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World headlines news relating to children, youth and families

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US: Report shows decline in prescription opioid misuse among young adults

The Wolf Administration has announced a report by the Pennsylvania State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (SEOW) that found a decline in prescription opioid misuse among young Pennsylvanians from 2011 to 2014. Representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs were part of the SEOW. “This information is good news,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “Youth and young adults appear to understand the significant danger of addiction and possible death from the misuse of opioids.” According to the report in 2011, 10.8 percent of young adult Pennsylvanians (aged between 18 and 25) were estimated to have misused a prescription opioid, such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin or others. By 2014, the study found that number declined to 8.7 percent. Among Pennsylvania youths (12- to 17-year-olds), the estimate went from 6 percent to 4.5 percent in the same span. “This report is an encouraging sign in our fight against the opioid epidemic,” DDAP Acting Secretary Jennifer Smith said. “It found a decline in the misuse of prescription opioids among teens and young adults in Pennsylvania that we hope means that we are educating young people about the dangers of opioid use, including addiction.”

UK: Teach pupils to avoid gangs' - children's commissioner

Pupils should be taught in school how to avoid being sucked into gangs or exploited by older criminals, the children's commissioner has said. Anne Longfield said personal, social, health and economics education (PSHE) lessons should help children spot when they are being targeted by gangs. It follows reports children are being used by criminals as "money mules". She said children looking for "a sense of belonging, fast money" or "glamour" were at risk. Ms Longfield's research has found 46,000 children in England are involved in gangs. The commissioner also called for police forces to work together to produce better data on the number of children targeted by gangs.

UK: MPs to launch inquiry into care thresholds

An inquiry into local authority thresholds for when a child should be taken into care will be conducted by MPs and peers, it has been announced. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) said the inquiry, which will officially launch in mid-September, will be informed by the findings of a survey of the children's social care workforce in England currently being conducted. Former children's minister Tim Loughton, who chairs the APPGC, said the group is keen to hear directly from social workers about how decisions around threshold levels were made in practice. He said children's services are under increasing pressure. "As purse strings tighten, and children's services have to respond to an ever-widening range of challenges, is there a risk we often only help those in most dire need?" he said. "[We want to] understand these pressures, and establish how high the bar is before services step in to help a child in need." The thresholds inquiry follows on from the APPGC's No Good Options report into children's social care that was published earlier this year. It found evidence of later intervention and significant variation in the way children's needs were being assessed and met in the UK.

Reach website “an advice service like no other” – Scottish Youth Parliament

An online advice portal, designed by young people for young people, has received high praise from the Scottish Youth Parliament and is being recommended as a resource by all MSYPs. Reach, the website developed and run by Enquire, is designed to help young people find help and support for issues which may be affecting their school life and education. The website was the focus of discussion at the Scottish Youth Parliament’s sitting in March of this year, reflecting on the welcome and active participation of young people and the excellent resource produced as a result. Aqeel Ahmed, previous Convenor of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Education and Lifelong Learning Committee, took the time to write to staff at Enquire to highlight the Parliament’s support. “We think the website is not just a resource for those who are struggling with mental health or are being bullied. It’s a resource for all of Scotland’s young people; an advice service like no other,” he said. “It has everything you want all on the same website! If you need exam advice, contacts for support organisations, are being bullied, or are having trouble with mental health, go visit now, folks!”



Canada: Health professionals concerned over marijuana legalization

Two local health professionals are sounding the alarms about legalization of marijuana in 2018. They cite lack of research about the health impacts and inadequate health services to respond to the changes. Alan Murdock, local pediatrician, says more research is needed to determine how cannabis use affects the brain. “We still don’t know all the different cannabinoids and how they affect the brain. Different strains are going to do different things and the government is moving forward faster than the science.” While the government has been talking about regulation, he says little discussion has occurred on how cannabis use affects users under the age of 25. He says evidence suggests regular cannabis will cause ADHD by damaging the brain in areas that control memory and focus. In May the Canadian Paediatric Society released a report that said adolescents who use marijuana regularly had lower brain volumes, different folding patterns and thinning of the cortex, less neural connectivity and lower white matter integrity.
The affected brain would then work overtime to compensate for the areas that had been damaged by THC – the active ingredient in marijuana, the report says. The study also said in 2010 Canada’s youth ranked first among 43 countries and regions across Europe and North America for marijuana use. Around one-third of youth had tried marijuana by the age of 15.The legislation is intending to keep marijuana out of the hands of youth, while clamping down on crime.

Province announces funding increase for foster parents

The Nova Scotia provincial government announced an increase in funding for foster parents on Thursday, and foster families say it's a step in the right direction. As of Aug. 1, there will be an increase to per diem rates, more money to pay for babysitters and a new monthly auto-payment for travel expenses. "Today is a good day to be a foster parent in Nova Scotia," Wendell Fraser, chair of the Federation of Foster Families of Nova Scotia, said at Thursday's announcement. "No matter where we live in this province, the process will be the same and the turnaround of expenses will be the same … This process will ensure foster parents are reimbursed promptly." Maureen Wickwire, who has been a foster parent for 12 years – and fostered more than 35 children – said they've been asking the community services minister for 10 years to increase per diems to catch up with today's cost of living. "I know it seems like a small jump," she said. "It's not a lot, but it is a step, a step further. The biggest thing it means is that we're being recognized, that somebody is listening."

UK: Minister visits Scarborough centre with a national lead

The Children’s Minister, Robert Goodwill, last Friday visited a North Yorkshire County Council centre in Scarborough that is leading the way nationally in improving the lives of young people. The minister talked to young people and staff at the No Wrong Door centre in Stepney Road about the impact of the service on their lives. No Wrong Door, which has been rated outstanding by Ofsted, replaces traditional council-run care homes with hubs which combine residential care with fostering along with on-site support from clinical psychologists who act as life coaches, speech and language therapists and a supportive police role. The service is proving highly effective in breaking the traditional cycle of young people who enter the care system and who go on to engage in offending and high risk-taking behaviour. Young people supported by No Wrong Door told the minister that the service had changed their lives and that they trusted staff to help them out and point them in the right direction whatever their difficulties; that it was like being part of a big family. A recent evaluation of the service for the Department for Education recommended that it should inform national policy and practice.

