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Social work the ‘art of relationship’: parents’ perspectives on an intensive family support project

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date08/2012
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Journal number3
Volume17
Number of pages0
Pages368-377
Early online date19/09/11
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

From the findings of a study examining the perspective of parents using Intensive Family Support Service based in northern England, this paper examines the constituent elements required for effective relationship-based practice. Although the study is based in a single site in England, the findings are more broadly relevant, given both national and international interests in relationship-based practice in child protection. The participants in this study – parents whose children had been assessed as being ‘at the edge of care’ – were asked to comment on the intervention they had received. Analysis of parents’ interviews suggests that the service user–worker relationship was critical to their positive experience of the service. The paper provides an analysis of parents’ descriptions of ‘positive relationships’ and identifies the key themes. It then considers these findings in the
context of contemporary children and families’ social work practice.
Engaging with current debates, the paper makes reference to the impact of modernization, which has served to erode effective faceto-face work with families, given excessive ‘backroom’ demands of administration and audit. Discussion engages with an emerging emphasis on effective relationship-based practice following reports from Munro and the Social Work Reform Board. In this context, the paper concludes that the views of these families whose children are on the ‘edge of care’ offers insights into the skills required for relationship-based practice.