Care-experienced children and young people frequently face adverse ‘life chances’ when compared to their peers. Their life-course trajectories typically include numerous personal, structural and culturally determined challenges set from a young age. Social workers in the UK now play a minimal role in direct support for young people and are instead encouraged to focus on short-term priorities, safeguarding investigations and monitoring ‘risky’ working-class parents. This article considers some explanations and evidence offered for educational and other inequalities experienced by care-experienced children and young people, and highlights specific issues regarding ongoing neoliberal reforms of social care. Case examples relating to criminal justice, asylum-seeking children and sexuality are then briefly discussed. The conclusion draws from evidence to identify some recommendations that may help improve care-experienced children and young people’s full learning potential. This includes moving away from the current neoliberal-inspired short-term focus placed on managing risk and towards the provision of more contextual and meaningful support.
This article explores the use of a pedagogic approach that utilises critical discourse theories to examine how people construct the social work identity while navigating the neoliberal landscape. The approach adopts an interventionist stance to engage individuals in a type of conversation that exposes dominant discourses within social work and what these represent, as well as their effects. It provides practitioners with ways in which to reconsider competing and contradictory aspects of the social work identity, and, more crucially, it facilitates a conversation where the more marginalised, competing and coexisting discourses can be interwoven alongside the contemporary challenges of practice. Based on reclaiming a professional identity as a way of resisting hegemonic discourses, this method aims to provide ways to recontextualise language practices surrounding social work’s occupational mission and identity. Here, it is assumed that professional identities are never complete but instead viewed as shifting, changing and contradictory.
This article examines the views of 29 victim survivors (who were part of a larger study) who retrospectively disclosed non-recent child sexual abuse regarding their reasons for disclosure, the child protection and criminal justice responses to them, and the possible ways for improving system responses to address their needs and interests. The reasons for disclosure centred on a desire to pass the burden of the abuse to someone else, to achieve a subjectively defined form of justice and to regain power and control over their lives. Following disclosure, victim survivors often found themselves involved in two forms of investigation: child protection and criminal justice. The findings suggest that criminal justice systems do not adequately address victims’ needs in these circumstances. They often feel marginal to child protection investigations and feel used instrumentally in those proceedings. However, having social workers ‘rattle the cage’ of perpetrators provided comfort for some victim survivors who failed to get justice through criminal justice mechanisms. Based on the research presented in this study, it is suggested that restorative justice may have something to offer as part of the response to non-recent disclosures of child sexual abuse as part of both criminal justice and child protection investigations and processes.
Intimate partner violence is a global problem experienced by all population groups, irrespective of socio-economic, religious and cultural background, and including both women and men. This systematic narrative review synthesises empirical research to draw conclusions on facilitators of, and barriers to, accessing help for victims of intimate partner violence. A search in Scopus, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Medline and PsycInfo conducted in October 2021 identified 864 articles that were independently reviewed to yield 47 relevant studies published between 2011 and 2021 in peer-reviewed journals. The included studies were synthesised using the following headings: (1) personal aspects; (2) family and friends; (3) community factors; (4) referral channels; (5) financial aspects; and (6) service issues. The severity of injury seemed to be a key factor in deciding to seek help. Family and friends were helpful to victims who were looking for support with their relationship and as a support on their journey towards services. A third key finding was that health and care systems are important referral channels for intimate partner violence services. As supports in intimate partner violence develop, consideration is required not only of the trauma of the victim but also how to communicate and facilitate access to help.
In this article, we introduce the concept of a policy cascade, which describes the process of creating policies to address the consequences of other policies. Using the concept of wicked problems introduced by Rittel and Webber in 1973, we trace state and federal policies to address domestic violence to show how they form a policy cascade and decenter survivors. By treating social issues as wicked problems, upstream approaches that bypass compounding effects of policy may help recenter survivor needs.
It can be difficult for researchers to access research participants from vulnerable populations. Focusing on the single victim interviewee recruited for my human trafficking-related research, this article will examine the method employed to conduct research with her, which I term ‘case study by proxy’: a new hybrid qualitative methodological approach combining elements of the case study and interview by proxy methods. This may prove to be a valuable methodological tool for researchers studying vulnerable populations.
Over recent decades, ‘social innovation’ has become a buzzword. The term breathes progress and promising improvements but often stays rather theoretical instead of bringing real social change. In this article, the meaning of social innovation in the context of social work and social work research is explored, as well as how social work research can contribute to social innovation. It is argued that if social innovation is defined properly and connected with the values expressed in the international definition of social work, it can strengthen the identity and impact of social work and social work research. Social quality is presented as a theoretical framework that fits well for positioning social work research aimed at innovation. Enhancing social quality can be done in many ways, such as revealing the causes and mechanisms of social exclusion, supporting change processes by monitoring and evaluation, or co-creating better solutions by using action and design research methods.
In recent years, there has been an increased focus on using art as an approach in the field of social work. This article examines how painting art can become a valuable tool for communication and social participation for children who suffer from environmental challenges at school and in their upbringing environment. The research is in collaboration with Peacepainting, which uses art painting workshops worldwide to work for equality and peace. Within the framework of social work, we explore painting art as a tool for communication and artistic activity as a social-learning process developed through modes of belonging in a community of practice. Through fieldwork consisting of observation of painting processes, the children’s participation in the workshop and individual interviews with children and instructors, the empirical findings show that artwork provided the children opportunities to experience themselves in new ways through visual expression, which increased their self-confidence. The findings show that painting workshops have the potential to be a changemaker in society and an essential tool in social work practice, creating individual learning processes for the participants, establishing a community for inclusion of exposed groups and contributing to changing the processes of established structural institutions, such as schools, welfare services and the local municipality.