Cambodia: Orphanages to get local oversight

The Ministry of Social Affairs today will lay out its plans for the transfer of oversight of the Kingdom’s controversial network of orphanages to local governments, part of an ambitious attempt to move thousands of Cambodian children out of residential care and back into their communities. Sub-Decree 34, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen in March, will be disseminated to authorities at a workshop in Phnom Penh. It hands the power to monitor and manage orphanages to the provincial, district and commune levels to “improve the quality of these services, as the people responsible for their delivery will be closer and more in touch with the needs of their communities”. Almost 80 percent of the estimated 16,579 children living in Cambodian orphanages have at least one living parent, and child rights advocates have repeatedly called out the harms of institutionalisation. The government plans to reintegrate 30 percent of children in orphanages into community care by the end of next year, with a pilot programme launched in Battambang on Tuesday.



Ontario NDP statement on First Nations youth health and safety crisis

Ontario NDP critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Michael Mantha issued the following statement today following an announcement by the ministers of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Health and Long-Term Care and Children and Youth Services regarding mental health counsellors on the Pikangikum First Nation. “Mental health care is health care, and for too long, Indigenous communities haven’t had appropriate access to either. This week’s announcement regarding more counsellor resources for Pikangikum First Nation is welcome – we’re hopeful that individuals will finally receive the help they need, that they’ve waited too long for. However, other First Nation communities throughout Ontario are also in a state of emergency. With suicide, especially among youth, tragically all too common, Ontario needs a government that is ready to step up and ensure everyone has mental health care they can count on – before it’s too late. Help from federal and provincial governments has been slow to arrive. Lives are at stake – that can’t continue."

How a change in attitude toward adoption from foster care is changing lives across Canada

With more than 30,000 children in Canada waiting to be adopted, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is excited to see that more Canadians are seriously considering foster care adoption, and are also embracing the idea that every child is adoptable. According to a recent survey conducted by Nielson on behalf of the Foundation, 26 percent of Canadians who haven’t adopted are considering it, up 5 percent since 2012. Of those individuals, more than half (58%) are considering foster care adoption. This is encouraging news as more and more children enter the foster care system each year. Giving more hope to the Foundation is the discovery that of the Canadians considering foster care adoption, more than 66 percent are serious about it, which is an 11% increase over 2012 and could result in more adoptive homes for waiting children. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is unique in that it focuses on finding adoptive parents for children in foster care, specifically children who are at risk of aging out without being adopted, such as those with special needs, sibling groups who would benefit from being adopted together and older children who have spent years in foster care.

UK: Youth mental health participation project set to expand

A youth project that enlists 14- to 25-year-olds to improve mental health services for young people is going to be launched in more areas following a successful trial. The MH:2K project recruits young people as "citizen researchers" who gather the views of their peers on mental ill-health and then work with local decision makers to develop recommendations for change. Since starting in September 2016, a pilot in Oldham has engaged more than 600 young people including its 20-strong team of citizen researchers. The originators of the MH:2K model ›– the public participation charity Involve and the youth social enterprise Leaders Unlocked – now plan to launch in four as-yet-unnamed local authority areas in September, and eventually hope to offer the scheme nationally. In the final report of the Oldham pilot, the young researchers made 30 recommendations including getting health visitors to give awareness raising talks about mental health in religious venues and schools to become better informed about the pressure and scrutiny young people feel from their use of social media. The young people also called for more community activities and the provision of ‘drop boxes' in schools that make it easier for young people to tell staff about their self-harming. Oldham Council is now examining how to implement the young people's suggestions.

UK: Redbridge Council to discount council tax bills for foster carers

The move, which is set to come in effect in September, will see foster carers receive a 60 per cent discount on their council tax bill. Care leavers will also be exempt until they are 25. The move was welcomed by Sam Royston, director of policy and research at The Children’s Society. She said: “We’re delighted that Redbridge Council is introducing this policy because the exemption will make life easier for many young people making the move into independent living.” “Care leavers have often experienced a really difficult upbringing and they may have experienced abuse, neglect or family breakdown which can have a big impact upon their life chances. “Without the family support most young people get as they become adults, care leavers often struggle to juggle their household bills and make ends meet. Many find themselves in debt, or having to go without food or other basic necessities. “To expect some of the country’s most vulnerable young people to start paying council tax just days after leaving care is setting them up to fail. The announcement is part of a wider drive to encourage more people to become foster carers in Redbridge.


24 JULY 

USA: State's top child welfare agency is doing bad job overseeing foster care providers

The state’s top child welfare agency is doing a poor job overseeing foster care providers in New York, according to an audit made public Friday. State Controller Thomas DiNapoli’s report blasted the Office of Children and Family Services for failing to ensure that local governments and volunteer agencies provide foster care that meets state requirements. "The agency is not ensuring that caseworkers are making timely and frequent contact with children, their parents and their foster parents,” DiNapoli said. “While the demands on the agency are significant, oversight needs to be improved." DiNapoli’s auditors reviewed a sample of 150 cases from a group of upstate and suburban counties and found that in 33 instances there was no record of caseworkers making the required two visitations within 30 days of a child’s placement. In one instance, a foster child in Schenectady County did not receive a visit from a caseworker until 91 days after placement. DiNapoli’s auditors also found instances where there was no evidence that foster care providers had been properly certified or that criminal background checks had been conducted on foster care providers or others who come in contact with the children. The failure to ensure certification increased the risk that children would be placed in an “unacceptable environment,” the audit stated.

Ireland: Nearly 1,500 children were taken into emergency care over four years

An independent TD has called for Government action in relation to the number of emergency care orders taken out for children. Figures released to Mattie McGrath show that close to 1,500 children were taken into emergency care over the four-year period between 2012 to 2015. An emergency care order is made through the Courts service when there is a real and immediate risk to the child’s safety and welfare and they need to be removed from their family. Over 2015 – the latest year for which figures are available - 270 children were brought into emergency care. This compares to 366 in 2014; 414 in 2013; and 424 in 2012. This brings the total figure to 1,474. Commenting on the figures, McGrath questioned whether Tusla the Child and Family Agency had sufficient resources to deal with the number of children entering care. “I have been consistently calling on the Minister for Children to take a far more direct approach on these matters,” he said. In a response, a spokesperson for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs “only intervenes in family life in exceptional cases”. “However, if there is a serious child protection concern that a child is experiencing abuse (including significant neglect), and the child needs immediate protection, Tusla may apply to the courts to an emergency care order,” the spokesperson said. In total this year, there were 47,399 referrals made to Tusla’s child protection and welfare services by professionals and members of the public throughout 2016.

