Social theory, social change in health and social care




The aim of this essay is to explore the background of Every child matters and its relationship and Applications to the physical abuse of children, relationship and application towards children services in context with social change, Critical analysis of legislative policies and changes in relation to Every Child Matters, Critical analysis of Every Child matter its aims, objectives and Applications of feminist theory on every child matter.

First of all this essay will highlight the emergence of Every child Matters in context with children abuse and will present a picture relating to the abuse and deaths of children, inquiry report that resulted Every Child Matters.

There are different kinds of physical abuse such as shaking, kicking and punching , also any pain or injury to a child is classified as an abuse. Any harmful substance such as alcohol or poison given by parents or carers that results in illness is also consider as an abuse.(NSPCC, 2009)

Neglect, physical injury, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and grave concern are five categories of child abuse.(Varma, 1997)

Wilson & James (2002) cited (Hallett & Birchall, 1992) that up until the mid1980s, the 30 plus inquires had all been linked with the deaths of children at the hands of their parents or carers. As a result of physical abuse or neglect all the children had died and had often suffered emotional abuse and failure to thrive. The child care professionals, especially social workers, failed to protect the children from terrible consequences. The deaths were viewed as particular instances and brought about some changes in the policy, practice, knowledge and skills and the way system operated and interrelated. (Wilson & James, 2002)

“It is difficult to predict the chances of family violence as some people in the family resort to violence inconsistently while others may do so consistently but only under extreme stress. However, studies on the causes of family violence have identified factors that are usually present when aggressive incidents and violent interactions occur”. (Brown & Herbert, 1997, pp.19-20)

Laming(2003) has described in his report Victoria as a black child born on the Ivory coast and given into the care of her auntie by her parents for better life in UK. In 1999 she arrived from Paris in the UK. First she stayed in Acton and later moved to Harlesden. By May 1999 there was evidence to suggest Victoria was already suffering from neglect. Within two months of arrival other people noticed injuries on Victoria. Later on one of her auntie friend rang social service twice. However, Victoria’s first visit to hospital occurred when she visited to the Middlesex central Hospital on the 14TH of July where she was seen for injuries which were later described to be non accidental. She was referred to a pediatric register who recorded that Victoria had numerous injuries, Brent Social services were informed and she was discharge; a week later she was taken back to the same hospital where she spent 13 nights in the pediatric ward. On her third visit to hospital on February25th 2000 Victoria was declared dead at the age of eight years and three months. (Laming, 2003)

Maguire (2009) says that Lord Laming was given great autonomy in shaping the nature of the inquiry and decided early on it should be public inquiry. However, the inquiry report was published in January 2003 and consisted of over 400 pages and made 108 recommendations for changes to the system for safeguarding children.(Maguire, 2009)

Wilson & James (2007) noted that The Green Paper was obviously a response to the Laming Report and basically was linked with inquiry report into death of Victoria Climbie as represented by the media. (Wilson & James, 2007)

Lonne et al (2009) says due to the tragic death of Victoria Climbie in London in 2000 policy and practice have been changed. (Lonne et al, 2009).

“The political momentum for the changes being introduced in England was considerably strengthened by the government being seen to be actively responding to the public inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie, the government also took the opportunity to introduce wide-ranging and radical reform which was only tangentially concerned with responding to child abuse”.( Wilson & James ,2007:9)

Labour published a consultation paper, known in the UK as Green Paper, given the title ‘Every child matters’ (HM Government, 2003) in coincidence with the government’s response to the inquiry report into the death of Victoria Climbie, a young girl murdered after a prolonged period of abuse. The purpose of The Green Paper was based on four important facts increase focus on supporting families and carers who has the most crucial control on children’s lives, to make sure that essential intervention takes place before children reach crisis point and protecting children from falling into a victim, to deal with the original issues identified in the report into the death of Victoria Climbie such as weak responsibility and poor integration , to make sure that the people working with children are respected, better paid and skilled.(Dowler & Spencer, 2007)

Critical analysis of legislative policies and changes in relation to Every Child Matters:

This essay will look into the legislative policies and changes in child protection in the light of social change theory. For this purpose the essay will look into the history of changes in legislative policies in child protection in context with Every Child Matters.

Butler& Drakefield (2003) says that The 1989 Children Act brought together most of the law relating to child protection In England and Wales in a single piece of legislation (Butler& Drakefield, 2003)

Maguire (2009) says that children Act 1989 introduced the welfare and principles in improving and developing the child protection system. (Maguire, 2009)

Although, few main points of The Children Act 1989 makes clear that the child’s welfare should be the supreme reflection in all court proceedings. However, Safety of children is ongoing issue that makes the government to think, revise and improve policies and legislation such as improvement of children Act 1989. Safeguarding is a relatively new term which is broader than ‘child protection’ as it also includes prevention. (Safeguarding Children, 2009).

