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

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Child and Family Social Work
Issue number3
Number of pages0
Pages (from-to)368-377
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date19/09/11
<mark>Original language</mark>English


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.