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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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This chapter offers an overview of the current difficulties and dilemmas within the English care system, particularly foster care and residential children’s homes. It explores the needs of children and young people in the care of the state and how to support empathic relationship building for children and young people in care, and leaving care. It will explore the key themes and ideas in respect of the care system currently, particularly those of the MacAlister Review, and analyse whether they are likely to provide the basis for an improved care system in the 2020s or not. It will consider where there are ongoing gaps and weaknesses in service provision and the kinds of policy and practice that might address these. It explores a central question – are the recommendations of the Review likely to have a positive impact on the lives and life chances of children and young people in care?

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This chapter locates the MacAlister Review’s calls for a reset of the children’s social care system in England within the policy reform agenda of the last 25 years in the UK. It situates the MacAlister Review’s welcome emphasis on better supporting birth family care within a broader analytical framework grounded in Fox Harding’s analysis of values positions in child welfare and an adaptation of Stuart Hall’s notion of the ‘double shuffle’ in policy development. Drawing on insights from the chapters in this collection, it identifies the potential for the MacAlister Review to be used to move children’s services policy reform in contradictory value-orientated directions via a double shuffle. This would entail on the one hand an apparent move towards a greater family support orientation within the child welfare system undercut by further neoliberal-influenced state defunding of children’s services and/or greater deregulation and privatisation of the delivery of children’s services provision. The chapter concludes by arguing for the importance of dissent in future policy development in children’s services.

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Influenced by an intersectional and decolonial frame, this chapter identifies significant issues connected to race and children’s services in England and the gaps in their coverage in the MacAlister Review Final Report. Key issues discussed are emergent data on the racialised disparities in children’s services responses to families, the adultification of unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people, and lessons from the case of ‘Child Q’ where a 15-year-old Black girl was strip-searched by the Metropolitan Police at her school in north London in 2020. The chapter concludes with suggestions as to how these issues can be better addressed within children’s services organisations and the social work profession.

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Critical Perspectives on Children’s Services Reform
Editors: and

Over the last decade there has been a series of Government policy initiatives in respect of children’s services and social work education in England, many of which aim to de-regulate or privatise aspects of these services. Critically considering the impact of the MacAlister Review, this book explores the past, present and future of children’s services in the UK from a range of perspectives – lived, professional and academic.

This accessible guide provides a timely and incisive overview of the current children’s services reform agenda in the UK. It identifies current challenges, analyses both strengths and weaknesses in the current policy agenda and sets out alternative policy and practice directions for a system that can meet families’ needs.

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