Child Protection, Children and Their Non-Resident Fathers: An Exploratory Study Into the Expectations and Motivations of Social Workers and Non-Resident Fathers in Seeking Alternative Family Placements.
Within the field of child care social work a clear mandate exists requiring social workers to engage with fathers in the assessment process where concerns have been raised about the care of their child, whether they reside with the child or not. This is particularly the case in the pre-proceedings stage of child protection measures, where social workers are required to contact and assess all those with parental responsibility as potential alternative placements for the child. Previous studies have consistently found that a number of barriers exist between fathers and social workers throughout child protection procedures, and engagement has been positioned as either problematic or non-existent.
This presentation will firstly outline the findings of a small-scale research study that was conducted in 2014 in the north of England. The study employed both focus groups and semi-structured interviews with social workers to explore their motivations for engaging with fathers during the pre-proceedings stage. Rather than focusing on disengagement, the study explored the attributes and behaviours of non-resident fathers, which social workers felt had supported and harnessed engagement and collaboration. The presentation will also outline and present initial findings of a current PhD study at Cardiff University. The study, through narrative interviews and the use of time lines, is exploring the motivations and experiences of fathers who now have their children living with them as a result of the involvement of Social Services. The study is also collecting the experiences of the social workers involved in the assessment/placing of the children.
The focus of both studies is to move beyond discourses of ‘hard to reach’ and engage with best practice strategies to engender more effective relationships between social services and families.
The presenter is Lee Sobo-Allen who is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work in the School of Health and Community Studies at Leeds Beckett University (http://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/staff/lee-sobo-allen/).