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Today's News

World headlines news relating to children, youth and families

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6,700 Finnish families to gain free access to early-childhood education

The Finnish Government has unveiled a list of new measures to tear down inactivity traps in order to meet its target of raising the national employment rate to 72 per cent.
The Government revealed that the measures agreed upon in its two-day mid-term session are expected to raise the number of the employed by 5,000, according to calculations made by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The employment rate for the 15–64-year-old population improved by 0.6 percentage points from the previous year to 68.7 per cent in 2016, according to data released by Statistics Finland. The improvement was attributable largely to the almost 1.5-percentage point increase – from 68.5 to 69.8 per cent – in the male employment rate. The employment rate for women, on the other hand, remained largely unchanged, at 67.6 per cent.

New Zealand: $2m to go to Maori and Pasifika youth mental health research

A high number of Maori and Pasifika youth are suffering from a mental health illness and now a $2 million research grant is set to help better support them. The Health Research Council of New Zealand has announced its involvement with UK-based Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases organisation - a collection of the world's largest public research funding groups. The GACD funds joint initiatives looking at lifestyle-related chronic diseases such as diabetes, specific cancers, cardiovascular diseases and mental health. The HRC's first big programme, as part of the organisation, is a $2 million funding scheme that will go towards research to find better strategies to help young Pasifika and Maori struggling with mental health issues such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders.

UK: Children's hospital units forced to close to new patients due to staff shortages

Hospital units that treat children and very sick babies are having to shut their doors temporarily to new patients because they are “dangerously” short of specialist staff, a new report reveals. Widespread shortages of paediatric doctors and nurses also means that the care children receive is being put at risk, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. A chronic lack of staff is forcing doctors to take potentially life or death decisions about which patients to treat quickly, one paediatrician said. “Last night we only had one registrar instead of two. We had an emergency in A&E and [the] labour ward at the same time and she had to make a snap decision which to go to. It’s being forced to dice with death,” said the medic, who asked to remain anonymous. Another paediatrician said: “It’s becoming normal to do the work of two or three so corners are constantly being cut and kids don’t get the time and attention they deserve.”

UK: Children and Social Work Bill to become law within a week

The Children and Social Work Bill is set to receive Royal Assent and become law within a week, the government has said. Children's minister Edward Timpson said the bill is set to be approved by the Queen prior to parliament dissolving ahead of June's general election. By law, parliament is dissolved 25 working days before a general election - which will be 00.01am on Wednesday 3 May. Parliament will be "prorogued" a few days before dissolution. At prorogation, all parliamentary business will end but parliament will continue to exist until dissolution. "We anticipate that the Children and Social Work Bill will receive Royal Assent when Parliament prorogues," said Timpson, speaking in parliament yesterday. The Children and Social Work Bill will result in a number of significant changes. It will lead to a new system of regulation for social workers, change the factors courts and practitioners consider when making decisions on adoptions, and establish a panel to identify serious child safeguarding cases that require review.



In America's poorest communities, a greater risk of child abuse deaths

Growing up in a poor family is a well-known risk factor for child abuse, but a new analysis suggests it may also raise a young child's chances of dying from that abuse. More than 11,000 children, from newborn to age 4, died of physical abuse in the United States during the 15-year study period. In U.S. counties with the highest levels of poverty, rates of child abuse fatalities were more than three times greater than in counties with the lowest levels of poverty, the researchers found. Infants accounted for 20 percent of children in the study, but 45 percent of child abuse deaths. In high-poverty counties, there were 9.6 infant deaths per 100,000. The study also highlights racial disparities. It found that the fatality rate for black children in the lowest-poverty communities is higher than the rate for white children in counties with the highest levels of poverty. Child abuse fatalities truly remain a significant problem for especially young children in the United States," said study lead author Dr. Caitlin Farrell.

New Zealand: $2m to go to Maori and Pasifika youth mental health research

A high number of Maori and Pasifika youth are suffering from a mental health illness and now a $2 million research grant is set to help better support them. The Health Research Council of New Zealand has announced its involvement with UK-based Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases organisation - a collection of the world's largest public research funding groups. The GACD funds joint initiatives looking at lifestyle-related chronic diseases such as diabetes, specific cancers, cardiovascular diseases and mental health.
The HRC's first big programme, as part of the organisation, is a $2 million funding scheme that will go towards research to find better strategies to help young Pasifika and Maori struggling with mental health issues such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders.