The 1989 Children Act has been seen as partly improved the position of children in society, due to the lack of sufficient resources for the services that deal with children to enable all its aims to be achieved, for example, continuing delays in court proceedings have undermined the meeting of children’s and families needs in many cases. As will be seen later, the 2004 Children Act has further developed legislation in respect of children, especially for their protection i.e. the safeguarding of their welfare (Barker, 2009)

Wilson & James (2007) cited (Thorpe 1994, DoH 1995a, Parton et al.1997) that during the early 1990s, a number of studies carried out in the UK, the USA and Australia, which showed that the child welfare agencies had been dealing with remarkable increases in allegations of child abuse and neglect. However, the publication research (DOH 1995 a) summarised 20 studies and recognized that despite the intentions of the children act 1989 there had been little progress in moving towards a more needs-led approach to safe guarding children.( Wilson & James ,2007)

Every Child Matters: Change for Children provides an information how the new Children Act 2004 forms the basis of a long-term changes and give details of the implications for various services. (DfES, 2003)

There is no similarity between the children Act 2004 and the children Act 1989, it only brings in the improvement in the legislation and policies many of them recommended by Lord Laming. (Beckett, 2007)

The Green Paper encouraged a general debate about services for children, young people and families. Following consultation with people working in children’s services, with parents and young people, as subsequent result the Government published Every Child Matters: Next steps (DfES, 2004a) and passed the 2004 Children Act. However, due to political delegation, there is a range of different policy, legal and guidance documents that communicate to the changing context in which services to children are delivered in the in the four countries of the UK. (Barker, 2009)

The Children Act 2004 is the legislative backbone for the reforms supporting and focus on safeguarding children, with statutory Local Safeguarding Children Boards replacing the current Area Child Protection Committees and impose a duty on all key agencies to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in partnership with Local Authorities working with other services through children’s trust arrangements to agree local priorities for improving services for children, young people and parents and imposes responsibility on Directors of Children’s Services Local Authorities appointing who will have responsibility for education and children’s social services and designating Lead Members (Councillors) to provide vision and momentum.(DfES,2003)

Critical analysis of Every Child matter its aims, objectives:

There is a long history in the UK for changes to services to children to be triggered in part by responses to the death of a child .However, The immediate catalyst of the introduction of ECM was the response to tragic death of Victoria Climbie in 2000 (Laming, 2003), although changes in service were being planned in any event so it is not entirely accurate to say that her death ’caused’ the ECM programme. (Barker, 2009:8)

ECM was published as a Green Paper (DfES, 2003) in conjunction with the Laming Report (Laming, 2003). The government suggested that ECM was built on existing plans to support preventative services. (DfES, 2003)

Two important factors for the Every Child Matters: Change for Children programme was the Victoria Climbie Inquiry and the Joint Chief Inspectors Report on Safeguarding Children. (DFES, 2004)

Staying safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and to achieve economic well being is government four key points program for every child, regardless of their background or circumstances. However, organizations concerned with providing services for children, from hospitals and schools, to police and voluntary groups will be teaming up in latest ways of sharing information and working together, to protect children and young people from harm and help them achieve what they want in life. (DfES, 2004b)

Government in general started ECM programme and the main idea was that local needs should be met via ‘what works best’ locally. However, this idea means that different areas will be developing differently depending on local needs and local influences, such as the shifting impact and power of individuals and agencies in different areas. (Barker, 2009)

Every Child Matters: Change for Children sets out the national framework for local change program to build services around the needs of children and young people to make the most of chance and reduce risk. (DFES, 2004)

Barker & Hodes(2007) describes that it is vital that public sector workers in every service and within all agencies work together to make sure that the child is safeguarded, and the services for children and their families are well harmonized. Only possibility to protect children efficiently if all health service workers are dedicated to work jointly with other as a part of multi-agency as well as a multi disciplinary team. (Barker & Hodes, 2007)

Jowitt & O’Loughlin (2005) summarized that protection system failed for Victoria Climbie and other children in the past by many of safe guarding professionals agencies involved in working with her and her family. Furthermore, her death inquiry into her death and ors report from joint chief inspectors on safe guarding children (DOH, 2003b) made Government to change the 2004 Children Act and the Every Child Matters programmers. However, the important messages highlighted in these publications were protecting and promoting welfare of children. However, the centre of attention should only be a child and all agencies involved should work together. (Jowitt & O’Loughlin, 2005)

