Social work and Irish people in Britain
Historical and contemporary responses to Irish children and families

Five: Social services departments and Irish children and families in the early 21st century

So far, this book has investigated social work’s historical responses to Irish ‘unmarried mothers’ and children in Britain and gone on to look at how today’s dominant conceptualisation of ‘race’ and ethnicity has tended to omit an Irish dimension. In a contemporary context, however, it is clearly important to try to find out how social services departments (SSDs) are responding to Irish children and families. Indeed, to generate a more appropriate response it is important to try to ascertain what the current approach is in terms of social work practice in the various SSDs throughout England and Wales.

In what follows, the chief research instrument was a questionnaire, which was completed by SSD directors or delegated officers within their organisations. The support of the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) was obtained in July 2001 in order for the questionnaire to be distributed among its members and it was agreed that no specific SSD would be identified in any research that was subsequently published. Initially, a pilot exercise was undertaken and a draft version of the questionnaire was mailed to five directors in geographically and demographically diverse areas of England and Wales. This included an authority in Wales, London, the Midlands, and in north-west and south-west England. Having obtained their views on the content of the questionnaire and the process of completing it, minor amendments were made. It was then mailed to the directors of SSDs in England and Wales in January 2002.

All SSDs who were are members of the ADSS network were mailed, excluding those in Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Man.

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