EU Commission says protecting migrant children should be ‘top priority’

The EU Commission, meeting In Brussels last week, has issued a detailed call for action to safeguard migrating children arriving in Europe. The European Commission has set out the actions that it believes are necessary to reinforce the protection of ‘all children at all stages’ of the migratory process. These are important, it says, to ensure that migrant children are swiftly identified when they arrive in the EU and that they receive appropriate and adequate treatment. Over the past two years, a growing number of migrant children have arrived in the EU, many of them without their families. In 2015 and 2016, 30 percent of asylum applicants in the EU were children. While EU and Member States’ legislation provide a solid framework for protection, the recent surge in arrivals has put national systems under pressure and exposed gaps and shortcomings. The Commission, via a number of conferences and reports has concluded that, as children in migration are exposed to high risks of violence, trafficking or exploitation along migration routes – or may go missing, or become separated from their families – they require a specific protection.The Commission says that this is why it needs to identify the actions to safeguard them more effectively. This includes ensuring trained personnel are available to assist children during their status determination and that children are provided with sustainable long-term perspectives through better access to education and health care.

UK: Sir Martin Narey to lead fostering stocktake

Longstanding government adviser Sir Martin Narey has been appointed to jointly lead a national stocktake of foster care provision. The DfE said the stocktake, which is due to conclude in December, is intended to help build a comprehensive picture of what the fostering system looks like in England and where and how it could be improved. Narey has previously advised the government on adoption and the reform of social work education (both in 2014). In 2016, he completed an independent review of residential children's homes. He will lead the stocktake alongside Mark Owers, a children and families social worker who has held a number of senior positions including chief executive of the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies. "The review will help us to improve our understanding of current provision and how placements are made, where the system works well and what can be learned nationally from good practice," a call for evidence document published by the DfE states.

Child victims of sexual abuse in families let down by system: report

Child victims of sexual abuse within families are being let down by the system, the children’s commissioner for England has said. Young people are often left to report the abuse themselves when the authorities fail to pick up on signs, a report by the commissioner’s office found. Even after their experiences are disclosed, investigations into sexual offences against children tend to take an average of 100 days longer than those against adults, it said. Victims also often face long waits for therapy, and many are blocked from having counselling in the run-up to their court cases. Abuse within family environments is thought to make up two-thirds of all child sexual abuse, and as few as one in eight victims come to the attention of authorities, previous research by the commissioner’s office found. Some survivors have now described feeling abandoned after telling their families about the trauma they had suffered, and in powerful testimonies they spoke of their frustrations at a lack of support. 



Autism Awareness Month: free access to special article collection

An estimated one in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) in the US has been diagnosed with autism. These children can have challenges with social skills, speech and nonverbal communication, caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. They can have a range of learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities, from being gifted to having serious problems. Throughout National Autism Awareness Month in April, organizations such as the Autism Society are promoting acceptance of the condition in a society that often has a poor understanding of what it means to be autistic. To support this initiative, we have collated the most recent and popular research and review articles on autism from across Elsevier’s portfolio of psychology journals, exploring clinical, experimental and developmental aspects of autism. The collection is free to access until 1 October 2017 at:

Children discovered on brink of starvation in Belarusian orphanages

Almost 100 children and young people have been found on the brink of starvation in orphanages in Belarus, prompting widespread public revulsion and a criminal investigation. Prosecutors, doctors and officials from children’s homes have revealed that clusters of severely malnourished youngsters have languished in the homes for years. Some teenagers weighed as little as 15kg (2st 5lb) and one 20-year-old was just 11.5kg. Images from the homes in the capital, Minsk, recall other episodes of neglected children in the region, particularly the Romanian orphan scandal of the early 1990s. Many are too gruesome for the Guardian to publish. The authorities have launched an investigation into how children ended up in such a life-threatening state. Prosecutors say they are the victims of neglect and malnutrition, and that several orphanage directors have been fired. Orphanages have countered by saying that the children’s physical frailty is born of psychological problems.

