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Child care law and policy issues generate very strong emotions and raise crucial questions concerning the role of the state. For example, when should the state intervene and use the force of the law to protect children? Do children have the same rights as adults? Such questions are considered in this text, in the light of well-publicized child abuse cases, official enquiries, and a government review which led to the passing of the Children Act in 1989.;The text presents four different value perspectives on child care policy - ""laissez-faire"", state paternalism, defence of the birth family, and children's rights. These perspectives differ in their underlying values, concepts and assumptions concerning children, families, the rights and powers of parents and the role of the state. Each perspective is provided with a critical examination in this study, showing how they can point to very different policy directions.;The work has been considerably revised and updated since the first edition, taking account of the significant legislative and policy changes in the area of child care. It includes an expanded section on the developments in children's rights.