New Zealand: Grandparent caregivers receive “dreadful” treatment by Work and Income

An in-depth analysis of more than 800 grandparent care families desperately seeking support needed to look after their grandchildren has revealed concerns about our welfare systems in New Zealand. Kate Bundle, Chief Executive of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust, says that their large research had identified “massive problems” with their clients accessing the Unsupported Child Benefit (UCB). The figures speak for themselves, she notes. “Only fifteen percent are told they are entitled to the UCB on first approach, while many others are erroneously told they are not entitled to any support”. Bundle notes that many grandparents wait “years” for assistance. “Last year one woman bringing up five grandchildren received years of arrears in a lump sum and an apology, although she still only has about half the amount she was actually entitled to and she is not alone. We have many grandparents turning to us for help to get financial support for the children in their care, when they should have received it years ago”. The full report is available at this link.

Australia: Queensland to trial professional foster carers

The Queensland government has announced a trial of professional foster carers to help children and young people with high-support needs. Nurses and teachers will be targeted in a Queensland trial of professional foster carers to keep up to 30 children and young people with high-support needs in a stable home environment. The two-year program will see $3 million spent on ensuring carers are able to care for large sibling groups as well as support children who have a disability, have suffered trauma or need specialised behavioural support. The professional foster carers will be paid up to $65,000 a year depending on the individual needs of the child. They will also receive training in fields such as child development and counselling. "We are extremely lucky to have so many families out there willing to step in and provide a loving home for children who cannot live safely at home," Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said. "But we know there are some children coming into care who need an extra level of support and these professional foster carers will help fill that gap." The number of professional foster carers employed during the trial and how long a child remains with a carer will be determined on individual circumstances. Opposition spokeswoman Ros Bates criticised Labor for taking two-and-a-half years and an impending election to act on child safety.



Alberta government 'not going to wait' for feds to close First Nations child welfare gap

The Alberta government plans to provide more money and services to children at risk on reserves, then later “fight with the feds if we have to” about the cost, the deputy premier says. In the wake of another troubling report, deputy premier Sarah Hoffman said Wednesday the province will step in with more cash and other help where child and family services are underfunded on First Nations. “The federal government obviously has a responsibility to address those funding gaps,” Hoffman said. “We’re not going to wait for them to step up and do the right thing. We’ve been fighting for decades and children deserve better.” Last year, a landmark ruling from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found the federal government discriminated against First Nations children on reserve by chronically underfunding services for children in care. Cindy Blackstock, the social worker who persisted with the complaint, has said child welfare services on reserves receive between 22 and 39 per cent less funding than provincially run agencies. The federal government has increased its funding to delegated First Nations agencies that oversee child welfare on reserves, promising $120 million more over five years for Alberta services.

UK: Half of pupils expelled from school have mental health issue, study finds

Half of all pupils expelled from school are suffering from a recognised mental health problem, according to a study. Those who are permanently excluded find themselves at a significant disadvantage, with only one in a hundred going on to attain five good GCSEs, which are often used as a benchmark of academic success. The majority will end up in prison, says the study by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which estimates that of the 86,000-strong prison population, more then 54,000 were excluded at school. The IPPR says its research lays bare the “broken system” facing excluded pupils. It flags up high levels of mental health issues among permanently excluded students – at least one in two, compared with one in 50 pupils in the wider population. The thinktank also highlights the disadvantages such children face, as those excluded are four times more likely to grow up in poverty and twice as likely to be living in care. They are also seven times more likely to have special educational needs than those who are not excluded, the report claims.

Vermont: Grant to help at-risk youth with work skills

For over 30 years, the Sunrise Family Resource Center has been working to transform the lives of local "at risk" youth by providing educational and vocational programs, community support, and real world experience. This year, Sunrise has been awarded a Summer Employment Opportunity (SEO) Grant by the Vermont Department of Labor for the 11th time in pursuance of that goal. "They come into our program and receive work experience, for which they are paid through the grant from the Vermont Department of Labor," said Amelia Silver, development director for Sunrise. "They work in the morning and get pre-vocational skills, and then the academic part of the program is in the afternoon." The SEO is a six-week work experience and education program for out of school youth who are aging out of foster care, are pregnant or parenting, or meet other criteria established by the Department of Labor. Sunrise's program, Opportunities to Work, is built upon resources from three Sunrise services: Opportunities, a teen parent education/work experience program; Job Club, a work readiness program; and the Youth Development Program (YDP), a program for youth transitioning out of foster care.,514249

BC:Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy takes on difficult child and family cabinet post

Katrine Conroy, a power engineer and former early childhood educator representing Kootenay West, will take the challenging helm of the Ministry of Children and Family Development in B.C.’s new NDP government. Conroy served three terms as MLA before being re-elected in May. Advocates lobbied the Liberal government for years to invest more into child protection services, and that intensified following a series of high-profile deaths of young people just before or after they aged out of care. The NDP, with support from the Greens, have promised to “enhance and improve child protection services,” and have vowed to create a poverty reduction strategy that addresses homelessness. Advocates will now be looking for significant change from this new government. Bernard Richard, B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth, said Conroy would “have her work cut out for her” in a ministry with important responsibilities. Her portfolio covers matters that are often tragic and the work can carry a high emotional load, he said. 

USA: Innovative affordable housing design for homeless youth

An affordable housing property is getting some national attention for its innovative design. The Marion West is a mixed-use affordable housing property in the University District that won two Gold Nugget Grand Awards at the 2017 Pacific Coast Builders Conference, including “Residential Housing Project of the Year”. The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) and Runberg Architecture Group collected the awards in San Diego. The Marion West’s 2nd floor is dedicated to 20 units of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless youths. This means they are given some wraparound services like an on-site case worker. Residents pay whatever 30% of their income is. The nonprofit YouthCare runs the floor. The 3rd and 4th floors are 29 units of workforce housing. Units cost residents $640 per month, according to Sharon Lee of LIHI. The 7,400 square foot rooftop has an urban garden residents can use. The rooftop also has downtown Seattle skyline views. Downstairs houses the University District Food Bank. Some of the rooftop garden provides fresh produce for the food bank. Also downstairs, Street Bean Coffee is an apprentice program for formerly homeless youth. The building cost $15 million for the land purchase and construction, said Lee. “Really it’s about the culmination of all those uses put together that create this synergy of this space,” said Brian Runberg, principal at Runberg Architecture Group.