South Africa: Little progress for youth with disabilities

South Africa has made little progress in addressing the discrimination and exclusion faced by children with disabilities when accessing schools, Human Rights Watch and Section 27 said today. South Africa’s national government needs to take urgent action to demonstrate its commitment to inclusive education. Section 27, a leading South African public interest law center, conducted new research demonstrating widespread and severe violations of the rights of children with disabilities, including the ongoing discrimination and the lack of concrete action to address areas of high exclusion in the Umkhanyakude District of KwaZulu-Natal. Based on interviews with 100 caregivers of children with disabilities and visits to 14 special and full-service schools, it described the situation there as a “dual racial and disability apartheid in South Africa’s education system.” “While senior government officials have made encouraging statements about inclusion of all children in education, the government has not translated its commitment into action,” said Elin Martínez, children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government is failing thousands of children and young people with disabilities who are being denied their right to inclusive education.”

UK: DfE delays mental health check pilots for children entering care

Planned trials to assess the mental health of children entering the care system have been delayed, the Department for Education has confirmed. Up to 10 pilot areas were set to start testing new approaches to mental health assessments for looked-after children by May. But a DfE spokeswoman has confirmed that the pilots, first announced in November 2016, have been placed on hold. The DfE has attributed the situation to the snap general election and the forthcoming purdah period, whereby government departments must not undertake any activity that could call into question their political impartiality, but has declined to comment further. Under the plans, mental health assessments will be conducted in addition to existing health assessments children receive when they are taken into care.



One child or youth injured by 'firearms' nearly every day in Ontario, pediatricians find

The number of children and young people injured by firearms in Ontario amounts to nearly one a day, according to a study published in Monday's issue of CMAJ. Researchers from the Hospital for Sick Children and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences analyzed health and administrative databases with a focus on firearm injuries among residents in Ontario aged 24 and younger between 2008 and 2012. Sick Kids staff physician Dr. Natasha Saunders and her team found of the 355 firearm injuries each year, approximately 23 to 25 children or youth – or about seven per cent – die from those injuries. Deaths, but not injuries, are tracked nationally.

The trafficking of young adults isn't only a problem in developing nations

In the U.S. and Canada, nearly one-fifth of homeless youth are victims of human trafficking, according to new studies. Of 911 homeless young adults interviewed between February 2014 and March 2017, about 20 percent reported being trafficked for sex, labor or both. The majority, 15 percent, were trafficked for sex, 7.4 percent were trafficked for labor, and 3 percent were trafficked for both. The findings, based on the largest-ever combined sample of homeless youth in the U.S. and Canada, are the result of a joint project of the University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University New Orleans. Researchers interviewed 17- to 25-year-olds in 13 cities from Vancouver to the District of Columbia to ask about human trafficking, which the U.S. government defines as "modern-day slavery" that "involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act." Debra Schilling Wolfe, executive director of the University of Pennsylvania's Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research, said trafficking rates were consistent despite the different sizes of the cities. Most of the youth interviewed had used services at Covenant House, a charity that operates the largest network of shelters and community service centers for homeless youth in North America.

One in four young Australians 'in psychological distress'

Almost a quarter of young Australians are living with "probable serious mental illness", according to a study. The number of people aged 15-19 in psychological distress is higher than five years ago, said the report by a charity and a mental health group. It also showed girls and indigenous Australians are more likely to suffer serious mental illness. The report recommended more investment in evidence-based online support tools and improving mental health education. Key areas of concern for young people include coping with stress, school and study problems, and depression, according to the Mission Australia and Black Dog Institute findings. "Adolescence comes with its own set of challenges for young people," said Mission Australia chief executive Catherine Yeomans. "But we are talking about an alarming number of young people facing serious mental illness, often in silence and without accessing the help they need." Black Dog Institute director Helen Christensen said: "These findings confirm that mental illness is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st Century, and one that has to be tackled by the community, health services and families."

UK: Concerns over major drop in adopter recruitment

A briefing published by the Adoption Leadership Board, which was set up in early 2014 to oversee the adoption system, reveals in that it is concerned a slump in adoption placement orders in recent years has led to a "substantial contraction" of adopter recruitment by councils and voluntary adoption agencies. "The latest available data suggests that there are more approved adopters waiting than children," says the briefing. More needs to be done to attract suitable adoptive parents for children with complex needs amid a sharp drop in recruitment, an influential body set up by the government to drive through adoption reform has warned.



