Journal Article

Looked After Children and the Ethic of Care

Sally Holland

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 6, pages 1664-1680
Published in print September 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2009 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Looked After Children and the Ethic of Care

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This paper draws on the growing field of literature that discusses the relevance of the ethic of care to social work. It is argued that an ethic of justice predominates in looked after children policies and practice, which can serve to underplay the relevance of the traits associated with an ethic of care. Using case examples from a small-scale longitudinal qualitative study of looked after children and care-leavers, the author notes that care is likely to be found in relationships beyond formally ascribed carers and that relational aspects of interactions with social workers are important, despite the lack of opportunity to develop these relationships. Like most people in society, these young people are care-givers and care-receivers, reminding us of the interdependency of human relationships and potentially alleviating some of the ‘othering’ of these young people as care-recipients. It is suggested that the care system pays attention to informal, complex networks of care relationships that may be held by young people and encourages continuity in formal and informal care relationships. It is also suggested that interdependency be acknowledged and valued alongside a goal of self-sufficiency for care-leavers.

Keywords: Looked after children; ethic of care; ethic of justice; foster-care

Journal Article.  7003 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Work

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