UK: Government 'denying sexually abused children compensation'

Sexually abused children as young as 12 are being denied compensation by a government agency on the grounds that they gave consent, according to a coalition of charities. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has refused payments to almost 700 child victims even if their attackers have been jailed, freedom of information requests have revealed. Five charities – Barnardo’s, Victim Support, Liberty, Rape Crisis and the National Working Group (NWG) – have written to the justice secretary, David Lidington, demanding he reviews CICA guidelines. It is illegal to have sexual activity with anyone under 16 but CICA does not automatically make payments to all victims. In some cases, the charities allege, individuals have been told they consented to the abuse. The coalition is calling for the rules to be changed so that “no child groomed and manipulated into sexual abuse is denied compensation because they complied with their abuse through fear, lack of understanding, or being brainwashed into believing their abuser loved them and developing feelings for them”.

Cape Town: A 'mountain of books' for Mandela Day

More than 1 000 books were collected as part of Community Chest's Mandela Day Book Mountain drive on Tuesday morning. As part of the organisation's 67 Minutes for Madiba, it carried out a book drive which will benefit children in underprivileged communities. Community Chest CEO Lorenzo Davids said the initiative was about more than just handing over books to schools and child and youth care centres. "We hope with this goes with the entire concept of growing in knowledge and understanding about the world in which we live in and to make a change to it," Davids said. Epilepsy SA, FNB, Afrizan Personnel, the Parow Senior Centre and the Cape Heritage Hotel, were among those who made generous contributions. The books will be donated to preschools in Ashton and Mfuleni and to a school in Khayelitsha. It was not yet clear how many books in total were donated as part of the drive, with the final count only expected to be concluded by noon on Wednesday. Community Chest hoped to reach as many schools as it could. At noon on Tuesday a minute's silence was also observed with supporters joining hands symbolising the need for the nation to pause and reflect about what it needs.

Troup County juvenile court starts family dependency treatment court

There has been a surge recently, across the U.S., in the number of children entering the foster care system after years of a decline. In Georgia, the number of children in foster care has doubled over the last three years. Substance abuse is a factor in more than half of the cases where a child is removed from a home. In Troup County, over the last 18 months, the percentage of removals related to parental substance abuse rose from 39 percent to 56 percent. In many other cases other reasons are assigned for the removal, but parental substance abuse is found to be a significant underlying cause of the removal. These children enter foster care through no fault of their own, still love their parents despite their substance abuse issues, and want to return home as quickly as possible. Determined to improve the outcomes and provide hope to these children, families and our community, Judge R. Michael Key and the Troup County Juvenile Court successfully sought funds through a state grant, to establish a Family Dependency Treatment Court (FDTC). Troup County parents who have lost custody of their children because of drug addiction will now have a new option to receive intensive treatment and reunite with their children more quickly. And, importantly, experience shows, the reunification of the family is more sustainable over time when compared to the outcomes in regular dependency court.

Australia: Religious leaders come together to discuss domestic and family violence

Religious leaders from across New South Wales will today join Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward to discuss how they can work with their communities to tackle domestic and family violence. The inaugural Interfaith Roundtable will be held this morning at Parliament House to consider the important role religious leaders can play in reducing violence in the home, and helping to create safer communities. NSW State Coroner Michael Barnes will also attend the Interfaith Roundtable, which was a recommendation of the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team. “We will be seeking the views of faith leaders as to what role they feel they can play in the identification, prevention and response to domestic and family violence,” Ms Goward said. “The NSW Government is leading the nation in tackling domestic and family violence, but addressing this scourge in our community is not something we can do alone. “Religious leaders are often the pillar of their community and are uniquely placed to identify, respond to, and ultimately prevent instances of domestic and family violence.” The Roundtable is part of the State Government’s ongoing commitment to eliminate domestic and family violence as outlined in the Domestic and Family Violence Blueprint for Reform 2016-2021.



UK: DfE-funded care initiative 'provides low-cost support for vulnerable families'

A government-funded social care initiative originally developed in Chicago has the potential to support vulnerable families in the UK at low cost and reduce the number of children coming into care, an evaluation report has found. Safe Families For Children UK, which has previously received £2m from the Department for Education's innovation fund, sees volunteers provide respite support, friendship, and mentoring to families in crisis. The charity operates in 31 local authorities and has supported 1,425 families since it launched in the UK in 2013, but there are plans to extend it to all councils. An evaluation report into the initiative found that early evidence suggests it has "the potential to support many vulnerable families at low cost including a significant proportion of those children that were on the edge of the care system". It also found that the scheme has the potential to reduce the flow of children into foster and residential care. In the six months following the evaluation, which took place between January 2015 and March 2016, no children in families that were supported entered care. In comparison, two children from a control group were taken into care, and another was placed under a special guardianship order.

Age checks to be introduced on porn websites in UK

The first steps in forcing pornography websites to check that users are over 18 will be be announced by the government this week in an effort to make the internet safer for children. Websites flouting new rules, which are set to be part of the Digital Economy Act, could find that a regulator has told their internet service providers to block access to them. Those who provide payment and other services to such sites could also be asked to impose restrictions. Porn site users will have to provide details from a credit card, which cannot be legally issued to anyone under 18, according to the Mail on Sunday. Gambling websites use the same system of verification. The government is also expected to announce plans to appoint a regulator to police the sex websites. It is believed this could be the British Board of Film Classification – which sets age limits on films, DVDs and video games. The aim is for all online pornography to have age verification controls by April 2018 along with the appointment of a new regulatory body to oversee and enforce it, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said.

Bullying and violence remains 'massive' problem in schools, warns Human Rights Commission

New Zealand still has a ''massive'' problem with violence and bullying in schools, and not enough is being done to tackle the issue, the Human Rights Commission says. Chief Commissioner David Rutherford made the blunt assessment during a keynote speech at the New Zealand School Trustees Association's annual conference at the Regent Theatre in Dunedin yesterday. The three-day conference has drawn 1000 school trustees to the city from schools throughout New Zealand. Rutherford told the audience the Government was already on notice from the United Nations, which in 2012 expressed concern at ''widespread'' violence and bullying in New Zealand's schools. And earlier this year, the UN ''put the New Zealand Government on notice'' it wanted an assessment next year on how effective the Government had been in tackling the problem. Unless rapid progress was made, it was an assessment the Government would likely fail, he predicted. Across New Zealand, 20 per cent of children faced bullying in schools - a figure that was fairly static, and was twice the 10 per cent average for all countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), he said. It was a fundamental human right for children to be safe in school, ''and the plain fact is children in New Zealand are not as safe as they should be'', Rutherford said.

