MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Journal of Social Work

Impact factor: 1.233 Print ISSN: 1468-0173 Publisher: Sage Publications

Subject: Social Work

Most recent papers:

  • Public housing tenants perspective on residential environment and positive well-being: An empowerment-based Photovoice study and its implications for social work.
    Houle, J., Coulombe, S., Radziszewski, S., Boileau, G., Morin, P., Leloup, X., Bohemier, H., Robert, S.
    Journal of Social Work. November 25, 2016

    Although tenants of public housing face numerous challenges, recent research suggests they can experience positive well-being. The study examines a group of tenants’ perspective on structures of their residential environment that influence their positive well-being, using the empowerment-based Photovoice method. Ten peer-researchers took pictures, participated in facilitated group discussions, and performed a thematic analysis. The study presents themes emerging from the pictures, as well as concrete outcomes of implementing such a method in a public housing setting.


    Six themes emerged from the pictures taken: (1) a pleasant home, inspiring pride; (2) variety of local resources; (3) mutual support and social participation; (4) control over life situations; (5) social, leisure and growth opportunities; (6) beneficial access to nature. The findings reveal the nuances of tenants’ relationships with their residential environment, which has the potential to support their emotional, psychological, and social well-being. However, several needs for improvement were also identified, as well as avenues for tenants to take more power over these negative situations. The Photovoice method appears to have produced positive outcomes in terms of environmental improvement and tenant empowerment.


    The study suggests social workers should bear in mind the multifaceted person–environment relationship of the people they work with. It also emphasizes that public housing tenants can play an active role in making their environment a place where they can flourish. The Photovoice method is highlighted as a useful tool for social work community practitioners to support tenant empowerment.

    November 25, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316679906   open full text
  • Social work students as community partners in a family intervention programme.
    Hafford-Letchfield, T., Thomas, B., McDonald, L.
    Journal of Social Work. July 06, 2016

    This paper describes the findings from the evaluation of a UK initiative which engaged social work students as community partners within an educational-based family intervention programme. Fourteen social work students in the first year of a BA (Hons) were placed in the programme to meet the volunteering requirements of their ‘Community Project’. By engaging with the community-based family programme at an early stage in their education, students experienced the benefits of interventions, focussing on sustainability, citizenship and parent participation. We describe the approach and discuss the evaluation outcomes to illustrate the potential of utilising co-learning with families in social work education. In taking up the role of community partners, students observed first-hand the value of incorporating horizontal relationships into their learning and experienced direct knowledge exchange with service users at an early stage in their training.


    The findings suggest that this experience enabled students to connect with conceptualisations of macro alongside micro practice in their professional development as social workers. Further, connecting critical social theories with the direct experience of families promoted the learners own empowerment and conscientisation.


    This provided a means of embedding social work values and aspirations towards social justice in their future practice orientation.

    July 06, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316657317   open full text
  • Establishing working relationships in online social work.
    van de Luitgaarden, G., van der Tier, M.
    Journal of Social Work. July 01, 2016

    This article reports on an empirical case study into the process of establishing a working relationship between social workers and service users in an online social work service. Workers were using an online chat application to interact with young people, who sought professional help for various types of psychosocial problems. Two chat conversations and one interview of each of five research participants were analysed in terms of the way in which the working relationship between the service user and the online social worker was established. Thus, a total of 10 chat conversations and five interviews were included in this study.


    Subjects were shown to be particularly focused on the process of addressing the issues with which the service users were trying to cope. As a consequence, limited effort was observed with regard to shaping the working relationship in such a way that the service user gained control over the course of the conversation.


    As the medium influences the process of establishing a positive working relationship, it is argued that the worker should be able to understand the implications for the manner in which online conversations are conducted. Social work education is called upon to facilitate the acquiring of the knowledge and skills needed for such. It is suggested that more research into service users’ expectations regarding the working relationship within online social work could provide additional insights for the further improvement of these types of services.

