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The voice of the child in social work practice: A phenomenological analysis of practitioner interpretation and experience

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
Article number106905
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/05/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Children and Youth Services Review
Number of pages7
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date3/03/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Child protection policy, legislation and frameworks in England are informed by the need to consider the child’s voice in any decision-making forum. However, defining the child’s voice and applying these legislative requirements to practice is largely interpretative. There is a lack of practice guidance when it comes to conceptualising, capturing, and interpreting the child’s voice to inform decision-making. This study was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and begins to explore social workers’ experiences of how the child’s voice is understood and interpreted in child protection practice. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five practitioners from a long-term, child protection team, and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Three super-ordinate themes were identified relating to (1) the ubiquity and ambiguity of the child’s voice, (2) the importance of relationships, and (3) the weight of the voices. Implications for practice include the need for more investment in practitioner-child relationships, and greater representation of the child’s voice in the final stages of needs assessments