USA: FosterClub and InsideTrack partner to coach foster youth into college

With an aim to help more foster youth attend and complete college, nonprofit organization FosterClub is partnering with educational services company InsideTrack to provide college-related “coaching” to 12 current and former foster youth in seven different states. InsideTrack’s coaches will work with each youth in the program on planning for their future, selecting the right college and building the skills needed for long-term and academic success, according to a press release. The coaches will continue to work with these students throughout their first year of post-secondary education. The two organizations are announcing their partnership for the first time today. But they say the program is already underway and providing coaching services for 12 students who are currently finishing up high school in the states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, California, Washington and Oregon. InsideTrack is typically paid by universities to coach students, Dave Jarrat, vice president of InsideTrack, said in an interview. In this partnership, InsideTrack’s services will be provided pro bono to the foster youth that FosterClub helped identify. “This is an attempt for us to engage more deeply with the foster care community and make those services available pro bono to students who won’t otherwise be able to access them,” Jarrat said.

Australia: NT elders hope app can save young lives

Northern Territory elders are hoping to save young Aboriginal lives by creating Australia's first indigenous community-led suicide prevention app. Self harm is the leading killer of young indigenous people, but elders from one remote Northern Territory community bucking that trend hope to save lives by bringing their traditional wisdom into the digital age. Warlpiri elders from Lajamanu have partnered with the Black Dog Institute to develop Australia's first indigenous community-led suicide prevention app. Dubbed Kurdiji 1.0, the app is designed to build resilience and boost self-value in kids by reconnecting them with Aboriginal culture, community and country. The initial version will be offered in English and Warlpiri, but elders hope the app will eventually reach as many traditional languages as possible. If that goes well, they want to expand the app for sectors of the non-indigenous community struggling with high suicide rates, such as farmers in rural areas. Black Dog Institute's clinical psychologist, Dr Fiona Shand, says Aboriginal suicide rates have been increasing over the past decade. Indigenous Australians rarely seek help for mental illness due to geographical isolation, stigma and concerns about confidentiality. But the Kurdiji 1.0 app breaks down those barriers. "This is an early intervention, something you can deliver universally to young people to prevent depression," Dr Shand said.

UK: Thousands of children seeking help for 'loneliness'

More than 4,000 children contacted the Childline telephone support service for help after suffering loneliness last year because they were feeling isolated and "lonely". The NSPCC said it delivered 4,063 counselling sessions via its Childline service to under-18s in 2016/17, who said they were struggling with feelings of isolation. This was the first year the organisation collected data about the problem, after noticing a rise in calls related to the issue. Female callers made at least 73 per cent of the calls (2,978), compared with at least 14 per cent made by boys (582 calls). The remaining callers (503) did not disclose their gender. NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said there was no single reason why so many children were experiencing isolation. Some callers blamed social media for leading them to make unrealistic life comparisons with other people, which left them feeling "ugly and unpopular". Others said they felt lonely after moving house or school, or losing a close friend or relative after a death or relationship break-up. "What is clear is that the world is becoming an increasingly complex place to grow up in with children and teenagers' facing daily pressures to achieve what society defines as a successful life - grades, relationships, physical appearance," Wanless said.

New Zealand: Critics claim youth mental health system is reaching breaking point

Youth mental health services are hitting breaking point with desperate parents reporting children have to be suicidal or self-harming just to get help. New figures show nearly 50 per cent of children up to the age of 11 referred for a specialist mental health appointment last year had to wait more than three weeks. Almost 800 had to wait longer than eight weeks. The Weekend Herald has spoken to five parents who feel their children have been denied by what they say is a broken system. One 6-year-old boy rejected by the system disclosed to a counsellor in the private sector that he had plans to take his own life. Another 12-year-old boy told his mother he wanted to die because "life would be easier if I wasn't here." His mother, Tracey Rountree of Pakuranga, said: "To get any help you need to have your child harm themselves or harm other children. "When he says things like 'I don't want to be here anymore' that's when you feel helpless and don't know what to do," Rountree said.



E.U. seeks stronger protections for child migrants

Facing criticism for neglecting child welfare, European Union authorities appealed on Wednesday to member-state governments to do more to protect the hundreds of thousands of young migrants who reach the Continent seeking refuge from wars and poverty. The recommendations by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, are not binding on member states and do not involve new outlays of money. They are meant instead as guidance to prompt member states to do more to protect children at all stages of the asylum process and to address one of the more delicate aspects of the bloc’s migration crisis. “The number of children arriving in the E.U. with or without their families has increased dramatically,” Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, said in a statement accompanying the recommendations. “We need to make sure that children who need protection actually receive it.” The recommendations call for a person responsible for child protection in all migrant reception centers and at all stages of the asylum process – a new suggestion that is not part of European asylum law. The commission also suggested offering legal assistance without delay to children regardless of their eligibility for asylum.