Basically ECM agenda was led by DfES but other department including DoH, DCMS and the Home Office were also involved. The main objective of ECM was to produce better joined up thinking and action between some of these departments, which thus has confused ECM agenda. However, there are clear indications that government has realized the importance of tackling this issue in a way by giving priority to children’s agenda and change as taken place by the reorganization of DfES into DCSF. (Barker, 2009)

A five-year programme entitled quality protect (April 1999 to March 2004) expected to improve the management and delivery of children’s social services, progress in increasing the number of adoptions. In addition, the Quality Protects programme developed a better perspective of the shared parenting role and to improve the collection and use of management information, and to make sure children and young people are better listened by councils. (DfES, 2004)

The agenda of improving services for children that is being progressed Via ECM programme is a challenging one and stresses on interagency, multi agency collaboration and multi professional approach when working in children services and it is very important for those who involved should have a clear idea about the roles of different professionals involved. (Barker, 2009)

The change required to beat the difficulties in prevention can only be delivered through local leaders working together in strong partnership with local communities on a programme of change. (DfES, 2004)

Barker(2009) cited (Hartley and Alison, 2006, p32) that ‘Innovation cannot be pre-specified and therefore part of the role of leadership is to provide a frame work and to observe , nurture, shape and reflect as well as to implement’.(Barker, 2009:193)

Practitioners use a shared assessment tool called The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) to develop a shared understanding of child needs. (DfES, 2006c)

Lonne et al(2009) notes that when the lic inquiry into the terrible death of Victoria Climbie was announced, at the same time new ‘Working Together’ and ‘Assessment Framework’ were being introduced.(Lonne et al , 2009)

ECM agenda has also introduced the role of lead professionals (LP) together with CAF for working with children , in order to enhance planned and effective interventions for the range of professionals and agencies concerned with the child’s life.(DCSF, 2007a)

Corby(2000) summaries that short-term assessment and decision making in child protection work indicates to a different approach being adopted depending on whether the subject inquiry is a case of physical or sexual abuse. However, short term assessment focuses on the parents and decision making on children. In the case of physical abuse and neglect, there is a little evidence of use of research findings in carrying out assessments, and some evidence to suggest that this is justified.(Corby, 2000).

Applications of feminist theory on every child matter:

This essay will highlight the application of feminist theory on Every Child Matters and will focus on different feminist theories and will relate one of the theories relating to ECM agenda.

Feminist is an important provider to critical practice theory because Feminist viewpoint on social wok spotlight on explaining and responding to the demoralized position of women in most societies due to men dominant societies. However, feminism has industrialized perceptions to explain inequalities between genders. In additition, various feminist theories such as liberal feminism, radical feminism, socialist or Marxist feminism, black feminism and postmodern feminism has developed view point to explain in equalities. (Payne, 2005)

Two systems theories entail a combination of Marxist-feminist and radical feminist ideas, identifying the effect of both capitalism and patriarch as tools of women’s subjugation. Most emphasis on a tendency to use a version of patriarchy rooted in marriage and the family, rather than in sexuality and violence.(Jones, 2003)

Payne (2005) cited Callahan (1996) focuses on the following:

Women experience of is a central aspect of understanding work with children, family and female role within them are crucial elements of child care, relationship need to be constructed to see the connection between private relationship, between spouses and between women and children , interact with definitions of what considered appropriate and then enforced in family relationship.(Payne, 2005)

Payne (2005) says that feminist theory had a most important effect in changing and thinking about roles of genders and relationships mainly relating to social policy and welfare services as applied to ECM agenda. However, it has contributed a dialogical practice and equal relations and group empowerment that have a significant impact on critical and empowerment practice. (Payne, 2005)

For many radical feminists the woman’s world is enclosed within the prospect of real or possible violence by men. (Jones, 2003)

Payne (2005) cited Domeinelli feminist social practice children and families as patriarchal families in which man is regarded as a leading partner and sees child welfare as positive and preventive, rather than protection, resulting in physical abuse to children and domestic violence to women as men are dominant figures.(Payne, 2005)

Patriarchy means the power of men over women and for radical feminist it is a system in which men oppress women. However, for radical feminists, patriarchy is the solution in understanding social structures and patriarchal relations are universal and fundamental.(Jones, 2003)

In practical theory is useful because it organizes and understands the variety and confusion and relationship and oppositions provide a context in which the can be assessed against one another and against the modern context in which they must be used. However, the question still exists which theory may be more effective in social work practice while working with children. (Payne, 2005)


This essay will critically discuss social policy, social change and social theory relating to ECM agenda.

