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Weekly News Bulletin 

Wednesday 6th April 2022

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Children England News


Manifesto for a child poverty free London published in response to new poverty statistics
New statistics released last Thursday show 3.9 million children were living in poverty in the UK in 2020-21. Now in 2022, as a result of £20 cut to Universal Credit last October, this figure is likely to be much higher. The cost-of-living crisis is acute for families in London, and they need help like never before. 34% of Londoners have struggled to pay their household bills in the last six months, with 13% struggling to make ends meet, going without essentials or relying on credit.

The 4in10 London Child Poverty Network says “It is a matter of urgency that those seeking election to London councils this May prioritise tackling child poverty in their communities. While decisions taken by national government may have the greatest impact on families’ incomes, it is essential that local government plays its part to relieve the extreme pressure on the budgets of low-income families with children."

The London Child Poverty Alliance, a group of charities committed to tackling child poverty in the city, has now published its Manifesto for a child poverty free London. The Alliance is asking prospective councillors to pledge to working towards a child poverty free London and is putting forward a set of actions they must take to make this happen. These include:

  • ACTION ON INCOME: Review Council Tax Reduction schemes to minimise the amount of tax paid by household with children in poverty and review Local Welfare Assistance schemes to ensure that the funds available are adequate to meet the need in their borough.
  • ACTION ON HOUSING: Build more social housing. We are asking local authorities to ensure properties are built with a commitment to social rents, so that the more than 86,000 children who are homeless & living in temporary accommodation in London can be housed.3
  • ACTION ON CHILDCARE: Consider how local early years funding could be used more creatively and complemented from additional sources, to increase provision for children who would disproportionately benefit from it.
  • ACTION ON HUNGER: Take a cash-first approach to tackling food poverty and actively promote a local food poverty alliance.

Contents

Parliamentary News and Publications

75 local authorities selected for family hubs and start for life packages
The Department for Education has published the list of 75 local authorities to receive family hubs and 'start for life' packages, as announced in the 2021 autumn budget. The funding of £301.75m will also fund family help services, including breastfeeding services, parenting programmes and parent-infant mental health support. Published alongside is a technical note on how the 75 local authorities were selected, including their ranking according to Income Deprivation Affecting Children Indices (IDACI) and the principles:
  1. That the criteria used should target funding at areas with the highest levels of deprivation to support the Government’s levelling-up agenda. 
  2. That the criteria used should ensure pre-selected local authorities have sufficient representation across the three high-level Rural Urban Classifications (i.e. Predominantly Urban, Urban with Significant Rural and Predominantly Rural) to enable the government to build the evidence base around the programme’s implementation and impact in different contexts. 
  3. That any data used should be robust and publicly available, so that the calculations behind our rankings are transparent.
Funding to support care leavers at risk of homelessness
The Department for Education has confirmed funding for local authorities with the highest number of care leavers at risk of homelessness, including those who are homeless or in emergency /  bed and breakfast accommodation. The funding is intended to enable local authorities to continue to employ one or more specialist advisers who provide intensive support to care leavers at highest risk of homelessness/rough sleeping; and to promote join up between children’s and housing services within local authorities. A total of £3,190,328 grant funding will be allocated to 63 local authorities in 2022-23, including Essex, Hampshire, Brent, Manchester and Birmingham. The DfE has also published grant allocations for local authorities to provide the extended Personal Advisor support to care leavers up to the age of 25 required by the Children and Social Work Act 2017.

Meanwhile care charities including Catch 22 and Become have written to government ministers raising concern about the impact of the cost of living crisis on care leavers, and calling for care leavers aged 18+ to receive the Universal Credit rate currently restricted to over 25s.

Funding for Staying Close
The Department for Education has also confirmed funding for five local authorities to support the Staying Close programme, through which young people leaving residential care can be offered accommodation close to their previous home and ongoing relationships with support staff. The letter explains that "This grant is intended to support the Staying Close programme, to improve outcomes for young people leaving children’s residential care homes. They may, however, choose how to spend the money in order to best meet local need." The local authorities are:
  • Portsmouth
  • North Tyneside
  • North East Lincolnshire
  • Suffolk
  • Bristol
Investment to upgrade college campuses
Sixty-two further education colleges are to benefit from a share of more than £400 million to upgrade buildings and transform campuses. The colleges will be the latest to benefit from the government’s £1.5 billion Further Education Capital Transformation Fund. This significant investment is supporting the transformation of post-16 education and training by ensuring colleges are great places to learn and students have access to modern, fit-for-purpose facilities. The announcement is the outcome of a bidding round that was open to all colleges.

