Children's Services at the Crossroads

A Critical Evaluation of Contemporary Policy for Practice

Edited by: Patrick Ayre, Michael Preston-Shoot

In response to widespread and persistent concern over the ability of social services to safeguard and promote the well-being of the most vulnerable children, UK governments have in recent years introduced some of the most far reaching changes ever encountered in this field. However, this book argues that - in England especially - despite the best intentions of those driving these changes forward, the approaches to reform have substantially diminished the capability of children's social services to respond effectively to the complex challenges which they face. In Children's Services at the Crossroads, leading authors in the field of social work explore the impact of the reform agenda on key areas of children's services practice, including child safeguarding, youth offending, children in care, family support, ethical practice, and child welfare law. The book describes an oppressive, managerialist environment within which: process and procedures are prioritized over outcomes and objectives; targets and indicators are prioritized over values and professional standards; compliance and completion are prioritized over analysis and reflection. Key themes include: failures of analysis; lack of effective engagement with research; and the proceduralization, technicalization, and deprofessionalization of the social work task. It argues that effective practice requires management systems to promote, rather than undermine, practitioners' effectiveness. Leaning on more positive developments elsewhere in the UK, it challenges ministers and senior managers to commit to the significant change of direction - both practical and conceptual - which is required if children's services are to escape from the vicious spiral of declining performance into which they are currently in danger of descending.


144 pages

Publication Date: 6/30/2010
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781905541645