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Preview: British Journal of Social Work - current issue

The British Journal of Social Work Current Issue

Published: Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2018 07:52:48 GMT


Editorial: Social Work and the Five Giant Evils

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

We open this issue, the first in 2018, with a timely reminder of those elements of social work which are both fundamental and constant. In our Editors’ Choice, Jonathan Dickens returns to the writings of Clement Attlee—Labour prime minister for the government that came in after the Second World War and was well known for many achievements, among which was the creation of the National Health Service. Less well known is that Attlee had been a social worker and social work lecturer. Dickens argues that Attlee’s vision of social work, as ‘radical, relationship-based, realistic and reciprocal’, is as relevant for contemporary social work as it was in the 1920s and the Britain in which he practised manifested similar socio-economic problems and ideological struggles to the UK today.

Promoting Academic Success of Children in Care

Mon, 15 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Evidence from international studies shows that a significant number of adults who have been in state care are known to be living in adverse circumstances. Their unemployment rate is high as well as their rates of poverty, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness and criminal offending. A key factor contributing to these poor adult outcomes for children is lack of educational or vocational qualifications. There is evidence that a high number of children in care leave school early, with their failure to attain a tertiary qualification directly linked to this. This Australian study was designed to investigate the factors that contributed to the education of academically successful ex-care women with the intention that the findings might inform current practice to promote the educational achievement of children in care contexts. Eighteen ex-care Australian women with a university degree were interviewed, their educational journeys collected and the data analysed using a narrative methodology. What emerged was that a range of factors contributed to supporting the education of children and young people in care contexts. The foundational, or overarching, themes emerging from the data were ‘conducive environment’ and ‘personal factors’. Conducive environment included the sometimes interrelated themes of: valuing of education, social networks; practical and financial resources; and personal factors included resilience and motivating factors. These themes and their elements are discussed in light of current practice implications.

Occupying Liminal Spaces in Post-Conflict Social Welfare Reform? Local Professionals and International Organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mon, 15 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This article presents the findings from a small-scale, exploratory, qualitative study on the perceptions of local managers working for international organisations involved in social welfare reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a post-conflict society. The findings explore the nature of the involvement of international organisations in reform efforts during and after the war, characterised by the development of a parallel welfare system, imported understandings of social welfare issues, and difficulties in ensuring that international projects are complementary to statutory services and embedded within the wider society. The nature of policy translation renders many of these projects and programmes unsustainable. In conclusion, the text argues for closer linkages between social welfare and development studies research and practice, addressing the political dimensions of welfare reform and the need for greater coproduction of post-conflict social welfare policies and practices with service users.

A Comparative Study of the Use of Different Risk-Assessment Models in Danish Municipalities

Fri, 12 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Risk-assessment models are widely used in casework involving vulnerable children and families. Internationally, there are a number of different kinds of models with great variation in regard to the characteristics of factors that harm children. Lists of factors have been made but most of them give very little advice on how the factors should be weighted. This paper will address the use of risk-assessment models in six different Danish municipalities. The paper presents a comparative analysis and discussion of differences and similarities between three models: the Integrated Children’s System (ICS), the Signs of Safety (SoS) model and models developed by the municipalities themselves (MM). The analysis will answer the following two key questions: (i) to which risk and protective factors do the caseworkers give most weight in the risk assessment? and (ii) does each of the different models ensure a holistic assessment (which is required by law in Denmark)? The study contributes to the discussion about the use of risk-assessment models and whether these newer models have actually made a difference in what is assessed when looking at families at risk.

Arts as a Methodology for Connecting between Micro and Macro Knowledge in Social Work: Examples of Impoverished Bedouin Women’s Images in Israel

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This paper outlines a set of art mechanisms that can help to co-produce knowledge between service users, social workers and policy makers. The paper will demonstrate how the arts can enable a space to reflect, to give concrete shape and to discuss and explore new meanings of an issue, for both ‘sides’ of the interaction together. Art enables situating subjective experience within social context with the help of the relationship between figure, background and spatial division of recourses (meaning material physical and also abstract recourses available to a specific group). Finally, arts enable negotiating multiple understandings and initiating new perspectives through using shifting symbols and shifting compositional elements. These mechanisms are demonstrated through images of a group of marginalised Bedouin women in Israel. The article discusses implications of conceptualising the relationship between social work and the arts and humanities as a way to enhance social workers’ skills.

