Journal Article

A Qualitative Study of Social Work Assessment in Cases of Alleged Child Abuse

DOROTHY SCOTT

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 28, issue 1, pages 73-88
Published in print February 1998 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online February 1998 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.bjsw.a011319
A Qualitative Study of Social Work Assessment in Cases of Alleged Child Abuse

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SUMMARY

While there has been considerable theorizing about how social workers think and act, there has been relatively little research in this area. In the study reported in this paper, in-depth interviews and observations of practice were used to explore the process of assessment undertaken by Australian social workers in a hospital specialist service and in a statutory child protection service. Using a semi-longitudinal approach which ‘shadowed’ 10 families (17 allegedly abused children), highly detailed data were collected from 42 observations of practice and 123 interviews with 12 hospital social workers and 15 child protection workers on how their assessments evolved over the life of these cases. While there were some individual differences between practitioners within each organization, of greater significance were the marked differences between the two groups in the variables to which they attended. Both groups tended to adopt a proceduralized model of practice which narrowed the range of factorsconsidered in assessment.

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Subjects: Social Work

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