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Title: Refocusing child protection practice: The role of initial assessments
Author: Platt, Dendy.
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2004
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This research project was established in the context of attempts in the late 1990s to'refocus' practice in the area of child protection. There was an interest in the possibility that reducing the numbers of investigations, at the margins of child protection procedures, might enable time and resources to be redirected towards more supportive responses. It was anticipated that the research might add to the range of studies that helped to evaluate 'refocusing', by exploring issues involved in the front line practices of social workers. To achieve this, it focused on the proposed alternative to the investigation, the initial assessment. Data came from 23 case studies: families where the situations involved concerns about children that came close to the child protection threshold. The cases were part of Social Services' workloads in two local authorities in the north of England. For the most, the social work responses were initial assessments, but a small number of investigations were included in the sample. 44 qualitative interviews were conducted with social workers and parents, focusing on the process of the assessment (or investigation), and issues arising from it. The findings indicated that social workers were able to use initial assessments to combine aspects of both child protection and family support approaches, especially in borderline cases. They demonstrated how workers used a number of techniques - especially in terms of practical reasoning and relationship building - to help them manage this situation. Concepts used by workers in evaluating their assessments included specificity of information, severity of harm, the role (or culpability) of the parent, the degree of parental co-operation and the availability of corroborating information. The congruence of views about the assessment (between worker and parent) was an important factor affecting the working relationship. Practice implications included the suggestion that initial assessments are an acceptable response in borderline cases.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available