Clement Attlee and the Social Service Idea: Modern Messages for Social Work in England

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Clement Attlee is most famous for being the Labour prime minister of the UK after the Second World War. It is less well known that he was a social worker and a social work lecturer on either side of the First World War, before he was elected to parliament in 1922. He had even written a book about it: The Social Worker, published in 1920. This paper describes Attlee’s time as a social worker and social work lecturer, setting his experiences and the book in the context of the times, especially the tensions and overlaps between ‘individualist’ and ‘collectivist’ understandings of society. It outlines Attlee’s vision of social work, and considers the ongoing relevance of his understandings of social work and society. In particular, the paper highlights Attlee’s notion of ‘the social service idea’. This brings together four essential elements of social work—that it should be radical, relationship-based, realistic and reciprocal. Attlee’s social service idea, and his individual example, still offer guidance and inspiration for social work today.

Social Workers’ Use of Moral Entrepreneurship to Enact Professional Ethics in the Field: Case Studies from the Social Justice Profession

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Social workers must manoeuvre within the challenging landscape of service delivery to achieve better outcomes for clients. We apply the concepts of moral entrepreneurship and street-level bureaucracy to three case studies to illustrate how social workers meet organisational mandates while maintaining personal and professional integrity. Dolores, a child-protective services worker, refuses to separate a family rendered homeless due to intimate partner violence despite the difficulty of finding appropriate housing. The Women’s Community Revitalization Project, a Philadelphia non-profit, works collaboratively with constituents and researchers to leverage power, hold city agencies accountable and garner resources for the low-income communities it serves. Brigit works in a court-affiliated prostitution diversion programme; she is critical of existing social systems and resources that limit her clients’ choices, and strives to deliver non-judgemental and practical assistance while desiring broader change. These case studies demonstrate how social workers can and should utilise discretion to further the interests of clients, to resist structures that undercut these interests when necessary and to act in accordance with their professional ethics.

Forms of Practitioner Research

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Τhe aim of this paper is to draw on evidence to identify distinctions within those forms of research which are to significant degrees practitioner-engaged. The research review on which this is based took place in the fields of health, social care and social work. We suggest there are different forms of practitioner research, and that using a blanket term for all instances of such inquiry may confuse rather than enlighten. Drawing from the data, we characterise these as ‘practitioner-led’ and ‘academic-partnership’ research. We set out a range of distinctions with regard to the occupational roles of researchers, research relationships, writing relationships, the focus of the research questions and problems, research methodology, the extent to which benefits and utilisation are addressed, and the writing ‘voice’ in published outputs. We conclude that the policy and practice implications ought not to be cast in stone through any regulatory framework, but should be seen as implying a flexible and enabling reference point. Practitioner research should not be petrified in ways that suit the dominant identity of this or that professional community.

‘Siblings as Better Together’: Social Worker Decision Making in Cases Involving Sibling Sexual Behaviour

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Sibling abuse is arguably the most prevalent form of family violence (Meyers, 2014), with sibling sexual abuse more common than parental sexual abuse (Krienert and Walsh, 2011). However, research on social worker decision making has been limited to situations concerning parental abuse, with almost no attention paid to situations where a child in the family presents a risk. This grounded-theory study analyses from interviews with twenty-one social workers in Scotland their retrospective accounts of decisions relating to sibling living and contact arrangements regarding twenty-one families in which sibling sexual behaviour has occurred. It finds that decisions are made intuitively, influenced by a practice mindset of ‘siblings as better together’. This mindset comprises three underlying perspectives: children as vulnerable and intending no sexual harm to others; sibling relationships as non-abusive and of intrinsic value; and parents as well-intentioned protective. These perspectives encourage a focus on immediate safety rather than emotional harm, and could be said to extend Dingwall et al.’s (1983) ‘rule of optimism’. There is a danger of the victim child becoming lost. The study opens up a new area of research, its findings of relevance for professional groups beyond social workers including specialist nurses and other allied health professionals.