New Zealand: Suicide and young people

More young people die each year of suicide than cancer and car crashes combined, according to research uncovered by the Aotearoa Students’ Alliance. The most recent data published by the NZ Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee show that 587 young people aged between 15 and 24 died of suicide between 2010 and 2014, compared with 145 of cancer, and 416 of transport accidents. “These data show two things: firstly, that suicide is the most common cause of death for young people; and secondly, that the Government is explicit in its disregard for the mental health of New Zealand’s young”, says Jack Close, spokesperson for the Aotearoa Students’ Alliance. “Meanwhile, according to the OECD, New Zealand has the highest rate of teen suicide in the developed world. The Government is not only failing its own young people, but it is also an embarrassment to New Zealand on the international stage. If suicide were a disease, this catastrophic government failure would be prioritised without a moment’s notice.”

UK: Care applications surge by 14 per cent to new record high

The number of applications for children to be taken into care have hit a new record level, official figures have confirmed. During 2016/17 there were a total of 14,544 care applications. Statistics published by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) show that in March 2017, a total of 1,288 care applications were made – the second highest monthly figure on record. This takes the total number of car applications for the financial year 2016/17 to 14,544, a 13.8 per cent increase on the 2015/16 figure of 12,792, which was itself a record for a single financial year. In September 2016, England's most senior family court judge said the record rise in care applications signalled a looming "crisis". Sir James Munby said the reasons for the increases in care applications are little understood, and although investigations are under way, much more research on the issue is necessary as a matter of urgency. He has called for an increased emphasis on initiatives that aim to solve problems early rather than dealing with them once they emerge.

New Zealand: Band-Aid responses to the deepening housing shortage

New Zealand’s housing crisis appears to be worsening with escalating need as well as wide concern by housing agencies and the Government alike, says Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG). Many children in families who have been living in their cars over summer are facing the possibility of increased ill health, and more days off school if they are not urgently housed in time for winter. Those with chronic respiratory illnesses will face multiple hospitalisations. While it's pleasing that the new Social Housing Minister Amy Adams has acknowledged the growing unmet housing need, to date there has been little evidence of the 'comprehensive social housing plan' which Minister Adams referred to, as the Government continues with its gradual privatisation of state housing. Promises of a few hundred additional social housing units in a few years time have been vague at best. Continuing to pay out more emergency housing grants is a desperate measure, but a necessary one in lieu of a failure to produce any meaningful solution. CPAG says the Government should develop for immediate implementation a 10-year plan for affordable housing, and reverse its current sell-off policy. It must commit a substantial amount of funding toward social housing and other affordable housing options in 2017 Budget and beyond.

UK: Scouts waiting list reaches record high of 51,000

Scout Association figures released today show there are now 457,000 young people involved with Scout movements across the UK but its waiting list now stands at 51,000, the highest level in the organisation's 110-year history. The youth organisation has called for more volunteers to come forward to cope with demand. Tim Kidd, the Scout Association's chief commissioner, said that although it currently has 154,000 volunteers, another record high, many can only offer limited time. "Our adult volunteers today seek much more flexible volunteering arrangements than in the past, so that they can fit it around their busy lives," he said. "Many adults who are signing up with the Scouts have a limited amount of time to donate to us, and so we need more volunteers as a whole in order to accommodate the continued demand for Scouting among young people."



UK: More than 700 children have been injured while being physically restrained

Hundreds of children have been injured while having to be physically restrained in special schools, new figures reveal. An investigation led by BBC Radio 5 live found some pupils were pinned face down on the floor and others were strapped into chairs. Others suffered broken bones while one pupil was reported to have had their head covered with a “spit hood”. There were around 13,000 restraints reported, resulting in at least 731 injuries over the past three years in schools designed for children who are disabled or have special learning needs. Those involved in the investigation said less than a fifth of local authorities were able to provide the data, however, with most responding that they didn’t keep the information. The true number of injuries caused by restraint in special schools is likely to be far higher, they said.

