Working together? : a survey of professional perceptions in child protection in England
This thesis presents findings from a postal survey in 1991, mainly in three diverse areas in the north of England. 339 members responded from six important professions in child protection: social workers, health visitors, teachers, police, general practitioners and paediatricians. The overall response rate was 60%. It explores practitioners' varied exposure to child protection training and experience of cases, their different severity ratings of brief vignettes of abuse, their thoughts and action proposals and choice of contacts in relation to an unfolding vignette, and their perceptions of local procedures and the functioning of their local child protection networks. The work rests on a literature review published in 1991 under the title Coordination and Child Protection: a review of the literature by Christine Hallett and myself. The general findings of the survey are that interprofessional cooperation and coordination are well accepted tenets among workers in the system and that most informed respondents believe the system works fairly well, particularly in the assessment stage. However, many people, particularly among teachers and general practitioners, revealed an extremely limited involvement in or knowledge of the system. A complex network is revealed. Social workers, specialist police and consultant paediatricians clearly emerge as the core but health visitors appear to be a crucial bridge between frontline agencies and the core professions. Many other professions and agencies appear to have peripheral or episodic involvement in cases. Despite the generally favourable view of the system's functioning, many points of tension and conflict are evident. These range from discrepant evaluations of cases through many other factors to competing priorities and resource shortfalls as obstacles to coordination. A number of proposals to ameliorate some of these tensions are put forward.