Conducting Research with Survivors of Sex Trafficking: Lessons from a Financial Diaries Study in the Philippines

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Human trafficking is a significant human rights issue confronting social workers, and yet rigorous research on human trafficking remains limited, particularly in the social work field. Numerous ethical and methodological challenges arise when researching human trafficking. Few studies have, however, examined the process of conducting research with trafficked persons. This study explored the process of conducting research with survivors of sex trafficking and their family members, focusing on relational dynamics that emerged in interviewers’ relationships with survivors. Findings were taken from a six-month financial diaries study that was conducted with survivors of sex trafficking and their family members in the Philippines, involving 352 interviews with survivors and family members. Field observations detailing the interviewers’ interactions with research participants during the financial diaries were analysed using thematic analysis. Four themes were identified in the analysis: the trust-building process, multi-layered relationships and managing expectations, situational responsiveness and the emotional impact of the research process. Recommendations for conducting research with trafficked persons are provided.

The Experience of Change among Young Violent Immigrants Serving Time in Prison: An Existential Social Work Perspective

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This article is part of a larger qualitative study on norm conflict and violence among young immigrants. The aim is to understand the experience of change among young, violent male immigrants to Israel from the Former Soviet Union (FSU), who are serving time in prison. Criterion sampling for this article included inmates, aged eighteen to twenty-five, who were serving prison sentences at the time of the interview for crimes of violence committed as adolescent immigrants. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten inmates. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and analysed according to qualitative methods. Novice inmates (non-violent in the FSU but had become violent in Israel) were found to blame mainly society whereas persister inmates (had been violent in the FSU and in Israel) were found to blame mainly factors related to their personal psychological lives. However, regardless of the source of blame, all inmates experienced personal/psychological change including regret, reflectivity and taking responsibility. Findings are discussed heuristically using an existential social work perspective. Findings suggest that, although violence can be attributed to personal and/or social reasons, change needs to come from within the person alongside social change, regardless of what triggered the violence. Prevention and intervention programmes are discussed in light of this understanding.

How ‘Anti-ing’ becomes Mastery: Moral Subjectivities Shaped through Anti-Oppressive Practice

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Anti-oppressive practice (AOP) has been popularly adopted in the undergraduate and graduate levels as a dominant framework for theorising about oppression, the self and working towards change. It is conceptualised as the socially just framework to practise from when engaging racialised and marginalised populations. Using a post-structural Foucauldian analysis, I intend to examine the discursive effects of AOP as occupying a position of mastery. Specifically, the active process of ‘anti-ing’ is a way of governing the self which becomes a form of currency when it is taken up as a dominant discourse. Looking at three tenets of AOP theory relating to identity, authenticity and resistance, I suggest that AOP can operate to re-inscribe a normalcy that relies on the construction of a moral subjectivity, effectively obscuring the types of work that are required to modify and regulate oneself when performing ‘anti-ing’.

Perfect Bedfellows: Why Early Intervention Can Play a Critical Role in Protecting Children—A Response to Featherstone et al. (2014) ‘A Marriage Made in Hell: Child Protection Meets Early Intervention’

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

In their article ‘A marriage made in hell: Child protection meets early intervention’, Featherstone et al. (2014) question the value of early intervention in preventing or addressing early signs of child maltreatment. In this article, we summarise and critique their main contentions. Among the issues we cover are the difference between intervention and support, the tension between fidelity and flexibility, the relative value of randomised controlled trials, the evidence of ‘what works’, the use of neuroscience, the place of innovation and the role of wider socio-economic factors. We are sympathetic to many of the points raised by Featherstone et al. but argue that they misrepresent early intervention, provide insufficient empirical support for their case and ignore evidence that runs counter to their views. We outline an alternative vision for child protection that addresses many of the concerns expressed while incorporating high-quality evidence on early intervention.