Welfare and Well being of society can be improved via social policy and decides how support and care for disadvantaged people can be achieved. In addition, children can be educated, people can get free health care and the Government can take some measures to reduce poverty, homelessness and other social problems and inequalities.

(Kemshall, 2002)

The Victoria Climbie inquiry (Laming report 2003) clearly reveals how the failure to identify accurately a child in need of protection can have terrible consequences. This has resulted full frontal attack on the child protection system when what is needed is a strengthening of the preventative, legal and therapeutic options to support, rather than challenge or replace, and the child protection function .Furthermore, Child protection as we know it is no longer accepted term in central government guidance and the ensuing children act 2004 and working together guidance has resulted in No place for the established view of child protection, the language of safeguarding predominating, risk being deleted from social work vocabulary and No clear assessment structure existing to integrate the multiple structures in the existence. The number of new initiatives continuing in the absence of integration, evaluation or review(e.g. the Integrated Children system was introduced even before the Assessment Framework upon which it was built had been evaluated: similarly, the concept of children’s trusts was heralded post laming without any evolution of pilot projects. (Wilson & James, 2007)

‘More recently, uncritical acceptance of medical opinion by other professionals has been criticized in the cases of Victoria Climbie and Lauren Wright, whose deaths at the hands of their carers in London and Norfolk respectively were well publicized in the British media’. (Beckett, 2007:p12)

Three models of multi-agency working such as multi-agency panel, multi agency teams and integrated services, have been categorised in Every Child Matters: Change for Children (2007). In first model members are not permanently part of the panel, but identify with and remain employed by their home agencies. The panel has a chair or manager who is also employed by her home agency. The panel meets regularly. This model includes panels, networks and the ‘team around the child ’.In second model teams are permanent and has a team leader and a team identity. .This model includes teams such as Sure Start and behaviour support teams and in third model, the team is co-located, usually as part of a community-based service hub, providing interdisciplinary services to children and families. The team has a similar identity, viewpoint and objectives and is controlled as an interdisciplinary team. Examples of integrated services are family support services and children’s centre teams. Teams that now inhabit children’s services and which are continuing to develop. (DfES, 2007)

Bringing together of different services and shared decision-making have become important and most of the services in several key areas of multi professional work have arisen out of professional developments such as in hospital care, primary health care, social services, community social work, mental health community care and residential care. (Payne, 2000)

In sharp contrast to previous UK governments, the current administration has made women and children a key focus of policy. It has committed considerable resources to this policy agenda. However, there remains much to do if inequalities can be reduced and resources can be used effectively challenged and reduced. reduction of child poverty – a need to increase benefits and the minimum wage, probably by increasing social transfers; further improvement of parental leave provision to the best European levels; reduction in unwanted pregnancies, particularly in young and vulnerable women; improvement of maternal health, in particular promoting nutrition and reducing smoking and substance misuse; provision of affordable childcare for all parents including those on low (or no) incomes and promotion of family-friendly working practices and employment; provision of universal high-quality services such as those being developed through Sure Start, with targeting of increased resources to disadvantaged areas; simplification of child and family service provision by organisational change such as that proposed in Every child matters. Moreover, these changes should be underpinned by sufficient, continued and dedicated financial and other resources, international comparative research, with the aim of identifying key welfare, social and fiscal policies associated with better child health and well-being and reduction of inequalities.(Dowler et al, 2007)

Social changes can be promoted by social work profession, problem can be solved in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people can be enhanced. . By using theories of human behaviors and social system, social work intervenes at points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work. (IFSW, 2007)

Services for children can only be improved by better and more effective and joined up working and multi agency and inter professional working for both universal and targeted, specialist service for children.(Barker,2009:13)


Deaths of helpless children have driven a essential agenda to improve child protection services in the UK. There is still an apprehension that these changes will not be enough to protect children due to great lack of staff and resources, mainly in social services child protection. To get better results from ECM agenda and to fill in the gaps and to overcome shortcomings in children services, there is a need of more high quality staff into children workforce, needs to strengthen inter agency and multidisciplinary working and promotion of stronger leadership and management that will result a great change in services for children. There is a need of spreading the awareness of child protection in order to promote community awareness and involve the wider society. However, in a society which still allows the corporal punishment of children and in which large number of children and families live in poverty

Finally, child protection system is disciplinary to anyone involved. It is difficult to establish a system that can completely control violence against children and sometimes make it uncertain and complicated in protecting a child. For the protection of children Via ECM agenda it is significant that there should be a proper assessment of the risk and a good collaboration between all the agencies concerned in decision making to eliminate the risks around the children.

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