Supporting Families programme guidance
Guidance on the objectives of the Supporting Families programme (previously Troubled Families) has been published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Department for Education. It includes a National Supporting Families Outcomes Framework and chapters on identifying families and evidencing outcomes. The ten outcomes are:
  • Getting a good education
  • Good early years development
  • Improved mental and physical health
  • Promoting recovery and reducing harm from substance use
  • Improved family relationships
  • Children safe from abuse and exploitation
  • Crime prevention and tackling crime
  • Safe from domestic abuse
  • Secure housing
  • Financial stability
Evaluation of the Holiday Activities and Food programme 2021
The government's evaluation of the 2021 Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme shows that 730,000 children took part, of whom 616,000 children had their places directly funded by HAF and 498,000 were eligible for free school meals. This means the HAF 2021 summer programme reached 29% of all children eligible for free school meals. Data from families shows children attended for an average of 9.6 days over the summer holidays, and that 70% of these children had not previously attended a free summer holiday club. Positive outcomes reported include:
  • Overall, 92% of HAF children reported engaging in 30 minutes or more of activity per day compared to 87% of children who did 7 not attend HAF, and 77% of HAF children reported taking part in at least 60 minutes of activity compared 67% of children who did not attend HAF.
  • There were positive signs that HAF was helping to improve socialisation and confidence, with 77% of children reporting they felt more confident because of attending the holiday club.
The impact of the pandemic on adolescent mental health
The Department for Education has published the findings of a study of adolescents in two schools, one conducted pre-Covid and therefore providing a control group for comparison with the other group who were studied pre- and during Covid. The report concludes that the pandemic led to increased adolescent depressive symptoms and decreased life satisfaction.
  • If the COVID-19 pandemic had not occurred, estimates suggest that we would observe 6% fewer adolescents with high depressive symptoms which is a difference of 1.6% in prevalence (27.1% to 25.4%) 
  • There was no overall effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescent externalising difficulties 
  • Girls’ mental health may have been more negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than boys
How children use social media
Ofcom has published the results of its research into how children and adults use and understand social media. The themes of its findings regarding children and young people are:
  • Many children could be using private social media accounts – like ‘Finstas’, fake Instagram accounts that their parents don’t know about - to hide aspects of their online lives. Two-thirds of 8- to 11-year-olds had multiple accounts or profiles, and almost half of these have an account just for their family to see.
  • Children are seeing less online video content from their friends, with their feeds dominated by professional content from brands, celebrities and influencers. This slick content seems to be encouraging a trend towards scrolling instead of sharing.
  • Despite being under the minimum age to use social media sites (which is 13 for most platforms), a third of parents of 5-7s and two-thirds of parents of 8-11s said their kids have social media profiles. Older children are most likely to have a profile on Instagram, while children aged 8 to 11 were more likely to have profiles on TikTok and YouTube.
  • Children told us they feel positive about the benefits of being online, and many use social media as a force for good. Over half of 13– to 17-year-olds feel being online is good for their mental health, while one in five disagreed. Campaigning also accounts for a degree of young people’s online activity.
Orlando Fraser confirmed as Chair of the Charity Commission
In spite of the Select Committee's refusal to endorse him as the right candidate for Chair of the Charity Commission, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has gone ahead and confirmed Orlando Fraser in the role. Civil Society reports on his appointment, and the call by NCVO for a review of the appointment process to ensure that future Chairs have the support of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Sector News and Publications


The impact of the two-child limit
On the fifth anniversary of the two-child limit on benefits, Child Poverty Action Group, the Church of England and the Benefit Changes & Larger Families research project have published a report showing that the limit now affects an estimated 1.4 million children in 400,000 families. Unless it is abolished, the number of children affected will reach 3 million, as more children are born under the policy. The report quotes families affected by the policy, who are struggling to afford essentials such as energy, food and the social activities children need.

"My children have been affected socially and emotionally [and] have to give up their sports and extra educational programs. They lost close friends, confidence and I have been affected mentally with the guilt I cannot give my younger children the opportunities I used to afford the older kids."

