Key Provisions of Contemporary Social Policy, and Its Impact on Services to Children and Families with Regard to This State – Parent – Child Relationship

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“Social Policy is the way that governments attempt to ensure that all citizens can lead a fulfilling and responsible life.” (Mullard, 1995) So what is Social Policy? – When asked this question I find it quite difficult to explain in terms that are easy enough for everyone to understand, therefore I have done research in order to find a simple explanation. I particularly like Hartley Dean’s definition, ‘Social Policy is the study of human wellbeing’ he also states that ‘Social Policy, involves the study of human wellbeing, the social relations necessary for wellbeing and the systems by which wellbeing may be promoted.’ In my opinion this explanation is clear, concise and makes it easy to understand. (Dean, 2005). Our thoughts and ideas of childhood as a social construction have altered noticeably over the last ten years. The development of constructions of childhood has steadily become more intricate as the numbers of theories rise. Through research of early examples of childhood this essay sets out to describe how contemporary thinking of childhood has developed through complex patterns of sociological deliberation and political, cultural and historical pressures. (Kehily, p. 2-12). During the past 10 years, the changing attitudes and arising problems within the state-parent-child relationship has stirred a vast amount of concern leading to the need for further research; which in turn has lead to new policy proposals. It is widely believed that the lack of support given to families, due to the collapse of communities working together in harmony, is impacting on the current, wider spread, social problems within our families. It has become more predominant that state-parent-child relationships play an important role in the wellbeing of today’s children. (Barnes et al. 2006). Having an understanding of Social Policy offers us guidelines which in turn promotes our abilities to ensure the well-being, needs and rights of children are being met. Working towards these guidelines set by the government we are able to help change and reduce the power disparity between children and adults; allowing children to have a say on decisions that will impact on their future lives through listening to the individuals thoughts and opinions whilst considering that children have rights too. It is of upmost importance, that those working with children use this approach, continually keeping up-to-date with current laws and legislation within this area. Having an understanding of how social policy has changed over the years is also an important factor to consider; giving us a clear understanding of how policies and legislation have changed in order to improve outcomes for children in relation to available resources, shared responsibilities and managing risk. “Yet social policy, unlike law, has the potential to be proactive – to set in place a series of principles that define a just and inclusive society and practical but flexile ways of implementing them”. (Hendrick, 2008, p. 336) In the UK, Parliament is responsible for making changes to law. Parliament is made up of the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Queen, they must all agree to any new law before it can be passed and become an Act of Parliament. There is not just a single law in place to protect children but a multitude of laws, legislation and guidance which cover all aspects of children’s care in the UK. (Alcock et al. 2008, p.19-25). Past information about social policy offers us a view of the past and how it has changed, as Harold Perkin said “We want to know not only what laws were made or battles fought or even how men [sic] got their living, but what it felt like to be alive, how men [sic] in history – not merely kings and popes, statesmen and tycoons – lived and worked and thought and behaved towards each other.” (Perkin, 1981, p. 24) In 1945 the Welfare State was created, this offered a new focal point towards the children’s physical health to coincide with earlier...
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