Progress made, but there’s more to do for Texas children

In his January State of the State address, Gov. Greg Abbott elevated the reform of the child protection system as his No. 1 emergency item. This occurred against the backdrop of U.S. District Judge Janice Graham Jack's 2015 ruling that Texas’ foster care system violated children’s constitutional right to be “free from an unreasonable risk of harm.” Media scrutiny also revealed major problems with Child protective Services, such as children sleeping in hotels and CPS offices due to placement shortages. As a result of new legislation and additional appropriations, substantive changes championed by Texas CASA and other child advocates were enacted, including measures to consolidate all investigations under CPS regardless of whether children live in foster care facilities or with families; increase foster care and kinship capacity; increase caseworker pay and lower caseloads; and enact structural changes to the Department of Family and Protective Services to help it operate with more flexibility, and ensure all reports of abuse and neglect are investigated in a thorough, consistent and timely manner. By session’s end, significant reforms reached the governor’s desk, including a $508.5 million funding increase for DFPS. This substantial increase comes during an otherwise austere budget cycle – highlighting how dedicated the Legislature was to making child welfare reform a priority.



Signs of Safety 'not a magic bullet' for child protection

A much-heralded social work model being tested by 10 English councils is delivering positive results but is "not a magic bullet" for the child protection system, a study has found. An evaluation of the strengths-based Signs of Safety approach to child protection found it had improved social work practice in the pilot authorities but warned that the gains could be lost by restructures and staff turnover. Signs of Safety is designed to integrate professional and family knowledge in the assessment of risk and any subsequent planning. It is based on honest relationships between the worker and families and between all professionals involved to achieve a shared understanding of what needs to change, and critical thinking to minimise error and create a culture of reflective practice. Researchers from King's College London found that Signs of Safety is "workable" where authorities make the necessary commitment of trust in their staff at all levels, backed up by resources and time. "Our conclusion is that, while SoS is not a magic bullet for the challenges that face children's social care, it has the potential to help improve services for children and young people," the report states.

UK: Small-town children at risk of exploitation by criminal gangs, say MPs

Vulnerable children in provincial areas and small towns – including those from middle-class families – are at risk of exploitation and grooming by criminal gangs seeking to extend their reach beyond major cities, according to a new report compiled by MPs. The report by the all-party parliamentary group on missing children heard evidence from parents of children as young as eight who had been groomed for “criminal exploitation”. One mother, who described herself as middle class, told the MPs: “My son became involved in a gang where he was exploited to sell class A drugs at the age of 14 in 2012. I didn’t know what to do or who to call.” “Young people who are groomed into drug running by adults are being exploited in the same way as those who are enticed into sexual activity. They too are vulnerable and need our support,” said Ann Coffey, the Labour MP for Stockport who chairs the all-party parliamentary group (APPG). “Children from all backgrounds can be affected. We need a greater understanding and awareness of this kind of criminal exploitation of children and better training to ensure it is recognised and prevented at an early stage.”

Break The Silence: School principal Jo Hutt proud to speak up on youth suicide

Principals from across New Zealand have contacted Kamo High School head Jo Hutt to congratulate her for having the courage to break the silence on student suicide. Hutt has featured in two major investigations into youth suicide as part of the New Zealand Herald's Break the Silence series. She is the principal of Kamo High, a secondary school in Whangarei that was "absolutely rocked to the core" after three teen suicides in 2012. Two of the students who took their own lives, Colin Taipari-Herewini and Mia Dunn, were from the same Kamo High classroom: 10LW. Their deaths marked the start of an unprecedented youth suicide cluster in Northland that claimed the lives of 19 young people in 2012. While it's a good start to raise awareness about the high rates of youth suicide in New Zealand, Hutt said it was even more important to start a conversation about how we might change things. "What are we doing right now to reduce the possibility of it happening again?" she asked.

New award to honor those who work with transition-age foster youth

Last week, the Aging Out Institute (AOI) announced a new award designed to recognize individuals who are helping foster youth to succeed when they leave foster care. AOI introduced the eight judges for its inaugural AOI Best Practice Awards, including several prominent researchers and leaders of organizations dedicated to helping this population. “It is important for [foster youth] to realize that there are, indeed, people who care about them, that there are people who want to help them,” said John DeGarmo, one of the judges. According to a 2013 report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, aging out of foster care can be challenging for many youth. Often lacking basic knowledge, resources and support, foster youth are at a huge disadvantage when attempting to transition to adulthood. Of the nation’s 23,000 young adults who leave foster care at 18 or 21 years old, more than a fifth become homeless, and by age 24, only half will be employed, the report said. AOI, a web-based social enterprise, aims to connect those involved in the foster care system with resources to ease the transition into living independently. In building a collection of award-winning strategies over time, AOI aims to become a central resource to help those starting new foster care programs and the foster care community as a whole.

Singapore: 4 more group homes to be set up for vulnerable children

 Recognising that some children in residential homes may have greater needs and more challenging behaviour, the authorities are setting up four more group homes that will have a smaller care ratio and staff who have gone through intensive training. The new homes will cater to children who have gone through especially traumatic experiences and now require more structured and targeted care, said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin in his speech at a conference on rehabilitation and protection care on Thursday (July 13). As of May, there were 1,100 vulnerable children and young people placed in out-of-home care here – 630 resided in homes while the rest were placed in foster care. The Government is also investing $7 million over four years in training those who care for these children. Said Mr Tan: "Through partnering the Social Service Institute, MSF has developed a training framework for the residential care sector. This maps out the professional development for all residential staff, from care staff to management level." The Training Framework for Residential Care was introduced in January last year. Under this, new residential staff would have to undergo a core training programme within the first year of work. They will learn about the impact of abuse and neglect, how trauma can impact a child's development and the roles of residential staff in addressing the behaviours of the child.