Meanwhile, the Benefit Changes and Larger Families research project has released findings that show the two-child limit has had a minimal effect on the numbers of children poorer families have had, instead creating more child poverty.

An introduction to new ADCS president Steve Crocker
The incoming president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services Steve Crocker has written a blog as he takes over from previous president Charlotte Ramsden. Of policy including the SEND green paper, schools white paper and the Care Review he writes: "We will want to respond to these papers as an association and further influence how the subsequent policies are rolled out. To do this we are trialling some new ways of working for ADCS, bringing together representatives from different policy committees to get a fully rounded response, pulled together in quick time, using the new technologies that we are now all so reliant on."

The impact of the Lifelong Links programme
CYP Now reports on the evaluation of Family Rights Group's Lifelong Links programme, which was trialled in 12 local authorities and evaluated by the Rees Centre based on data from two of the 12. The main aim of the programme is to help a child in care identify which family members they want to stay in touch with during their time in care, with the support of a Lifelong Links co-ordinator, and to maintain contact with those people through family group conferences. Improved outcomes the evaluation reported included:
  • Placement stability
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Social connections
Innovation in children's services
Coram-i has published the findings of its exploration of current innovative approaches to delivering services for children. The Art of the Possible includes case studies as well as the results of a survey of the sector that show the importance of collaboration, technology and having the right capacity and structures as enablers of innovation. 

National survey on the quality of legal representation in the youth justice system
The Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research (ICPR) Birkbeck is conducting research on legal representation and advocacy in the Youth Justice System with Just for Kids Law. The research, funded by the Dawes Trust, is seeking to identify whether, and what kinds of, interventions are needed to improve the quality of the work of criminal solicitors who advise and represent child suspects and defendants. They would be extremely grateful if you could complete this national survey about working in the youth justice system. It's completely anonymous and takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Has your charity experienced problems with banking?
The Civil Society Group has been working on helping charities that are experiencing problems with banking. This short survey will help us understand the scale of the challenges so that we can advocate on your behalf to the Charity Commission, government, and the banking sector. It should take you 5-10 minutes to complete. Deadline: Friday 6th May.

Sector Vacancies


At Just for Kids Law
  
Head of Immigration
Contract: Permanent, full time
Salary: £41,000 – £46,125
Location: Central London
Deadline: Midnight, Wednesday 13th April
This is an exciting role and unique opportunity to work in an organisation which is outcome-driven and focused on strength-based practise and trauma-informed lawyering. We support exceptionally vulnerable young people with complex immigration needs and are not motivated by financial targets. Just for Kids Law supports its legal practitioners through regular training which strengthens our child’s rights approach across the organisation and helps ensure that young people are fully engaged throughout the duration of their legal case.

Areas of practise will include deportation law and appeals on Article 8 grounds, refugee and human rights claims, trafficking claims and representation in NRM referrals, nationality law and citizenship claims and family and private life claims. There is opportunity to undertake judicial review challenges and legal advocacy in the First-tier and Upper-tier Tribunals, Immigration and Asylum Chamber. The postholder will conduct and supervise a diverse range of casework under LAA supervisor requirements. They will be regulated by OISC or the SRA, dependant on qualification. The postholder will supervise our immigration legal aid contract which we utilise to undertake casework where Exceptional Case Funding has been granted.

Charity Commission: 2 x board members
Time requirement: up to 24 days a year for three years
Remuneration: £350 per day plus reasonable expenses
Location: London or Liverpool
Deadline: 14th April 2022

These two vacancies are senior roles requiring people with the necessary non-executive skills and experience to assist the Chair in providing strategic leadership and oversight of the Charity Commission.  The Commission’s work is highly varied and engages with people and institutions throughout England and Wales: the Board seeks to reflect that diversity in its composition. 

Successful candidates will have strong interpersonal, intellectual and analytical skills and sound judgement and the ability to make high level decisions as a senior non-executive, together with a commitment to and appreciation of good corporate governance. Candidates with previous non-executive director or senior executive experience in the private, public and/or not-for-profit sector are welcome to apply, however this is not essential.



