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'Revolutionizing' Participation in Child Protection Proceedings

Dillon, J (2019) 'Revolutionizing' Participation in Child Protection Proceedings. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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This thesis explores how English child protection proceedings embed meaningful participation. The collection and interpretation of wishes and feelings during statutory social work practice (s.53 Children Act 2004) should give insight into the child’s lived experience, as well as highlighting their opinion of the impact of social work on their lives. However, with no statutory, participatory social work model currently in place, children are missing opportunities to comment on decisions made for them, by adults, at all stages of the child protection process. Phase One comprised of semi-structured qualitative interviews and focus groups with parents, social workers and participation workers from one local authority. The findings revealed innovative social work practice taking place, along with examples of how practitioners and parents balance protection with participation. However, all research participants identified gaps in both service provision and their personal understanding of (or commitment to) participation. Emerging themes such as the imbalance of power, knowledge and application of social work legislation, relationship building, advocacy, the presence of the child in decision-making forums and the challenges / appropriateness of sharing information with children led to the development of a new model for participation in child protection proceedings. Creative, semi-structured interviews with children aged 8-12 years, who were the subject of a child protection plan and living at home with their parents, were the focus of Phase Two. Whilst most of the participating children shared how much they appreciated their social worker, all indicated a breakdown in their ability to participate, particularly regarding the amount and type of information shared between the practitioner, the parent and the child. The child’s experience of child protection proceedings, and their understanding of their own child protection plan, further tested and validated the usefulness of the newly designed participatory model. Using the work of Bourdieu, this thesis reflects on the field of child protection; the challenge of sharing power in a social space where service user presence is involuntary. What becomes clear is that, despite growing amounts of social work research and literature, there remains little guidance for social workers (particularly newly qualified social workers) to routinely, inclusively and knowledgably embed participation into their daily social work practice. This thesis therefore aims to provide practical responses to service user and practitioner dilemmas, and bridge the gap between research and practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social Work; Child Protection; Participation; Children's Rights
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Nursing & Allied Health
Date Deposited: 13 May 2019 10:24
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2022 12:15
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00010646
Supervisors: Greenop, D, Hills, M and Harrison, J
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10646
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