Social Action with Children and Families: A Community Development Approach to Child and Family Welfare

By Chris Warren; Crescy Cannan | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Mapping the future?

A contribution from community social work in the community care field

Peter Durrant

AN INTRODUCTION

This chapter aims to identify a range of contemporary practice examples which enable all of us to think more carefully about the style and nature of our intervention. Social work in the 1990s is in a poor state of health. Field, residential, day and support services have accepted a largely passive role, allowing crude top-down management structures to dictate the rules of the game. Grassroots practice has, to its discredit, generally colluded as local authorities and the independent sector have both moved too easily and even eagerly into naive purchaser-provider divisions. There has been little inclination for the thorough and related implementation of two major pieces of welfare law, the consequences of which have simply not been thought through. So the 1989 Children and the 1990 National Health Service and Community Care Acts are left somewhat in limbo.

What seems to be happening is that the momentum of change has effectively eliminated any discussion about the rationale of change. Social work, at a fragile time in its search for professional status, has been left adrift and vulnerable to attack by less well-established groups. This may well, however, be to its long-term advantage since unless we can think on our feet we have little to offer. Perhaps a more intelligent response is to understand what is happening historically and then, consciously and openly, to identify our values and strategies as a contribution to a fairer society. We could then tease out from our outdated referral systems a more connected and operational way of working against the ever-present patterns of problems and, as Watts (1991:215) has argued, follow ‘in the tradition of Section 132 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act…in advocating a role for social work beyond that of client counselling and service provision’. Community social work recognises that the bulk of care, supervision and control in the community

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