7: Decolonising practice: ‘doing’ Contextual Safeguarding with an ethics of care

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In this chapter, we contextualise children’s social care within wider historical oppressive processes and systems built on legacies of colonialism and imperialism. As Contextual Safeguarding (CS) gains international attention, it is important that we speak to the ongoing impact of these legacies, how they inform historical and contemporary social care practice and what this means for CS as an approach that seeks to achieve reform in this area. We explore the opportunities within a CS approach for challenging these harmful legacies through its values, outlining why it is important our practice is shaped by these principles and values when we ‘do’ CS. In doing so, we raise important questions about the future implementation of CS, and outline an ‘ethics of care’ that must underpin this work if we are to avoid replicating the harmful legacies observed in traditional forms of family social work. To encourage this resistance and help grasp these principles in practice, we finish the chapter asking a series of reflective questions that prompt ongoing conversation in our journeys to embed CS, ultimately holding us to ask, how can we care for system change in an ethical way?

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