NY: Cuomo touts 'legacy accomplishment' – raising age of criminal responsibility

The state budget agreement outlined by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday includes a major policy shift – raising the age of criminal responsibility for 16- and 17-year-old offenders. According to Cuomo's office, the age of juvenile delinquency would increase from 16 to 17-years-old beginning Oct. 1, 2018. It would then rise to 18 on Oct. 1, 2019. Young offenders won't be housed in adult correctional facilities or jails, including Rikers Island in New York City. And a task force will be created to review the implementation of the "Raise the Age" policy. The members of the task force will be appointed by the governor. Cuomo called raising the age of criminal responsibility a "legacy accomplishment." "They have talked about passing 'Raise the Age' for 12 or 13 years," he said. "It never got done. It was like marriage equality. Tried and failed, tried and failed. This budget does it."

Canada: Specialized youth clinic in downtown Edmonton will offer addiction, mental health services

A new program in Edmonton aimed to provide support and improved access to mental health and addiction services for young people opened its doors Thursday. Known as Access Open Minds (Access OM), the clinic will be located on the first floor of the Bill Rees YMCA downtown, and is specialized for youth ages 11 to 25. Katherine Hay, who works with Alberta Health Services, said providing a welcoming space for youth to get connected to mental health and addiction services is invaluable. “If we identify people early and their experience of addiction and mental health issues, and we provide effective treatment with that early identification and early intervention, the outcomes are much better in the long-term,” she said. Edmonton is the 12th community in Canada – and first in Alberta – to offer an Access OM clinic. It will be staffed by three psychiatrists and two clinicians with a background in social work.

UK: DfE hands care leaver project £3.7m innovation funding

A pioneering housing project where care leavers are involved with refurbishing empty properties that they then move into has been handed £3.7m in innovation funding from the Department for Education to expand it into five new areas. Five councils – Cheshire East, Islington, Solihull, Staffordshire and Warwickshire – will receive cash to establish the project, with Warwickshire County Council taking the lead on the project.



UK: Labour makes £900m free school meals pledge for all primary children

All primary school children in England will receive free school meals if Labour wins the next general election, the party's leader has announced. Jeremy Corbyn said his party would introduce a VAT charge on private school fees to pay for the policy, which it hopes will raise £1.5bn a year. Currently all children in reception class and years 1 and 2 receive free school meals in England, as well as those whose parents receive certain benefits. Research released by the party suggests extending funding for free school meals to all primary school children would cost between £700m and £900m.

Teens travelling alone among latest asylum seekers walking into Manitoba

The number of asylum seekers walking across the Canada-U.S. border into Manitoba is on the rise – including the number of minors making the trek alone. Since the beginning of January, nearly 360 people have made an irregular crossing – meaning one somewhere other than an official border crossing – into Manitoba, according to the refugee settlement agency Welcome Place. "The other thing we're starting to see, which is very much a concern, is a number of minors who are unaccompanied," Welcome Place executive director Rita Chahal told CBC News. "There's no families, there's no support systems in place." One youth crossed alone in February and three others in March, Chahal said, adding they range in age from 15 to 17. "They have their stories. Some of them have been running for a while. It's very scary," she said.

New Zealand: Mental health services failing children at-risk

The Parents of Children with Additional Needs Collective (POCAN NZ) is calling for a nationwide investigation of all Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) after releasing results of a survey of 100 parents regarding their experience. 50% of parents believed their child to be either unsafe or at-risk of suicide prior to accessing CAMH services, and just 6% of those parents believed their children were no longer at-risk as a result of CAHMS intervention. Despite their child having a mental health diagnosis, the majority of parents said that CAMHS did not assess the risk of suicide of their child and any assessment that was carried out was of poor quality. Spokesperson for POCAN (NZ) and parent, Tracey Rountree says “When young people have the highest suicide rates in New Zealand yet we have Child and Adolescent Mental Health services not assessing children with a mental health condition for their risk of suicide, then we have a problem.” 89% of parents participating in the survey reported that there was no improvement in their child’s anxiety/depression and 77% reported there was no improvement in their child’s behaviour after CAMHS intervention. Overall, parents found the helpfulness and quality of the service to be below average and the effectiveness of the service was perceived as minimal. 

