Question marks

Special guardianship orders; ADHD misdiagnosis in children facing trauma; Mental health and CiC; New Children and Social Work Act; Children’s responses to sexual abuse.

I have been away for a few days so this week is more of a signposting piece about what is going on in the world of fostering – that said a couple of things really caught my eye and I hope to come back to these in a later more in-depth article or two.

Are special guardianship orders safe?

piece by Luke Stevenson in Community Care explored whether Special Guardianship Orders (SGO) are being used safely; there are concerns over whether special guardians are getting a rigorous enough assessment before being allowed to care for a child long term and whether SGOs are also being driven by cost. It was an issue explored in April by the Commons Education Select Committee in their final hearing as part of their inquiry into fostering and among the witnesses was Jim Wade a research fellow at the University of York who has undertaken research into SGOs. Wade echoed some of the concerns in the article and particularly that in the last couple of years SGOs are “increasingly used in circumstances where children either have not previously lived with that carer or where the relationship between the carer and the child is assessed as being relatively weak”.

Misdiagnosing ADHD in children facing early trauma

Laura Hanbury has written a dissertation on the misdiagnosis of ADHD in children who have experienced early trauma – and has summarised some of the key points in this article. While there is an “overwhelming” link between ADHD and childhood trauma including abuse and neglect, training on ADHD does not feature high on the training agenda within child protection. “Professionals are not receiving the much needed training in the associated links between childhood trauma and ADHD and this is resulting in the ineffective management and maintenance of the condition, as well as adding to the concern that child abuse could he happening behind closed doors,” she says. You can obtain a copy of Laura’s dissertation via the email address at the end of the article. Laura is about to start a new PhD study which will look at foster carers,  ADHD and other challenging behaviours and how relationships are maintained and is interested in hearing from carers willing to be involved.

Mental health assessments for children in care

And while CYP Now reports on the delay to a planned pilot projects to give children entering care a mental health assessment, Tony Hunter, chief executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence has some more positive news. He writes in the Guardian of a new project to ensure that children in care have access to high-quality services, based on a clear assessment of need, from a range of professionals working across different agencies. “The project is likely to suggest significant changes to the way assessments are conducted for children in care, which could have a big impact on up to 70,000 care-experienced children and young people,” Hunter writes. The project has been commissioned by the departments of health and education.

New Children and Social Work Act

The Children and Social Work Bill became an Act, receiving Royal Assent ahead of the dissolution of the current parliament. Among its provisions are a strengthening of corporate parenting principles, including a requirement to provide a “local offer for care leavers”. The Act also requires schools to provide relationship education for all children of compulsory school age.

Children’s responses to sexual abuse – new report

Last month saw the launch of Making Noise: Children’s voices for positive change after sexual abuse – a report from the University of Bedfordshire’s specialist centre on tackling CSE, produced on behalf of the Children’s Commissioner. The research responds “to a gap in evidence from the perspectives of children and young people affected by child sexual abuse”. The centre has also released a series of presentations from its recent conference on CSE and policing.

Across the fostering spectrum

And finally a couple of viewpoints from differing areas of the fostering spectrum. Jason Moyer-Lee, the general secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain calls for a foster care workers’ rights bill “that extends the statutory employment rights enjoyed by “workers” – those self-employed people who carry out their work as part of someone else’s business – to foster care workers”. And on the even of Fostering Fortnight and the launch of his new book Welcome to Fostering Martin Barrow writes about a bittersweet piece about saying goodbye to a foster child.

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