At the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies
  
Communications and Business Support Officer
Contract: Permanent, Part-time, Part time - 20 hours per week. Flexible working can be considered within the demands of the role.
Salary:  £13,889 to £15,000 (£25,000-£27,000 Full Time Equivalent) dependent on experience
Location: Bloomsbury, London (hybrid working)
Deadline: 26th April 2022
Join our small, dynamic team providing support to not-for-profit adoption agencies across the UK.

This is a vital post supporting the voluntary adoption sector to do its best for the families it works with. As Communications and Business Support Officer, you will be part of a team working to deliver excellent services to CVAA members and keep them abreast of the latest developments across adoption and children’s social care, through newsletters, website, social media and events.

You will also be responsible for the smooth running of the CVAA office and be the first point of contact for the organisation, speaking with agencies on a daily basis. You will take the lead in organising board meetings for our Trustees, taking minutes, preparing key documents and managing diaries.



At NSPCC

Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer
This role does not require a degree and is #OpenToAll 
Contract: Permanent, 35 hours a week
Salary: £29,607 to £34,832, plus £3,366 London Weighting
Location: Flexible, home working / London
Deadline: 3rd May 2022

The NSPCC exists to prevent cruelty to children. We are seeking a new Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer to join us in shaping law, policy, and practice to ensure that children in the UK can grow up free from abuse. 

You will become part of a supportive and high-performing team, where you will play a leading role in influencing work that ensures legislative and policy frameworks in England and the UK are fit for purpose in preventing the abuse and neglect of children. You will develop and drive our policy work on the early years and the welfare and wellbeing of babies, children and families in England. You will also deliver public affairs and parliamentary strategies aimed at strengthening the child protection and children’s social care systems. 

Events, training and consultancy services

From Little Village:

It Takes a Village: A Little Village research report
Supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation  You are invited to join Little Village to hear the conclusions of their research into poverty rates among families with children under five, and the ways we can tackle it together.
When: 12:00pm - 1:15pm, Tuesday 26th April 2022
Where: Zoom link will be sent to confirmed attendees
Chaired by Sonia Sodha, Chief Leader Writer and columnist, The Observer
On the panel:
  • Carla Cebula, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Emilie De Brujin, Chair, Hartlepool Baby Bank
  • Sophie Livingstone MBE, CEO, Little Village
  • Anneka Russell, Early Years consultant
  • Professor Karen Wells, Birkbeck, University of London 


From NSPCC:

How Safe
Date: 11th - 12th May 2022
Online
This event will provide the latest information and guidance on recommended safeguarding practices. Key topics include: safeguarding in sport; the impact of physical punishment on children; and understanding the Online Safety Bill. All sessions will be available on-demand for four weeks after the event.
For Children England's current events calendar please
click through to our website.

Up to date lists for our training services are also online, as is a price list for the courses you can request from us. 

Consultations

(new consultations and inquiries are marked in *bold*):

Closing 27th April 2022
Department for Education: Review of post-16 qualifications at level 2 and below

Closing 28th April 2022
Government Equalities Office: LGBT+ Business Champion's call to engage on inclusion at work

Closing 29th April 2022
Committee on Standards in Public Life: the role of leadership in the Principles of Public Life

Closing 10th May 2022 *Closing 20th May 2022*
Department for Education: Free early education for 2-year-olds with No Recourse to Public Funds

*Closing 1st July 2022*
Department for Education and Department of Health and Social Care: SEND review

Closing 7th July 2022
Department of Health and Social Care: Changes to the Mental Capacity Act

Resources for children, families and practitioners during Coronavirus


Advice from children and young people themselves
We're delighted to be able to share with you six E-zines produced by children and young people involved with Brighton's Safety Net. They include activities, advice and information - straight from young people themselves. They're pretty useful if you're an adult too! Safety Net also produce a newsletter for parents and carers called Safety Rocks - here is Spring '21 edition.

Direct support for children and young people and their families

Educational resources

Safeguarding resources

Support with service delivery and management 

  • For social workers from BASW: COVID-19 updates – find out more about vaccinations, how to keep yourself and others safe and best practice.
  • Digital Boost - free digital support for small businesses and charities

Finance and commissioning information

Support for staff

Funding opportunities

Children England's news bulletin is produced weekly and is designed to keep you up to date with the latest developments in children and families policy.

If you or your organisation have new research, campaigns or policy development in children and families work that you'd like us to share, send us the details and we'll include it in Children England News.
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