UK: Babies at risk of 'adoption by stealth', family charity warns

Babies whose mothers have voluntarily agreed to them being temporarily looked after by the state are at risk of “adoption by stealth”, a leading family support charity has warned. According to a freedom of information request by the Family Rights Group, 127 babies under six months old – 111 of them under six weeks old – have been placed with foster carers who are already approved as suitable adopters since fostering for adoption legislation came into force three years ago. It is not clear how many have been permanently adopted. Previously, under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, the assumption was that parents who voluntarily gave up their children to foster care could immediately reclaim them if they chose to do so. But the addition of the fostering for adoption legislation means that in some cases parents who may not fully understand the consequences of their decisions could find the fostering arrangement turned into permanent adoption against their will. Under the fostering for adoption system, the babies’ mothers typically have no right to free legal advice to enable them to grasp that they can very easily lose their children forever.

The impact of US opioid epidemic on foster care and social services

The epidemic of opioid addiction in the US, which has reached never before seen heights in the past two years, has put an immense strain on the already resource-starved US health care system. Among the most devastating consequences of this crisis has been the thousands of children who lose their parents to addiction every day. These children have flooded the foster care system, and their cases have exhausted social services. According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2012, 397,000 U.S. children were in foster care. By 2015, that number had risen 8 percent, to 428,000. There is no concrete data yet for 2016; however, experts predict that the past two years – the height of the opioid epidemic so far – has increased that number dramatically. A recent study published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that in 14 states the number of foster kids rose by more than a quarter between 2011 and 2015. States that are experiencing a massive influx of children into protective custody all face similar problems, with varying degrees of severity. None are equipped with the resources to adequately deal with the crisis. Three of the hardest hit states have been Maine, Florida, and Ohio.
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New Zealand: $50m to support at-risk young people into work

Prime Minister Bill English has announced a new investment of $50 million to help the most at-risk young people in regional New Zealand into jobs. A total of $42 million over four years will be allocated from Budget 2017 to fund locally-designed projects in four regions with the highest proportion of young people at risk of long-term unemployment. A further $8 million will also be invested in initiatives aimed specifically at giving young Maori the skills and tools they need to find work. “Regional economies across New Zealand are growing strongly and have thousands of jobs to be filled,” Mr English says. “There hasn’t been a better opportunity in decades to match unemployed young people with real, sustainable jobs in our regions.” The Youth Employment Pathways programme will work intensively with the 5280 most at-risk unemployed young people in Hawke’s Bay, Northland, the Eastern Bay of Plenty and East Coast.

UK: Your guide to children's policy briefs in the new government

Following last month's government reshuffle, ministerial responsibilities relating to the children and young people's sector have been finalised. A government reshuffle took place following June's snap general election. Among a number of changes, Edward Timpson, who lost his Crewe and Nantwich seat, is replaced as children's minister by former immigration minister Robert Goodwill, who is also handed responsibility for early years. Download the full ministers guide as a PDF.



New podcast series advocates for foster youth

The Foster Movement Podcast, produced by the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), brings awareness to the difficulties associated with life in the foster care system, thanks to a revolving set of guests involved with care and hosts Jason Weber and Diego Fuller. Posted on a monthly basis, the podcast features the stories of various individuals involved with the foster care system, such as former foster youth or community advocates. Shedding light on the difficulty youth have in forging positive, long-standing relationships is not the only issue that the podcast tackles. Now at three episodes, the Foster Movement Podcast has also addressed ways to reform the foster care system and key factors regarding relationships between foster youth and their biological families. For example, in a recent episode, foster or adoptive parents are advised on how to best handle relationships between their foster child and his or her biological family. “We want to see more people engaged in a variety of ways in the foster care system, and we want to see those that are engaged consistently growing in their ability to do it well,” Weber said.

UK: Spielman open to change on 'requires improvement' judgment rating

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has indicated the grade of "requires improvement" could be changed under the new inspection system for children's services. Addressing delegates at the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) annual conference in Manchester, Spielman said she is "not wedded" to the controversial grading under the single inspection framework, which replaced the "adequate" rating from the previous inspection regime. Children's services departments that receive a requires improvement grade often come in for criticism from local and national politicians and media. Directors of children's services argue that the rating gives the impression of a struggling department rather than emphasising that they are delivering services satisfactorily. The new, lighter-touch inspection system, which is set to start in early 2018, is to retain the four-tier graded judgments, but Ofsted has yet to say what these are. Spielman also said the new inspection framework, which has been piloted with a handful of councils this year, will place greater emphasis on how leaders "allow good social work to flourish".

Texas: County Board OKs funding for high-risk youth

The Midland County Probate and Family Court has been victimized. Not in a bad way, but by its own success. A trial program that began two years ago has been so successful that it is now being implemented permanently. However, that success has resulted in the need for additional funding of about $190,000. "Since it was a pilot program, we were trying to see if it would work or not. And we have found that it works very, very well," Midland County Probate Court Judge Dorene S. Allen said. Two years ago, due to a lack of a successful out-of-county residential treatment for youth, the Probate Court instituted a pilot program that would provide help for the highest risk youth. The initial phase of the program would have the youth placed in the local detention center. That placement would be followed by a transition into licensed treatment foster care homes. "The last two years, we've had kids come back from residential because we haven't found the residential treatments to be as effective as what we are able to do here in the community and the local treatment," Allen said. Included in the new Enhanced Services Program would be both the Detention Transition Program and Treatment Foster Care. After receiving unanimous approval from the Midland County Board of Commissioners, the new program began on July 1. "These are the kids that would be going to residential care. They will now be staying in Midland County instead of shipping them out to another residential placement," Allen said. "We need to use the model that is the best for the kids not committing additional crimes and it is this."

Break the silence: Auckland school faces suicide front-on to make a "real difference"

Every Thursday, in a small classroom at one south Auckland school, mental health professionals and teachers unite to save lives. They sit around the same table and slowly go through a list of at-risk students, together. The teachers, counsellors and social workers at Aorere College talk about their students' backgrounds, problems and current moods; the mental health experts listen and provide advice. Those involved say this simple weekly meeting initiative should be rolled out to every secondary school across the country. "They advise us on how we should be approaching the situation and which students need to be referred on for professional help," said Tom Brown, Aorere College student services director."It's really useful for us to have this direct contact, because otherwise we are all just working in isolation," Brown said. "This definitely should be rolled out to all schools."

Snapchat Snap Map: Parents warned about steps they can take to protect children's privacy

Snapchat’s controversial new feature allows other people to see exactly where you are in real time, and parents are being advised to take steps to protect their children’s privacy. Snap Map uses data such as your location, speed of travel and phone usage to work out where you are and what you’re doing, and shares this information with your friends on an interactive map. The map, which you can launch by pinching the Snapchat camera home screen, is precise enough to show not only what street you’re on, but also whereabouts on that street you are. Parents are being urged to read up on it, and to ensure their children are aware of the risks that can come with sharing too much information through social media.



