How Social Workers Assess Parental Capacity to Change

Dendy Platt examines the potential for the C-Change approach

Dendy Platt is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work, and Head of the Children and Families Research Centre, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol.

Dendy Platt is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work, and Head of the Children and Families Research Centre, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol.

Social workers’ assessments of parental capacity to change are becoming increasingly important when working with children in need and children who may be at risk of maltreatment.  Expectations from the courts regarding care proceedings in England have increased in the last couple of years, focusing particularly on better analysis in social work assessments, and better exploration of alternative courses of action for the child in question.  Assessing the likelihood of a parent being able to make sufficient changes in their lives to ensure the child’s safety and wellbeing is a part of this analysis.  And capacity to change is now included in the court report template from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services – requiring assessment of whether a parental capability gap can be bridged (http://adcs.org.uk/care/article/SWET).

Continue reading

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Abuse in Ambridge

Dr Emma Williamson, Senior Research Fellow in The Centre for Gender and Violence Research, School for Policy Studies, discusses how the recent storyline in The Archers highlights the often silent issue of coercive control and its effect on victims/survivors.

I have to admit that I don’t normally listen to The Archers. And people don’t normally talk to me about the story lines. That all changed when the long running series began a story over 18 months ago which looked at the issue of domestic violence and coercive control. One of the most difficult things that victims/survivors of abuse tell us, and have consistently told us since the first women’s refuges in the 1970’s, is that it is the non-physical abuse they experience which is the most difficult to deal with [Williamson, 2000]. The bruises and other injuries victims suffer from physical abuse are visible. They are evidence to other people but also to oneself. There it is in black and blue. What is more difficult to prove and believe, is that someone who purports to love and care for you would bully, undermine, and manipulate you. The women I spoke too after the fact would either say, ‘how could someone treat me like that?’ or more often than not, ‘how could I let someone treat me like that?’ – still blaming themselves.

As the Archers storyline shows, this type of abuse is characteristic of a pattern of ‘low level’ abusive behaviours rather than the explosive incident people tend to think about when they consider ‘a domestic’. It involves small everyday things which result in people staying away, isolating victims from their family, friends, and networks of support. Recent research from Bristol has documented the massive impact of such abuse on friends and family [Gregory et al, 2016], as well as the evidence we know about the impact on victims [Mullender et al, 2005], their children [Mullender et al, 2002], and perpetrators themselves [Hester et al, 2015]. Doctors, the police, courts, social services, all tend to think of interventions in terms of those single incidents which means that the on-going manipulation of victims goes unnoticed.

Continue reading

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Measuring Poverty and Living Standards

Tessa Coombes - Social Policy PhD student

Tessa Coombes – Social Policy PhD student

There’s an interesting debate that’s been going on for some time now about measuring poverty and getting the issue onto the agenda so people sit up and take notice in the right way. It’s an area of academia that I haven’t really engaged in before, but one where I have a personal interest in seeking to see the debate move in the right kind of direction. A direction that takes us away from the concept of demonising the poor and those living in poverty and instead acknowledges the levels of inequality and seeks to do something about it in a way that benefits those most in need. The recent Policy & Politics conference in Bristol had inequality and poverty as one of its main themes and at the time I wrote a couple of blogs on the plenary sessions – the human cost of inequality (Kate Pickett) and why social inequality persists (Danny Dorlling). Both these presentations provided plenty of evidence to illustrate just how significant a problem we have in the UK and how it is getting worse.

Last week I went to a seminar on this very issue run by the Centre for the Study of Poverty and Social Justice at the University of Bristol, where the subject of debate was about how to gain traction and create change from academic research and evidence. The focus of the discussion was about using living standards rather than poverty indicators and the difference this can make when trying to attract the attention of politicians and policy makers. It was an interesting and thought provoking debate which gave some pointers on how we can translate measures and indicators into policy and action, as well as why it’s helpful to look at living standards for everyone rather than just looking at those in poverty.

Continue reading

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Food for thought for Father’s Day

Dr Esther Dermott, Reader in Sociology

Dr Esther Dermott, Reader in Sociology

From personalised beer to racing driver experiences – a full range of gender stereotypical presents are available branded as perfect for Father’s Day. So, it might be tempting to see the growth of Father’s Day in the UK (June 21st this year) as little more than another marketing opportunity; one that doesn’t say much about everyday fathering and certainly doesn’t give the impression that we have radically changed our ideas about fathers.

“men who are doing things differently have a higher profile”

Looking back over the last 40 years of research on fatherhood, there is evidence that things are different now. We can point out generational shifts in how men ‘do’ fatherhood; dads have substantially increased the amount of time they spend with their children and almost all now attend births and take time off work when a baby is born. It is also the case that men who are doing things differently have a higher profile, witness for example of blogs of stay-at-home dads and single fathers. And these changes are reflected (to some extent) in policy as well. In April 2015, shared parental leave was introduced in the UK, signalling the possibility of greater father involvement in the immediate post-birth period. It also ensured that fathers have the right to time off work to attend antenatal appointments.

Continue reading

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

CIPOLD and the power of stories

Anna Marriott, Research Fellow, Norah Fry Research Centre, School for Policy Studies

Anna Marriott, Research Fellow, Norah Fry Research Centre, School for Policy Studies

Howard Gardner, a psychology professor at Harvard University, claims that stories are the most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal. He argues that social scientists have finally caught up with political, religious and military leaders and now realise the power of narratives.

In March 2013 the Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities (CIPOLD) reported its findings to the Department of Health. These were launched at a national conference and since then we have disseminated the findings in a wide variety of ways. It has become evident to me that all the audiences to whom I have spoken respond better to the stories I tell, as opposed to the facts and figures I present.

We learn through stories, they help us to understand issues and they make events and lessons memorable. They have power as they print a picture on peoples’ minds. If you want someone to learn and hopefully to change their behaviour, tell a story that will strike a chord. Stories stay with you because they involve people and how they deal with real life problems and situations.

Continue reading

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Who cares about the Spending Review?

Hardeep Aiden

Hardeep Aiden, School for Policy Studies

The announcements made by the Treasury in the June 2013 Spending Review could have a profound impact on the welfare state for years to come. Not least affected will be the adult social care system, which supports over a million disabled adults and older people across the country. For adult social care, one major decision has just been settled and another is expected soon: how the care system will be funded going forward and who’ll be able to access it.

For far too long social care has been a Cinderella service: under-funded and under-loved. Has anything changed?

Continue reading

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page