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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

19 AUG 2009

Organisational Change: Good Practice and Black Minority Ethnic Families

Dr Beverley Prevatt Goldstein, Social Work Consultant and Academic

This article describes the measures likely to facilitate good practice and to overcome the hurdles to good practice which have been highlighted in B Prevatt Goldstein, 'Barriers to good practice with black minority ethnic families' [2009] Fam Law 708. Through research based on 34 interviews with service users, 26 interviews with practitioners, five focus group discussions and analysis of 92 reports, good practice with the 'race' and culture of black minority ethnic (black) families has been identified as respectfully engaging with service users; entering into a dialogue with each service user on his individual culture and that of the profession; and addressing racism and other oppressions appropriately while recognising diverse experiences and strengths. Respectfully engaging was recommended by almost all service users and strongly co-related with satisfaction with the service; a dialogue on culture with service users is needed to reduce the stereotypes of practitioners and service users, as found in this research, and to enable practitioners to attend to the aspects of culture individual service users prioritise; and anti-racism is required as while racism was evident, minimal attention to anti-racism was evidenced (B Prevatt Goldstein 'Why we should listen: A model of good practice in working with black minority ethnic families' (2009) 19(1) Seen and Heard 42).

The hurdles to good practice by practitioners, as described in the earlier article (above) were the service users' and practitioners' negative cultural stereotyping and minimisation of the significance of 'race' and culture, the complexity of addressing 'race' and culture and the limited time and restricted role allocated to the practitioners. These hurdles were reinforced by the negative cultural stereotyping, ambivalence towards the cultures of black minority ethnic people and towards focusing on anti-racism and the time pressured and target-driven culture of wider society. These hurdles impacted upon the practice identified in the research and only eight of the 34 service users considered their culture had been considered by the practitioner, only one service user that issues of racism had been considered by the practitioner and 14 service users said that they had experienced racism or negative cultural stereotypes. However, the research also found good practice and this is a useful starting point for exploring the measures that can facilitate good practice.

To read the rest of this article, see September [2009] Family Law journal.

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