Social Work Now, Issue 38, pages 21-28.
Statutory child protection work is often viewed as the sharp end of social work practice, located in a turbulent environment characterised by continuous change, complex case dynamics and scarce resources. Working in such a demanding context can be fraught with anxiety, tension and stress for both practitioners and managers. It requires workers to be resilient and resourceful in order to maintain a practice approach that empowers vulnerable families to utilise their strengths and resources, and to make safe decisions for their children. Critical to this process is the way practitioners engage with vulnerable families to create relationships and conditions that facilitate change in human systems.
This article describes the importance of how we approach and respond to children, young people and families, and explains the importance of practice depth. Organisational factors can impact on practice depth and we therefore pay particular attention to this. Strengths based practice and professional supervision provide opportunities to mitigate against these influences, supporting practice that is engaging, respectful and focused on the safety of children and young people.