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Child protection and parent support: competing or synergic tasks?. Silvia Fargion University of Trento. Synergies and tensions in child protection and parent support. My presentation deals with an issue which, although deemed crucial, has hardly been addressed successfully to date:.

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child protection and parent support competing or synergic tasks

Child protection and parent support: competing or synergic tasks?

Silvia Fargion

University of Trento

synergies and tensions in child protection and parent support
Synergies and tensions in child protection and parent support.

My presentation deals with an issue which, although deemed crucial, has hardly been addressed successfully to date:

how to effectively protect children against harm while at the same time building a cooperative relation with their parents and working as far as possible in partnership with them.

slide3

This presentation:

  • places the issue in the context of two approaches to tackle child abuse and neglect.
  • locates Italy within these two frameworks
  • identifies different styles of professional social work in Italy
  • shows their connections with the two frameworks described
child protection and or child welfare
Child Protection and/or Child Welfare
  • Khoo, E.G., Hyvonen, U., Nygren, L.(2002) ‘Child Welfare or Child Protection: Uncovering Swedish and Canadian Orientation to Social Intervention in Child Maltreatment’, in Qualitative Social Work, 1:4, pp. 451-471.
  • Hearn, J., Pöso, T., Smith, C., White, S., Korpinen, J.(2004) ‘What is Child Protection? Historical and Methodological Issues in Comparative research on Lastensuojelu/Child Protection’, International Journal of Social Welfare, 13*, pp. 28-41.
  • Blunnberg, E., Pećnik, N. (2007) ‘Assessment Process in Social work with children at risk in Sweden and Croatia’, International Journal of Social Welfare, 16, pp. 231-241.
child protection and or child welfare5
Different social services for child protection and child welfare

The same agency deals with child protection and child welfare

Child Protection and/or Child Welfare
child protection and or child welfare6
Child Protection and/or Child Welfare

Best interests of the child are narrowly focussed on protection

Best interests of the child are broadly defined to include the welfare of the family

Law-led rather than discretion-led

Discretion-based

child protection and or child welfare7
Child Protection and/or Child Welfare

Assessment based on standardised tools

Assessment based on interaction between family and social workers

Aims at objective evaluations

Acknowledges different perspectives

child protection and or child welfare8
Child Protection and/or Child Welfare

Centred on difficulties and problems

Considers difficulties and resources

Treats difficulties as signals of risk

Seeks to understand difficulties in order to find ways to provide support

child protection and or child welfare9
Child Protection and/or Child Welfare

Restricts professionals’ discretionary powers

Enhances professional strength

Less readiness to intervene

Individual rather than community oriented

Remedial rather than preventive

More readiness to intervene

Community oriented

Preventive rather than remedial

where does italy stand
Where does Italy stand?
  • Social services are organized by regional and local authorities but funded by the state.
  • Children services are managed by partnerships of local welfare agencies, national health service units and ministry of law units.
where does italy stand11
Where does Italy stand?
  • Child protection and child welfare interventions are responsibility of the same social work unit.
  • Social work units are organised in area teams, consisting mainly of social workers, responsible for a particular area of the city, where they are in charge of all social service delivery and cooperate with all the organisations voluntary and of the third sector, in the area.
where does italy stand12
Where does Italy stand?
  • Italian society has a reputation for its inclination to take care of children collectively.
  • families are probably less mobile than they are in other countries, and this results in stronger natural networks in local communities.
  • the main problem faced in Italy is connected to children living in poverty.
  • unfortunately, child abuse is quite as common as in the rest of Europe, but it is rare to hear cases of neglect or abuse to the point of death.
slide13
The law aims at promoting rights and opportunities for children and establishes a special regional fund to finance projects supporting families and the relations between parents and children.
  • Families are regarded as partners.
slide14
There has been a shift from child protection policies to child welfare policies.

But the implementation of child welfare policy poses many challenges, particularly because of scarce resources

some open questions
Some open questions:

Are social workersattuned to a child welfare approach ?

Do they have the cultural resources and frameworks to perform within a child welfare orientation?

findings from research
Findings from research

“Theories and Practices in Social Work”

PhD dissertation University of Edinburgh

Supervisors: Chris Clark and Alex Robertson

two social work cultures
Two social work cultures

The work is organized by a predefined structure

The work develops with interaction between clients and practitioners

The sequence of actions is connected by an external logic

The sequence of actions is described in terms of specific events

the rational the reflective
The rational The reflective

The understanding is based on classification of problems

The understanding is presented as dynamic and evolves with the interaction

the rational the reflective19
The rational The reflective

Problems are perceived as objective entities

Problems are defined through negotiation

Subjective views are perceived as an interference

Subjective views are perceived as relevant

the rational the reflective20
Client/practitioner relation is defined in asymmetrical terms

Client/practitioner relation is described in terms of qualitative differences

The rational The reflective
the rational the reflective21
Professional practice is connected to strategies to avoid risks and mistakes

Practice is described as a trial and error process which inevitably entails risk-taking

The rational The reflective
slide22
The first conception probably represents the most legitimate and accepted model of professional practice
  • The second culture is less known and legitimate, but it is a style of thought which confronts the uncertainty and dynamic nature of human life and reflects on the dynamic character of social work knowledge.
slide23
The first style appears to have many traits in common with a child protection orientation
  • the second style, with its broader views of the complexities of family lives, its flexibility, its positive attitude toward partnership and risk taking, looks very much the one needed for a child welfare approach
slide24
While social policy goes toward a child welfare orientation

the challenges are to

legitimise and develop the reflexive approach to social work

two final considerations
Two final considerations:
  • Social work community faces a choice on what kind of orientation or culture to endorse
  • Social work has to develop a commitment to influencing social policy