Barriers Facing Social Workers Undertaking Direct Work with Children and Young People with a Learning Disability Who Communicate Using Non-Verbal Methods

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This paper analyses data drawn from a small group of qualified social workers specialising in work with disabled children who communicate using non-verbal methods. While a number of studies have criticised social services for neglecting disabled children, this paper re-evaluates evidence from the standpoint of a small group of experienced practitioners. Three substantive themes are explored, which include: problems faced by practitioners communicating with children and young people; barriers to direct work; and positive engagement or use of creative methods. Among other findings, the paper highlights the complexity of communication techniques when seeking to accommodate diverse service user and carer needs, as well as creative responses used by practitioners despite significant barriers that include limited available training, technology and financial resources. Despite policy initiatives and legal requirements emphasising the importance of direct work and participation with disabled children, the conclusion reiterates the narrow focus of current risk-averse social work around disability, as well as a need for additional resources and training to improve relationships, communication and meaningful support for children and young people who meet basic legal requirements.

Child Mortality and Child-Abuse-Related Deaths in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Estonia, FRY Macedonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia Compared to Western Comparators the USA and the UK (1988–90 to 2012–14)

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Child-abuse-related deaths (CARD) and child mortality rates (CMR) are important issues in every culture. This paper examines both CARD and CMR in seventeen former communist countries (FCCs) since the end of the Russian hegemony, with two Western comparator countries: the USA and the UK. World Health Organisation CARD and CMR data (birth to four years) between 1988–90 and 2012–14 have been extrapolated. Chi-square tests compare each FCC mortality outcome with the Western comparators over the period. To avoid under-reporting of CARD, undetermined deaths are also analysed and combined with confirmed CARD to provide a maximum estimate of abuse-related deaths. Combined CARD fell substantially in all FCCs, on average by 66 per cent. Russia had the least successful reduction (–25 per cent). Combined CARD fell significantly more in sixteen FCCs than in the USA. CMR in FCCs fell on average by 66 per cent over the period. Moldova, Russia and FRY Macedonia have the highest current CMR. Thirteen FCCs had significantly greater CMR reductions than the Western comparators. All but one FCCs met the UN millennium 2 per cent per annum reduction target for CMR but not the USA and Bulgaria. Most FCCs have made substantial improvements in reducing CARD and CMR. Country-specific research is required to investigate the major differences between FCCs and Western comparator outcomes.

Secondary Traumatic Stress, Burnout and Compassion Satisfaction among Norwegian Child Protection Workers: Protective and Risk Factors

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Working with maltreated children is identified as a risk factor for child protection workers’ own psychological well-being. In this cross-sectional study, the first aim was to evaluate the presence of secondary traumatic stress (STS) and burnout (BO), as well as levels of compassion satisfaction (CS) in a national sample of 506 Norwegian CPS workers. The second aim was to examine risk and protective factors. Zero per cent of the respondents showed high levels of BO or STS. Seventy per cent of the participants reported moderate symptoms of BO. Nearly 37 per cent reported moderate symptoms of STS. In total, 83.7 per cent of the respondents experienced moderate levels of CS, whereas only 14 per cent of the respondents reported high levels. Low levels of CS and high work-load were the strongest predictors of a high score for BO, whereas work–family conflict, work-load and a high score for attachment anxiety predicted symptoms of STS. Positive challenges at work, a sense of mastery of the work and commitment to their organisation were associated with improved levels of CS in the workers. Several factors may protect the well-being of child protection workers but the present results show that measures employed should be based on an understanding of these risk and protective factors.

Introducing Mental Health: A Practical Guide, 2nd edn Caroline Kinsella and Connor Kinsella

Wed, 05 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Introducing Mental Health: A Practical Guide, 2nd edn,KinsellaCaroline and KinsellaConnor, London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2015, pp. viii + 200, ISBN 978–1–84905–596–3, £16.99 (p/b)

Direct Payments and Personal Budgets: Putting Personalisation into Practice, 3rd edn, J. Glasby and R. Littlechild

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Direct Payments and Personal Budgets: Putting Personalisation into Practice, 3rd edn,GlasbyJ. and LittlechildR., Bristol, Policy Press, 2016, pp. 224, ISBN 9781447326762, £19.99 (p/b)