    July 01, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654347   open full text
  • Shadows from the past: The mothering experience of women survivors of maternal suicide.
    Leichtentritt, R. D., Leichtentritt, J., Mahat Shamir, M.
    Journal of Social Work. June 30, 2016

    Raising children, while challenging in the best of times, can be more complicated for a woman who lost her own mother during her childhood/adolescent years. This study examines the long-term impact of maternal suicide as evident in the mothering experiences of 12 Israeli women.


    The participants’ descriptions reveal a constant Sisyphean struggle to move away from their legacy only to be pulled back—a fervent wish to be different from their mothers along with the simultaneous realization that they cannot escape their past. This continuing struggle is captured through four themes: (a) being a mother long before having children, (b) the past casting a pall over the present, (c) mothering as a means of fixing what is broken, and (d) the lack of a maternal model: an irrevocable absence.


    The results of this study are discussed from an emotional socialization perspective which points to the relevance of two theoretical perspectives: the modeling and the compensation views of emotional socialization in the participants’ mothering experiences. These views can help social workers both to understand and to attend to the distinctive difficulties of mothers who have survived the suicide of their own mothers.

    June 30, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316656091   open full text
  • Interpersonal interactions, workplace violence, and occupational health outcomes among social workers.
    Shier, M. L., Graham, J. R., Nicholas, D.
    Journal of Social Work. June 29, 2016

    Primary emphasis within the literature on mechanisms to address the prevalence of negative occupational well-being outcomes among human service workers has tended to focus on individual self-care efforts or organizational level policies aimed at improving work–life balance. While these are important areas of research, the workplace setting itself can also create negative outcomes, suggesting the need to adapt characteristics of this setting. One aspect of this workplace setting includes the dynamics of interpersonal interaction within the workplace. This study reports a multivariate analysis of the relationship between negative workplace interpersonal interactions (generally defined to provide a more holistic assessment of ways in which violence is manifested in the workplace) between workers and service users and between workers themselves and human service worker occupational outcomes.


    In 2012, data were collected from a sample (n = 674) of human service workers in Alberta, Canada. This study finds a high prevalence of negative workplace interactions between workers, and that these experiences have consequences for worker experience’s with burnout and life satisfaction, and contributes to intentions to leave the workplace. Compounding negative interpersonal interactions between workers are particularly significant across all measured occupational outcomes.


    These findings suggest the need for a workplace ‘settings-based’ approach to improve occupational well-being among workers. Utilizing a workplace ‘settings-based’ approach would place more emphasis on the processes and structure of day-to-day work within organizations to help alleviate negative occupational outcomes among workers.

    June 29, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316656089   open full text
  • The family in the view of Israeli adolescents in foster care.
    Mahat-Shamir, M., Davidson Arad, B., Shilo, G., Adler, R., Leichtentritt, R. D.
    Journal of Social Work. June 29, 2016

    This qualitative study explores the unique views about the family system held by adolescents who have spent years in foster care in Israel. This inductive study is among the few to address the unheard views held, and the salient challenges faced, by adolescents who have not grown up in their biological parents’ home, with a focus on their view of the family.


    Participants’ demonstrated conflicting, polarizing perceptions of the family: (a) family is a genetic system: blood is thicker than water; (b) the family system is constructed and limited by terminology; and (c) communication is essential to family life.


    While the first two themes highlighted the participants’ family of origin as their "true family" the last theme emphasized on the foster family as their "true" family system. Synthesis between these views could not be achieved as informants embraced the social expectation perceiving the family as one. Raising social and professional awareness about the difficulties these young people face partly because of an exclusive social view of the family lies in the sphere of interest and the social work professional expertise.

    June 29, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316656092   open full text
  • Methodological reflections on research with street youth.
    Karabanow, J., Kidd, S., Frederick, T., McLuckie, A., Quick, J.
    Journal of Social Work. June 27, 2016

    This paper examines both the epistemological and practical limitations and challenges of data collection by reflecting on the experiences of a team of both junior and senior researchers engaged in such a longitudinal study.