Australia: Kids leaving NT's out-of-home care, detention without support, Anglicare says

Not-for-profit service Anglicare has hosted a youth homelessness awareness event out the front of NT Parliament, calling for greater help for young people leaving detention and state care. When young people are released from youth detention, it is not uncommon for them to walk out of the prison with no money, and nowhere to go. The same problem can be faced by children who have been in the care of the state, when they turn 18 and leave. David Pugh, the chief executive of Anglicare NT, said one of the biggest questions when young people left out-of-home care or youth detention was "where do they go?" A youth detention royal commission has been underway in the NT and Mr Pugh said he would like it to examine the issue of homelessness for former detainees. "The issues are really similar for children coming out of youth detention, or coming out of what we call out-of-home care – those who have been removed from their families because of neglect or abuse," he said. "In fact, one of the myths of youth homelessness is that young people see that as a good option, and bail out of home. "But in reality, 70 per cent of young people who are homeless are escaping domestic violence, serious drug and alcohol issues, or family breakdown, or family mental health.",-detention-with-no-support/8418044

Youth justice trial puts offenders face-to-face with victims in NT program

Low-level offenders in a remote Indigenous community will come face-to-face with their victims as part of a trial justice program that aims to keep them out of jail and heal community wounds. Elders and police from Yuendumu, north-west of Alice Springs, will lead meetings between victims and offenders in a civil process, which could be rolled out to other communities and towns if successful. The restorative justice program trial would only be for offenders who have committed low-level offences, like property crime, the Central Desert Regional Council said. "It's looking at community-based solutions to repairing damage that has been caused by people in the community, particularly to council property," director of community services John Gaynor said. The trial will help the accused stop re-offending by confronting the harm they cause, NT Law Society president Tass Liveris said. "It sends an extremely powerful message for offenders, for young kids who might have done the wrong thing, the impact their actions have had on the community, on individuals, on homes and lives," he said.



Young criminals will be held accountable by YETE (Youth in Education, Training or employment)

Jess McVicar – Youth Advocate for Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST) – believes that New Zealand Firsts proposal to introduce demerit points to ensure young offenders are held accountable for any wayward behaviour has a lot of potential. Last week New Zealand First Announced their bill for Youth Justice to have a demerit points system to be used in a bid to stop the continuing rise in youth crime. Jess says, “This is a brilliant idea and we are 100% behind New Zealand First proposal. Finally someone is talking some sense in Youth Justice, this is a system that will hold youth accountable for their actions, show them there are consequences and at the same time give them an opportunity to stay out of the adult prisons and adult courts. This proposal beats anything coming from youth lobby group Just Speak who want to increase the age of Youth Justice to 21, and recently entered a submission to have ALL youth offenders go through the youth justice system, no matter how serious the crime. If we are serious about reducing the prison population then it is essential that the youth offenders of today do not become the adult criminals of tomorrow.”

University of British Columbia program to coach parents of kids with autism

When toddlers show signs of autism spectrum disorder, parents often have to wait many months before diagnosis and treatment begins. A new program from UBC aims to help parents during this crucial time with coaching on how to improve their development and interact and engage with their children during daily routines. "Many of the ways we will be coaching parents to interact are ways that come very naturally to parents, if their children are responsive," professor Pat Mirenda told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko. "But if children are at risk for autism, they're often not especially responsive. They don't play. They don't interact the way you expect a child to. So, often parents don't interact with them the way they would interact with a typically developing kid. So, we want to teach parents to do those things that we know will promote social and communication growth."

Youth worker regulation gets under way in Wales

The body that regulates education practitioners in Wales has become responsible for the registration and regulation of youth workers, youth support workers, and work-based learning practitioners for the first time. The Education Workforce Council (EWC) said youth workers will join more than 75,000 school and further education teachers and learning support staff on the national register, making Wales the first country in the world to regulate the seven groups of educators. EWC chief executive Hayden Llewellyn said: "Including youth workers, youth support workers and work-based learning practitioners on the register is a bold and welcome step for EWC and for Wales."By bringing non-formal and in-work education in line with formal education, we are enhancing the status of the often overlooked professions of youth work and work-based learning and the increasingly important role they play in young people's wellbeing and education. "This is another world first for Wales, and we look forward to working closely with employers in future to ensure the highest standards of conduct from their staff."

