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  • Social Work Decision-Making
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Social Work Decision-Making

A Guide for Childcare Lawyers


A comprehensive guide for professionals seeking to understand the policies and procedures involved in social work practice

Paperback i

Book printed softcover

Social workers working with children and families are required to make complex and difficult decisions on a daily basis which often result in court proceedings. Social Work Decision-Making: A Guide for Childcare Lawyers is a comprehensive guide for lawyers and professionals seeking to understand the policies and procedures involved in such social work practice.
 What's new in this edition?
The book has been fully revised and updated to take account of all relevant changes to law and practice including:
  • The Laming report 2009
  • Family Procedure Rules 2010 and Practice Direction 12A
  • Public Law Proceedings Guide to Case Management 2010
  • Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010
  • Various revised volumes of Children Act 1989 guidance
  • Best practice guidance Preparing for Care and Supervision Proceedings 2010
  • Fostering and Adoption Regulations and Guidance 2010 and 2011
  • Recommendations of the Family Justice Review 2011
  • Munro Review of Child Protection 2011
The 2nd edition also includes completely new chapters relating to contact, kinship placements and special guardianship.
  • The legal framework
  • Social work in practice
  • The referral to the Local Authority
  • Local authority investigations
  • Assessment
  • Child protection planning
  • Looked-after children
  • Fostering
  • Family and friends care arrangements
  • Contact
  • Adoption
  • Special guardianship
  • Leaving care
  • Analysis
 Click here for a PDF of the full contents
“provides practitioners with a very useful road map through local authority terrain … a very useful resource for case preparation … it is invaluable”
Association of Lawyers for Children

 “a useful guide”

“useful … well worth it”
 Professional Social Work

“a valuable reference … extremely accessible”

Student Law Journal

"If you're a child care lawyer, your professional activity will inevitably invole liaison with and contact with social workers. This excellent book will help you understand the role and practice of the social worker ... clear and very readable volume ... extensive research resources ... meticulous footnotingand table of cases, statues and statutory instruments, plus a detailed index ... this book can certainly provide invaluable assistance to you in your day to day practice"
 To read the review in full click here
 Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

"Just had Social Work Decision-Making delivered: An incredibly helpful resource for any lawyer with a care practice"
We pondered long and hard about how to introduce the second edition of this book. We wondered whether in fact it would be easier to say what it’s not. It’s not a book to be read straight through from cover to cover. It’s not the sort of book to take with you on holiday. It’s not the kind of thing you would want to read in bed.
 However, to start a book by drawing attention to the negatives is a big professional no no.

 In the same way, it would be unprofessional for a social worker to start by identifying the negatives in the families with whom they work. In good social work practice there should be no negatives. Families have strengths, as we all do. Families also face challenges – poverty, inequality, addiction, violence and so on. Best practice for social workers assessing and working with families aims to work with them to overcome such challenges.

 The first edition of this book grew out of increasing requests to both of us, during training courses and at court, to explain issues in social work practice to people who were unfamiliar with some of the principles, procedures and terminology regularly used by social workers. Those questions were about the intricacies and procedural conundrums relating to social work, as well as the broader issues. The first edition of the book aimed to be a manual to help lawyers understand the social work witness, to make sense of what they are supposed to do, and to understand how social workers should think, plan, assess, analyse and make decisions about children and their families.

 The second edition is written following 4 years of considerable legal, social and political change. Social workers are subject to greater pressure than ever before which inevitably affects the preparation, planning and presentation of their work. Lawyers are faced with an ever-increasing raft of legislation, guidance and good practice documents relating to social work. This rapidly changing context shows no sign of slowing down. Understanding social work terminology, procedure and practice remains a key element of the childcare lawyer’s toolkit.

 So the book remains a reference book, a manual, for you to dip into whenever you need to prepare for a case. While we hope it continues to demystify the inner workings of social work practice, we would only recommend taking it to bed or to the pool at your peril.

 The law is as stated at 1 January 2012.
 Carmel Shepherd
  Elizabeth Isaacs

 March 2012
The authors of this valuable book have used the experience and insight that they collectively have into the overlapping realms of social work and childcare law to produce a clear and accessible guide for lawyers into the professional world of the local authority social worker. Collected within this volume, seasoned children’s lawyers will find an explanation for, and a route map through, many of the ‘best practice guidance’, local authority circulars and public inquiry reports which, I suspect, exist in an unfocussed way on the edges of the lawyer’s radar screen. This material is catalogued, explained and put into context in order to assist lawyers in understanding what they, and the courts, may expect from social work professionals.

This work is, however, much more than that, containing, as it does, a comprehensive description of the structures and processes within a social services children’s department. The aim, which is certainly achieved, is to inform the lawyer (both experienced and novice) so that he or she may better understand the work of the social worker and their role in an ongoing case.

This Second Edition is timed so that it includes reference to the new court rules, central government guidance and regulations, together with the recommendations of both the Munro Review of Child Protection and the Family Justice Review. There is much within these pages that will be of use, but I suspect that the most thumbed section will be that on how to analyse social services decision-making. Positive and productive use of this work is likely to improve the professional practice of both the lawyers and the social workers who appear in childcare proceedings.
 Andrew McFarlane
 March 2012

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