This article critically examines the work of twenty-two local authority social workers undertaking child protection investigations. The findings suggest that, while the social workers were committed to being (and believed their practice to be) participative, the dual tasks of making risk assessments for the conference and working in partnership with the families concerned produced conflicts of interests and rights. The impact of these on social workers' engagement with family members, on their assessments, and on the decision making process is explored. It is concluded that the difficulties identified limit opportunities for participative practice, and that these difficulties are endemic to the present system. It is argued that these findings point up the need for a more broadly based child-care service which more appropriately meets the families' welfare needs, and that the contradictory nature of the conference task should be addressed by clarifying the legal base of the intervention and developing other models of decision making. Some ways forward are suggested.
Journal Article. 0 words.
Subjects: Social Work
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