working through co-operation with a number of services. Certain aspects of the children's funds would be set up at local level with the promotion of better services in the area and also centrally as to provide a common framework for all agencies involved.
The fourth theme is the workforce reform, this is to ensure that people who work with children are rewarded, valued and trained. The government aims to do this by developing a more skilled and flexible workforce, which is also attractive and of high status career, the aim also include a common training for the people who solely work with children and family to develop a more consistent approach to children's and families' needs.
May be put this in conclusion
"One very clear message emerges from the evidence we have received: there is almost universal support for the basic aims of Every Child Matters. We agree with witnesses-and therefore think it fitting to state at the outset-that the Government deserves substantial praise for embarking on such an ambitious and comprehensive programme of reform" (The United Kingdom Parliament, 2005).
Overall, the policy has been mostly welcomed by those working with children. Lessons that were learnt in Victoria Climbie's death have been widely put in place. Many dedicated staff work flat out to improve the lives and health of children. One of the intended consequences of the policy is the development of the framework for social work training. The two-year Diploma has now been replaced with a three-year degree. The degree was introduced to encompass greater practical experience and to improve the skills base and competence of newly qualified social workers. According to the Chief Executive of the General Social Care Council (GSCC), Lynne Berry, "good quality service starts with good quality training. The GSCC are working with universities to ensure that tomorrow's social workers are clear about the standards they are expected to meet, inspire public confidence in social care and are able to work successfully with colleagues from other professions" (GSCC, 2003).
According to Campbell (2007), A spokesman from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, which is responsible for child welfare, said: 'In response to the Victoria Climbie inquiry, we have substantially strengthened the framework of law, guidance and supporting systems to help keep children safe, and that work is continuing. Tragically we know some children still suffer abuse and neglect.
Despite the universal support for the aims of Every Child Matters policy, there are still children that slip through the net. In May 2007, one -month- old Luigi Askew was beaten to death by his violent father. Social workers and police were accused of
In conclusion, whilst researching Every Child Matter it is significant to recognise most changes in legislation/Act/polices to protect children derive from failings by both professionals and family members to protect children. Victoria Climbie's death was wake up call for practitioners and professionals who are supposed to be safeguarding and protecting children's welfare. However it is important to point that, over the centuries the welfare state has tried to safeguard children and legislation have constantly been put place to prevent such conditions. Legislation is fundamental to developing policies for practitioners to work within and protect both service users and professionals. Guidelines that assist to working more effectively with families are continually evolving in order to achieve better outcomes.
Need to do a thorough spell check and grammar check. Be very careful about making emotive statements in an academic essay and also when you make global assertions make sure that you can evidence these not just with media soundbites or/and relatives views which whilst valid for them may not be representative of the full picture. The fact is that the UK has one of the most successful child protection systems in the western world - There is and has been quite a lot of good work done in this areaâ€¦..