From system critique to front-line change in approaching child protection
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With the increasingly evident growth in poverty and inequality since the introduction of austerity measures in the UK, the work of child protection is more and more situated within a socio-political and economic context. A more punitive approach toward child protection is punishing the poorest and most marginalized people in society through the removal of children.
The researcher Prof Kate Featherstone and Brid Morris found evidence for the need for a more humane approach to families. They talked directly with families in need, asking them, for the first time, how they would design agency involvement, tapping into resources and knowledge previously overlooked. The work revealed the complexity of a system which had families meeting with up to 9 different agencies. Managing the endless run of meetings was in turn creating stress and fracturing rather than supporting and strengthening the families the agencies were ostensibly trying to help.
One key finding is that fragmented services divide families and can create a dance of responsibility that is demeaning for them and costly to the public purse. Services should be designed to reduce avoidable silos and aim to work with multiple needs simultaneously from a limited number of delivery points.
Although the study is not new it is still a timely topic.