UK: Wildlife trust's bid to get pupils back to nature

A nature conservation group has launched a scheme to get school pupils out of the classroom and into the great outdoors. The Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust has launched a project to offer a range of outdoor learning opportunities to primary and secondary schools across the county. Funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery has meant that activities ranging from taster workshops to Wild PE lessons can be provided. Organisers said it will boost children’s education by giving them hands-on experience of the wild world. Schools are also being invited to take part in the Trust’s new outdoor learning network for educators which aims to inspire teachers to take learning outside by providing them with expert advice and resources. Chris Smith, the Trust’s outdoor learning team lead, welcomed the funding and said the money would be put to good use. He said: “Teachers often ask for our help to get pupils learning outside the classroom, so we are delighted to have secured this valuable funding. “We know that more than 90 per cent of teachers believe that outdoor learning improves pupils’ engagement with learning, and we hope this funding will help schools see first hand the power of the outdoor classroom.”,wildlife-trusts-bid-to-get-pupils-back-to-nature_22091.htm



USA: Muslim schoolchildren bullied by fellow students and teachers

Muslim children are more likely to be bullied in school than children of other faiths. A new survey by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) reveals that 42 percent of Muslims with children in K–12 schools report bullying of their children because of their faith, compared with 23 percent of Jewish and 20 percent of Protestant parents. These results confirm recent findings by other research and advocacy groups showing that bullying of students of color is on the rise. After hearing stories from educators nationwide about the recent surge in bullying, Maureen Costello, director of the Teaching Tolerance program at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), decided to investigate. During the election, Costello sent a questionnaire to thousands of educators across the country. The results were startling. Over 90 percent of educators reported that school climate had been negatively affected by the election. In an earlier survey last March, with over 5,000 respondents, more than 1,000 mentioned Donald Trump – five times more than the other politicians mentioned in the survey combined.

New Zealand: Launch of advocacy service for young people

Minister for Children Anne Tolley and Associate Minister for Children Alfred Ngaro welcome today’s official launch of VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai – the independent advocacy service for children and young people in state care. “VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai is an important part of the Government’s overhaul of our care and protection system,” says Mrs Tolley. “Yesterday the Prime Minister Bill English and I launched the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki which will put children and young people’s needs first, and ensure they have a say in decisions that affect them. “VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai is the first of its kind in New Zealand. There has never been an advocacy service for children and young people who are or have been in care.” Minister Ngaro is attending today’s launch in Auckland, along with a number of children and young people, caregivers and supporters. “Young people have expressed a desire for a service like this for many years, and it was a recommendation of the expert panel which advised the Government on the overhaul of our care and protection system,” says Mr Ngaro. “Set up in partnership with young people who have experienced care, the government, NGOs and philanthropic sector, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, will provide a strong independent voice from children and young people. “It will also connect children and young people in care with each other, and help them build a positive identity and sense of community. 

UK: Welfare shakeup 'will push a quarter of a million children into poverty'

A government shakeup of welfare payments being introduced on Thursday will push a quarter of a million children into poverty while wiping thousands of pounds off payments for bereaved families, according to research. Analysis for the Guardian reveals that a family whose third child is born before midnight on Wednesday could be up to £50,000 better off over 18 years than one whose child is born on Thursday. The crunch for families celebrating a new birth or grieving the loss of a parent is a result of changes coming into effect on 6 April. They were announced when George Osborne was chancellor and are being enacted by Theresa May’s government. One of the changes means all households that have a third or subsequent baby will – aside from a limited set of exemptions – no longer be able to claim child tax credits. Policy in Practice found that more than 600,000 families – championed as the “just about managing” households, which the prime minister vowed to protect on her first day in government – would be hit by the child welfare cuts, while many more could be affected by other cuts. An expected 8,000 third or additional children are expected to miss out on support of up to £2,780 a year in April, a figure that could climb to 104,000 over the next 12 months, said the authors of the study.

Australia: NT youth detention system focuses on punitive measures, 'fails our young people'

The youth detention system in the Northern Territory is one that likely leaves young people more damaged than when they went in, the royal commission's interim report has said. The detention facilities are not only unfit as places to accommodate children and young people, but are not fit for the purpose of rehabilitation. "They are harsh, bleak and not in keeping with modern standards. They are punitive, not rehabilitative," the report read. Commissioner Margaret White, who jointly heads the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, said evidence over the last eight months, and in particular in the last three weeks, had made it clear the system was broken and had "failed at every level". "We've seen that a detention system that focuses on punitive, not rehabilitative measures, fails our young people, it fails those who work in those systems, and it fails the people of the Northern Territory who are entitled to live in safer communities," Ms White said. Ms White delivered the report to Attorney-General George Brandis, who is expected to table it in Federal Parliament today. The document does not make specific recommendations, but does make interim observations.

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