Family Support as Reflective Practice

Family Support as Reflective Practice

Family Support as Reflective Practice

Family Support as Reflective Practice

Synopsis

Family support is an increasingly important strategic approach to welfare services for children and families. This invaluable resource for all professionals engaged in the development and delivery of these services is underpinned by reflective practice values and structured around four themes: conceptual frameworks and vocabulary (defining); policy and organisational structures and processing (planning); tools for creative practice (doing); approaches to evaluation (measuring). Contributors from around the world provide international perspectives on core issues in family support. These include the importance of community, the role of statutory and voluntary agencies, youth advocacy, culturally appropriate family support, child protection, disability services and effective means of evaluation. Providing a combination of clear theoretical frameworks and practical guidance, with clear 'how to' messages and a strong emphasis on evaluation, this book will be of interest to social workers, care staff, teachers, community development and police officers, students, policy-makers, evaluators and all those working in all areas of family support.

Excerpt

This collection, edited by three highly respected figures in the field of child welfare, offers important food for thought in relation to a very important, but often neglected field of study and practice. Family support, often overshadowed by child protection on one side and the post-Waterhouse emphasis on good practice in residential child care on the other, is a subject worthy of detailed and extensive consideration in its own right. This important book makes a significant contribution to that end.

With chapters on a variety of themes, the book offers readers no shortage of insights and stimulating reflections on difference aspects of family support. As such, this book makes an important contribution to taking forward our thinking and thus having a platform from which to develop policy and practice.

The earlier work of this editorial team (Canavan et al., 2000) argued that family support needed to find direction. Both books, this one and its predecessor, help take matters forward in this regard. the emphasis on establishing clarity and focus is one I especially welcome, as I have been concerned for some time that the pressures involved in child welfare work, combined with the complexities arising from various policy initiatives in a fast-changing political context, can lead to immense uncertainty, confusion and disorientation. Too often, in my view, the result is practices that lack direction, clarity and focus.

This is not necessarily a criticism of individual practitioners, but rather a recognition that unclear and unrealistic expectations of staff can be very counterproductive and undermining of good practice. This book, I am delighted to say, will be very helpful in establishing some of the clarity needed.

I particularly welcome the book’s emphasis on reflective practice. in recent years there have been various steps that can be seen to increase the procedural elements of child and family welfare and thus undermine professional autonomy. However, given the complexities of the work, there will always be a role for professional assessment and decision making – and reflective practice is an essential part of developing good practice in that area. Non-reflective, uncritical approaches to such a complex and constantly changing set of circumstances are dangerous in the extreme. the editors and authors are therefore to be congratulated on an excellent contribution to promoting a critically reflective approach to family support.

Dr Neil Thompson Avenue Consulting Ltd

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