Child Welfare Interventions: Patterns of Social Work Practice

David Hayes, Trevor Spratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Some 10 years ago one of the authors embarked on a research study examining the potential for social workers to shift from a child protection to a child welfare practice orientation (Spratt, 2000; 2001; Spratt and Callan, 2004). The research reported here develops that work; examining how social workers respond to ‘child care problems’ (CCPs). The results indicate that Northern Irish Health and Social Services Trusts (equivalent to Local Authorities in England and Wales) have responded to social policy goals to balance the protection of a lesser number of children whilst meeting the welfare needs of the greater by reducing the number of referrals designated ‘child protection investigations’ (CPIs) and increasing the number of CCPs. Closer analysis reveals, however, that a filtering system has been developed by social workers to address perceived child protection risks within CCP cases. Paradoxically, this leads to early closure of the more concerning cases, with service provision largely confined to the least concerning. The authors argue that the ways in which social workers balance social policing and supportive functions in practice may indicate possible responses to an increase in referred families anticipated within Every Child Matters (Chief Secretary to the Treasury, 2003).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1575-1597
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number8
Early online date26 Jun 2008
Publication statusPublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)


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