    This paper argues that longitudinal research with street youth challenges the boundaries and limits of the formal constructs of research and ethics that typically guide qualitative research by grappling with field issues such as navigating reciprocity, risk and authenticity within relationships with a vulnerable group.


    This paper calls for an explicit acknowledgement of the challenges researching populations such as street youth over time in our research ethics guidelines and encourages researchers to engage in dialogue leading to more reflective, transparent and accountable framing of how we collect data in the field with vulnerable youth populations.

    June 27, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316656145   open full text
  • A case study of a grassroots truth and reconciliation commission from a community practice perspective.
    Androff, D.
    Journal of Social Work. June 24, 2016

    Truth and Reconciliation Commissions represent an innovative model for social work practice. The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a community-based intervention that sought to address lingering social trauma and tension from a 1979 incident of racial violence in North Carolina. This case study analyzes the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission from a community practice perspective by highlighting relevant aspects of the intervention for social work practice. The intervention is examined along the community practice dimensions of context, theoretical basis, practice model, framing, strategy, and tactics. Each dimension is presented and related to a specific aspect of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission case.


    The historical context of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission includes legacies racism, labor exploitation, and violence that was pervasive in the U.S. south, as well as traditions of resistance to oppression. The theoretical underpinnings of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission include social constructionism and restorative justice. The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission falls within the community practice models of neighborhood and community organizing and community capacity development. The intervention was framed as a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and incorporated a strategy of inclusiveness. The community practice tactics of fundraising, outreach and recruitment, research and investigation, and public hearings were employed.


    This article concludes with assessments of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s impact and implications for community practice, including current applications of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission model in the U.S. Social workers working in communities can apply the Truth and Reconciliation Commission model and the specific community practice dimensions identified in the case study to empower communities and work to overcome legacies of social injustice, violence, and oppression.

    June 24, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654361   open full text
  • Supporting parents in late modernity through parent education: A mixed-methods study in Hong Kong.
    To, S.-m., So, Y.-y., Tsoi, K.-w., Iu Kan, S.-m., Chan, T.-s.
    Journal of Social Work. June 24, 2016

    While the increasing awareness of risk in late modernity has resulted in the proliferation and complication of parental roles and choices, few attempts have been made to explore how parent education can empower parents to reconstruct parenthood and transform parental lives. Based on the results of a mixed-methods study conducted in Hong Kong, this article discusses the possible outcomes and experiences of a parent education program that aimed to facilitate parents’ holistic growth in dealing with the prevailing culture of intensive parenting. The program was composed of 30 h of seminars and workshops. The participants included 387 Hong Kong Chinese parents recruited from seven primary schools and 27 nursery schools. A pretest–posttest assessment survey and postintervention focus groups were adopted for the evaluation methods.


    The quantitative results showed that the participants experienced an enhancement in confidence, understanding, and trust in parenting. The qualitative findings indicated that the program helped the participants reflect upon the meaning of parenthood, underline the gains and accomplishments of parenting, and adjust parental expectations. They could also foster parent–child relationships in accordance with their children’s developmental needs, uniqueness, and emotions. As a result, these parents were more ready to face the challenges of the anxious parenting culture.


    The findings support the reconceptualization of parent education as a reflexive practice. Such practice can unleash parents’ capacity to construct knowledge from their lived experiences and reconstitute their reflexive and emotional selves to negotiate life choices among the diversity of options in childrearing.

    June 24, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316656090   open full text
  • Cultural competence and cultural humility: A critical reflection on key cultural diversity concepts.
    Danso, R.
    Journal of Social Work. June 22, 2016

    Cultural competence has commanded respectable attention since its introduction in cross-cultural discourse. Cultural competence has been presented as a framework capable of promoting culturally sensitive practice and for training cross-cultural workers. However, a smorgasbord of definitions and conceptualizations has generated intense controversy around the construct, with many questioning its relevance or ability to address structural problems. Disenchantment has led to calls to jettison and replace cultural competence with cultural humility. This paper presents a critical reflection on cultural competence and cultural humility, including critiquing the critiques of cultural competence.