'It's a way of moving forward': Innu leaders praise announcement of inquiry into children in care

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Aboriginal leaders have agreed that an inquiry will be held into the treatment of Innu children in the child protection system. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was reached during a four-hour meeting in St. John's on Wednesday, Premier Dwight Ball said. The announcement follows an investigative series by CBC News in June about suicides, addiction and being uprooted in the Labrador community of Natuashish. In a news release Thursday, the province said it hopes the inquiry terms of reference will be set by July 31 and that the person or body to lead the inquiry should also be announced by that date. The goal is to have the inquiry started by September 30. "I want to get to the root problem of why it is Indigenous youth in our province right now are having disproportionate numbers receiving care outside of their communities, why suicide rates are extremely high, are staggering numbers," said Ball. "This is about preventing children and youth from going into care and making sure we have those wrap-around services within Innu communities that are culturally appropriate." Anastasia Qupee, grand chief of the Innu Nation, said it has been "a long road" pressuring government to listen to concerns that children sent away from Labrador find it hard to reintegrate. "It's a start for government to work with us," Qupee said.

UK: Children's social workers strike over 'poor pay and bullying'

Children's social workers at a council rated as "inadequate" by Ofsted last year have begun a 48-hour strike, saying they are unhappy with pay, heavy workloads and bullying. The walkout by social workers at Kirklees Council has been organised by Unison, which has urged all members of the union at the local authority to show their support for the dispute. Unison said the industrial action is being taken due to poor pay and a doubling of workloads for social workers over the last five years. It said conditions have resulted in high levels of stress for staff, an increase in vacancies and a reliance on agency workers. It also cited bullying as an issue. According to the union, social workers are quitting the council and then being rehired as agency workers for more than £10,000 a year more. It claims that 10 agency social workers were recently paid £498,000 for a six-month contract. "Members have had enough. Enough of bullying, enough of stress, enough of vacancies, enough of poor pay, enough of agency staff and enough of austerity," said Paul Holmes, Kirklees Unison branch secretary.

New Zealand passes legislation on child-centered care, protection

New Zealand's major reform to its care and protection system reached a key milestone on Thursday with the passage of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Legislation Bill, said a senior official. "I am proud to see the passing of this critical legislation which will provide the foundations for a child-centered care and protection system," Anne Tolley, minister for children and youth, said in a release. This is the second significant step in the country's major reform program which will improve the outcomes for vulnerable children and young people, part of a four-to-five-year major transformation program, she said. It supports the new operating model of the ministry for vulnerable children, which is focused on harm and trauma prevention, early intervention, quality care, and support to independence, Tolley said. The legislation, which will come into force by July 1, 2019, will better ensure children and young people are at the center of decision-making, while considering them within the context of their family and communities. It allows young people in care to remain or return to living with a caregiver until the age of 21, with transition support available up to age 25, and it strengthens information sharing provisions to help keep vulnerable children and young people safe from harm or make arrangements for their well-being. The legislation also extends the youth justice system to include most 17-year-olds, excluding those charged with specified serious offences.

LA's new juvenile probation facility rejects 'boot camp' approach

The first group of kids arrived Monday at a new juvenile probation camp designed to signal a dramatic shift in the way Los Angeles County handles kids who get into trouble. The facility is located in the hills above Malibu where the juvenile detention center Camp Kilpatrick once sat. But it’s now called Campus Kilpatrick, an effort to emphasize a school-like atmosphere where the focus is on learning and rehabilitation. Kids will be housed in eight-person cottages, each with its own showers, recreation area and counselors, said Kerri Webb, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County Probation Department. "It fosters a more productive, family-type environment instead of the major dormitories where you’re stacking kids," she said. The facility marks a departure from the department’s "boot camp" approach, which requires kids to wear prison-like uniforms with no individuality to them. At Kilpatrick, the young people can wear their own clothes. That’s significant, say child advocates. "The research shows that young people, when they are removed from the community and return, adjust better when they maintain as much of their individual identity, their connection to their community, and resemblance to where they are from as possible," said Patricia Soung, an attorney with the Los Angeles chapter of the Children’s Defense Fund. "I think it’s also an indication of treating them with a level of dignity and respect," she added. Soung was among dozens of advocates consulted by the probation department when it designed the new camp.

UK: Increase in number of child victims of FGM

New figures show that 139 children have been identified by health professionals as victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) over the last year, an increase on the previous 12 months. Statistics published by the NHS show that, of newly recorded cases of FGM between April 2016 and March 2017, 114 were children under the age of 16, and 25 were aged 16 to 17. This is an increase of 31 per cent on the previous year's figure, when there were 106 newly recorded FGM cases involving under-18s. In total there were 5,391 newly reported cases of FGM between April 2016 and March 2017. Although 31 is the average age of first attendance by a victim, the illegal practice was carried out before the victim was 18 in 95 per cent of cases. Children's charity NSPCC said health services are getting better at reporting FGM but suggested that the number of victims who are under 18 is likely to be far higher, pointing to the fact that its helpline receives calls daily with concerns about or from girls at risk of FGM or who have already been subject to the practice. "Once more, these figures highlight that FGM continues to affect hundreds of girls and women living in communities across England," said an NPSCC spokeswoman.



New Alberta report: 26 young people receiving intervention services died in one-year period

In its 2016-17 annual report, the Children’s Services department reported 26 young people died while receiving services. Eight of those were in care while 16 were not in care, but were receiving services. Two of the youths were over 18, but were still receiving support. The manner of death for 14 young people has yet to be determined by the chief medical examiner, the report said. Three deaths were accidental, one was determined to be medical, and two were suicides. The report states that the remaining six children died in hospital and that the attending physicians determined the cause of death was natural, hence a review by a medical examiner was not required. The report gives no information about the specific causes of death. Alberta child and youth advocate Del Graff said he hopes the Children’s Services ministry will adopt a more robust internal review process, as well as pay more heed to external recommendations, including those made by his office. “If we want to find ways to prevent child deaths, we’ve got to review the circumstances of those deaths and try to learn from it for future prevention,” Graff said Tuesday. The report tracked data from April 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017.

