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Title: The identification of child neglect in social work practice
Author: Chaudhry, M. N.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 0108
Awarding Body: University of Salford
Current Institution: University of Salford
Date of Award: 2017
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Statistics highlight child neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment within the United Kingdom. The research described here was an exploratory study which used the pragmatic approach of a survey design to explore how social workers identify child neglect. Social workers complete assessments of children in need of help and protection and this assessment process determines whether a referral should be responded to as a child in need of support (as per Section 17, Children Act 1989) or as a child in need of protection (as per Section 47, Children Act 1989). The definition of child neglect is provided by the Department for Education for use by social workers in its assessment. However, the usefulness of the definition of child neglect is questioned within the literature due to differences in the breath and scope of what is considered a basic need and differences in what are considered to be adequate standards of provision to meet them. The study used an online survey directed at members of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and social workers from one Local Authority in the North West of England. There were five sections in the online survey: information on participants’ demographics, the second category focussed on caseloads, identification of child neglect, resources to support the identification of child neglect resources and finally the health and wellbeing of social workers. The major findings were that factors relating to the child were most salient when assessing neglect. This is in clear contrast to previous studies using the same criteria which found that factors relating to the parent were the most significant. The definition of child neglect provided by the Department for Education was highlighted as being problematic with approximately two thirds of participants reporting that the definition was helpful but over a third of participants found it unhelpful. Challenges in defining child neglect appear to be exacerbated by a lack of agreement among professionals from the same group on the nature of neglect. Up to one third of participants reported that they did not feel equipped to work with families in cases of neglect, and approximately half of participants reported that they were not able to follow up on concerns due to their workload. The implication of the findings is that whilst neglect continues to be a primary reason for social work intervention, social work practitioners appear to be working with a definition which the majority find helpful yet acknowledge that there is much less consensus on the nature of neglect. This is a concerning matter as social work practitioners are working with ambiguity yet are agents of the state protecting children from harm when they are unclear about thresholds and level of need.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available