Child protection and independent day care services : examining the interface of policy and practice
This thesis adopted a tripartite analysis of child protection policy and independent day care practice incorporating three types of evidence including an historical policy analysis, a contemporary policy analysis and analysis of new empirical data from independent day care providers. The theoretical framework incorporated a view of power in social policy that allowed for multiple perspectives on, and sources of control over, the direction of policy, and a perspective on caring that emphasised the social relations of caring alongside the human activity of caring. Policy recipients were seen as significant social actors, whose views on policy implementation provided an important contributing voice in an evaluation of policy in practice. The policy analysis began by noting that the two fields of child protection and day care had developed in parallel, overlapping rarely, but were brought together in the Children Act 1989. Public policies in the field of child welfare have long identified a potential or actual role for public day care services in preventing abuse, but the implications in practice for such a role being undertaken by independent day care services has not been explored in practice. The study found that while there is little evidence of formal policy implementation, following the publication of Working Together (Home Office et al., 1991), about 20% of a sample of 49 day care providers had had experience of child protection nvestigations on their premises. A further 30% had experience of making referrals to, or caring for children on behalf of social services departments. Key themes used to explore the operation of the policy in practice were the particular structural contexts of independent day care services, social relations between providers and parents, and the implications of these for the policy objective of `partnership'.