How learning from the lived experiences of child protection social workers, can help us understand the factors underpinning workforce instability within the English child protection system

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

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Abstract

The English child protection system continues to be the focus of national commentary in light of several high-profile child deaths and the recently published reports from the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, and the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel. Whilst narratives of ‘failure’, ‘betrayal’, and ‘scandalous incompetence’ perpetuate, these forgo consideration of the complexity of child protection work, nor do they acknowledge that during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, social workers remained one of the few professional groups visiting vulnerable families at home. Moreover, of the recent accounts of the lived experience of social workers, these have omitted a specific overview of what it means to be a child protection practitioner. Drawing from an original ethnography of a statutory child protection team and supplemented by follow-up interviews, the article seeks to elucidate the long-standing lived experience of a cohort of child protection social workers. It highlights a ‘tendency’ to be the target of threats and intimidation and identifies other associated costs in the context of health and personal relationships. The article concludes that these findings could help us better understand child protection workforce instability and the system’s reliance on agency staff – both of which continue to be identified as contributory in child death tragedies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social Work Practice
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2023

Keywords

  • Child protection
  • lived experience
  • social work
  • threats
  • workforce

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