The 1970s heralded the beginnings of a major shift in focus within child care social work in the United Kingdom, and the preventive, family support approach that had characterised practice since the 1940s was gradually, but decisively, replaced by a central concern with child abuse. This paper outlines the rise and dominance of child protection work in the United Kingdom before moving on to consider the legislative attempt, via the Children Act 1989 in England and Wales and the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, to address this situation. The “refocusing debate” of the 1990s is then discussed and consideration given to local research that has called the central premise underpinning this debate into question. The paper concludes by suggesting that social workers in Northern Ireland are still struggling to shift away from a preoccupation with the identification and management of risk and poses some questions regarding the future of social work with children and families.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Health(social science)
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Community and Home Care