Recent policy initiatives in early childhood and the challenges for the social work profession

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The Labour Government in the UK has announced, as part of its launch of The Children's Plan, that it 'wants to make this country the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up' in. This latest Plan is further evidence of the surge of interest that there has been in children (and, in particular, early childhood) over the last ten years in the UK and indeed elsewhere. Many of the recent policy and practice initiatives have implications for social workers working with young children. Yet, social work as a profession, in comparison with education, has remained relatively silent on these initiatives and it is hard to find any critical analysis of these developments in terms of either their underlying discourses or their implications for social workers. This article sets out to address these gaps by providing a critical analysis of: what types of knowledge regarding the early years have gained political currency; why and how this is the case; and what the implications are for the role and practices of social workers. The article proposes that discourses of 'need' and 'provision' mask more powerful discourses of economics, social control and risk avoidance, and it concludes by advocating more critically reflexive social work practice with young children and their families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1235-1255
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number7
Early online date15 Apr 2008
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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