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Title: A mixed methods study of children's social worker decision-making relating to families headed by parents with intellectual difficulties
Author: Retzer, Ameeta
ISNI:       0000 0004 6352 6878
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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People with intellectual disabilities (ID) have faced prejudice throughout history. The evolution of human and civil rights particularly pertaining to individuals with disabilities led to dramatic revision of governmental policy. People with ID are better supported in many areas of their lives. However, as parents, they experience disproportionately high rates of child removal compared to other groups. A three-stage mixed methods approach was used to investigate decision-making by children's social workers (CSWs) in England relating to cases concerning the children of parents with ID (PWID). The aim was to identify the components of decision-making and formulate an empirically-based theory of how safeguarding concerning the children of PWID is considered and addressed. Data was collected from 33 serious case reviews involving children of PWID, a modified factorial survey with 191 participating CSWs, and a series of focus group discussions with CSWs. Qualitative data was analysed using the Framework Method and the Constant Comparison Method, and the quantitative data was fitted into a generalised ordinal logistic regression model. The findings indicate that a range of factors contribute to decision-making. Families often presented with multiple vulnerabilities rather than ID alone and had complex support needs. Factors featuring to various degrees in decision making include availability of time, specialist resources, and professional expertise; parental engagement and their wider social and familial relationships; and children's resilience and the presence and readiness of their own support and safeguarding structures. The pertinence of parental ID (PID) to CSW assessment appeared to be relative to the other characteristics of a child safeguarding case. In safeguarding scenarios where PID was accompanied by less risky factors, PID increased the likelihood of CSWs making an assessment of higher risk. Where PID presented alongside more overtly risky factors, it did not contribute significantly to a higher assessment of risk. The study concludes that discriminatory practice by CSWs towards PWID does not appear to be a direct factor in the removal of children.
Supervisor: Gray, Ronald ; Kaye, Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available