Australia: Queensland introduces minimum qualifications for youth residential workers

Queensland's residential homes for children in care are set for a shake up with the State Government requiring all workers to have formal qualifications within two years. The state's service providers have welcomed the move, but warned some organisations would struggle to meet the deadline. In Queensland, 9,000 children are in care and 7.5 per cent of them live in youth residential homes, cared for by paid workers. Until now there have been no minimum qualifications, but in 2013 the Carmody Inquiry recommended training for residential workers. From July next year, residential workers will have to study for at least a Certificate IV qualification and have achieved it by the end of 2019. Miriel, now 19, spent much of her childhood in a youth residential home, staffed with paid workers. While most workers receive training from providers, Miriel said in her home some staff were simply "lost". "To throw in someone who has not had training in mental health and all these other areas is quite traumatising for the person and the child as well," Miriel said. Miriel is now studying to be a social worker and has advocated for changes to the child protection system. She said it was a welcome sign that the voices of those most affected had been heard. Queensland Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said the Government would provide support and consider extensions if there were problems.

South Africa: A conference to discuss solutions to violent acts against children

Child and Youth Care practitioners who have dedicated their lives to the protection of children at risk, have gathered at the opening of a three day conference hosted by the National Association of Youth Care Workers. The conference is aimed at discussing solutions to the growing statistics of violent acts committed against children in the country. One of the solutions discussed was the expansion of the Isibindi model. There are almost 300 Isibindi projects across all South African Provinces, which serve abused and neglected children who would otherwise have fallen outside of the child care and protection system.

New Zealand: Women’s Refuge appeal focuses on their smaller clients

With over 40,000 women and children referred to Women’s Refuge last year, just under half of those referrals were for children. This year the Women’s Refuge Annual appeal focuses on raising money to help kids in Aotearoa lead lives free from violence. The nationwide campaign is targeted at raising funds to go towards meeting the costs for services that Refuge provides for children across the country. “We know that the impact of exposure to family violence is devastating for children; with some kids saying that witnessing family violence is more distressing than being the direct victims of violence by adults,” says Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury. “Living with violence creates a sense of constant anxiety and stress, and this stress can damage if it’s too much or lasts too long; when these tiny minds are exposed to severe, frequent, or ongoing stressful situations it can lead to an over sensitive stress response. We can help them heal from this by providing one on one advocacy, programmes and workshops, groups – channels where kids can talk about their experiences in a safe and healing space.” Disturbingly, recent Refuge statistics indicate that the demand for refuge services for children will increase over the next 4-5 years; they will need more child advocates, and more money to help fund the critical work they do to reduce the trauma of children’s experiences, and break the cycle of violence.



UK: One in four mums with children placed for adoption grew up in care, finds study

One in four mothers and a fifth of fathers of children placed for adoption grew up in state care, a study has found. Researchers at Cardiff University’s Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre said there was an “urgent need” to review parenting support for care leavers after their analysis found 27% of birth mothers and 19% of birth fathers of children placed for adoption were themselves care leavers. In a paper published in the Children and Youth Services Review, lead study author Louise Roberts said the research did not aim to debate the merits of adoption or the circumstances in which it was appropriate, but the findings raised important issues for social care. “It would appear there were missed opportunities whilst in state care and/or during the process of leaving care, to positively influence the trajectories of these individuals. The outcomes for care leavers in this study suggest that state care was ineffective in supporting young people to overcome difficulties or to help break cycles of family separation,” she wrote. Roberts added: “We argue that there is a moral imperative to seek to address these poor outcomes for care leaver parents and an urgent need to review how children and young people in state care are both prepared for future parenthood and supported as parents.”

California’s travel ban targets three states over child welfare laws

California will prohibit state-funded or state-sponsored travel to four states have passed legislative bills deemed discriminatory against the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) community, California’s attorney general announced on Thursday. Three of those four states – Texas, Alabama and South Dakota – have recently passed laws that could prevent LGBTQ couples from fostering or adopting children in the child welfare system. The other state, Kentucky, enacted legislation that allows student-run organizations in colleges and K-12 schools to bar LGBTQ students from joining. Becerra’s decision is based on a law passed last year by the California legislature, Assembly Bill 1887, which “prohibits state-funded and state-sponsored travel to states with laws that authorize or require discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression or against same-sex couples or their families,” according to a press release issued by Becerra’s office. California had already barred state employees from traveling to Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee based on this law. Thursday’s ruling doubles the size of the California’s no-state-travel list.

Missouri: Foster care Bill of Rights is now a law

There are thousands of kids in Missouri who have been taken out of their homes and are waiting to find out where they’ll end up. Now, those foster children have a new set of rights. The Foster Care Bill of Rights became a law on Thursday. We talked with people who know the foster care system here in Springfield about why that’s going to help the kids work through a traumatic time. “I think it’s a good step in the right direction,” said Stephanie Daniels. She says she has fostered five children, and she adopted two of them. “They’ve obviously come into care because of some pretty bad times, and when we get to be part of a happy ending, that’s great,” said Daniels. She says the Foster Care Bill of Rights is important because it makes sure the children's best interests are prioritized. Under the law, the children’s division is required to try and reunite the children with their parents when it’s appropriate, or try to find a relative for the child to live with. Danielle Conti, Executive Director of Foster Adopt Connect in Springfield, said, “The truth is that it’s incredibly traumatic for these kids to be in abusive and neglectful situations. But it is equally traumatic for them to be taken out of those situations, and away from their family.” Conti says their organization has been working hard to make sure this bill became a law.

UK: Damning report reveals high levels of violence at Feltham YOI

Conditions at Feltham Young Offender Institution (YOI) have been criticised by inspectors with concerns raised over high levels of violence and young people being locked in their cells for too long. Feltham A held 126 15- to 18-year-olds at the time of inspection. Picture: Phil Adams A report by the Prisons Inspectorate found that levels of violence and the use of force at Feltham A, which held 126 15- to 18-year-olds at the time of the inspection, had increased since the last inspection in August 2015, with some of the violence deemed to be "very serious", including multiple assailants and the use of weapons. Inspectors said the response in terms of behaviour management was "ineffective", with a focus on sanctions and regime restrictions. Meanwhile, time out of cell was "inadequate" and boys were prevented from using basic amenities, including showers and telephones. The restricted regime that was in place meant 40 per cent of the boys were locked up during the school day, while 30 per cent were out of their cells for just two hours each day. Inspectors also found that despite sufficient school places and teachers, fewer than half the boys were getting to classes. Youth justice campaigners have called for urgent action on the findings.


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