Child Protection Work and Family Support Practice in Five Family Centres

Trevor Spratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Academic interest in the work of family centres in the United Kingdom has largely been concerned with categorising the work of such centres in terms of issues of childcare ideology, working practices and degree of service user control. Meanwhile, the re-focusing of child protection services in order to develop child welfare services has largely dominated childcare social work in recent years, with scant attention paid to the role of family centres in relation to this debate. This study is concerned with examining the perspectives of staff and service users in five 'client focussed' family centres in Northern Ireland in relation to how child protection issues are understood and dealt with. It was found that staff enter into negotiations with both referrers and service users to conceptually reframe child protection work as family support practice. This leads to the development of partnership relationships between staff and service users based upon mutual high regard. The work of such centres leaves them well placed to provide integrated services to children in need in line with current government priorities, but could leave some children vulnerable where child protection issues are not amenable to conceptual reframing along family support lines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-30
Number of pages13
JournalChild Care in Practice
Volume9 (1)
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


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