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Title: Child-centred practice : the meaning and experience of remaining child-centred for local authority field social workers assessing and providing services to children in need and their families
Author: Nice, Vivien E.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3445 7621
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2004
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Child-cen1red practice is a key concept in social work with children and families, yet its origins, its definition and most importantly its effects have not been specifically explored. The discourse of child-centred practice is seen to have emerged through the influential findings of inquiries into child deaths in the 1980's. In this it is firmly located within a child protection orientation to child welfare which has the potential to affect the practice approach to parents and carers. This study asked twenty local authority field social workers, assessing and providing services to children in need and their families, what child-centred practice meant to them, and how endeavouring to be child-centred impacted on their practice. The research method was qualitative, using a semi-structured interview schedule. The analysis considered the themes emerging from the discourse of the practitioners to consider how the concept 'child-centred' is constructed. In their discourse the practitioners were considered to be on a continuum between 'child-oriented' and 'family-oriented'. There were no examples of 'parent-oriented' discourse where the child was 'lost' in the work. Organisational structures and processes were considered to impact on the practitioners' ability to be child-centred. The findings of the study suggest that practitioners see themselves as upholding a child-centred practice which, where appropriate, involves working with the child within the family and offering support to parents, but when necessary involves action to protect the child. In this they are managing the complex task set for them by legislation of protecting the child and supporting their welfare and development whilst working, as far as possible, in partnership with parents. It is my contention that, for the most part, skilled and experienced practitioners are doing this by holding onto a relationship-based supportive approach despite many competing demands.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.S.W.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available