    A critically reflective analysis suggests that semantic appeal does not necessarily give cultural humility a utilitarian edge over the construct it seeks to supplant. Cultural humility appears not to add more value to social work practice than cultural competence. From a social work perspective, cultural humility is essentially a repackaging of anti-oppressive practice; the fundamental ideas underpinning cultural humility have previously been developed and are foundational principles of anti-oppressive social work practice and education. Critical analysis also reveals that many of the critiques of cultural competence lack analytical rigour.


    Deep-level theoretical analyses can lead to innovative perspectives that allow for critical re-examination of extant methodological approaches and promote culturally empowering social work practices in our super-diverse, postmodern world. Rather than dismissing long-standing, potentially effective theoretical and practice tools with happy abandon, adapting them in light of current developments would help move social work to a new, enlightened level of relevance in working with diversity and difference.

    June 22, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654341   open full text
  • Hidden challenges: Sex offenders legislated into homelessness.
    Levenson, J. S.
    Journal of Social Work. June 22, 2016

    Zoning laws that prevent sex offenders from living within close proximity to schools and other places where children congregate have proliferated over the past 10 years. In many communities, few dwellings are compliant with these laws, causing sex offenders to become homeless. First, a brief history of residence restriction laws will be provided and then the research around their impact and effectiveness will be summarized, followed by empirically supported recommendations for reform.


    Legislating individuals into homelessness is not sound social policy, nor is it humane. These laws do not conform to what is known about patterns of sexual perpetration and victimization, and thus do little to prevent recidivistic sexual violence. In fact, these policies may undermine the very factors shown by research to be associated with positive reentry and reduced recidivism.


    The grand challenge of social justice requires social workers to advocate on behalf of those who are marginalized in our communities including criminal offenders. Research-based policy reform can result in improved public safety outcomes and social justice in our communities.

    June 22, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654811   open full text
  • The effect of combat experience on adult attachment: A stepfamily perspective.
    Turner, R. D., Wood, D. S., Parks, D. A., Shafer, K.
    Journal of Social Work. June 20, 2016

    Social science researchers have long examined the impact of combat experience on individual and family outcomes, but doing so within a stepfamily context has yet to be done. Drawn from a sample of young adults living in the USA, this study examines the effect of emerging adults’ combat experience on the relationship between their childhood attachment with a biological parent in a stepfamily setting and their adult attachment style with a romantic partner.


    Results of multiple regression analysis indicate that a secure parent–child relationship within a stepfamily reduces the likelihood of exhibiting more characteristics of avoidant attachment style in adulthood. However, when interacted with combat experience, a secure parent-child relationship significantly increases the likelihood of exhibiting more characteristics of avoidant attachment in adulthood.


    Results from this study advance previous research findings on the effect of wartime experience on individual outcomes by examining postcombat deployment attachment styles for individuals who were raised in a stepfamily context. Incorporating these findings into social work research and practice can help clinicians more effectively prevent service members’ maladaptive postdeployment attachment styles and treat individuals and families affected by them.

    June 20, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654344   open full text
  • Care coordination in adult social care: Exploring service characteristics within the non-statutory sector in England.
    Sutcliffe, C., Jasper, R., Hughes, J., Abendstern, M., Challis, D.
    Journal of Social Work. June 20, 2016

    As a result of national policy in respect of social care of adults in England, the non-statutory sector is increasingly more evident in the provision of care services previously undertaken by local government, including the delivery of care coordination for older people. However, little is currently known about the scope, content, or quality of services providing care coordination within this sector. This article reports the findings from a postal survey undertaken in January 2014 of non-statutory organisations in England providing care coordination services and investigates variations in their key attributes. Organisations providing care coordination services were identified using various strategies to create a database of services. Questionnaires encompassing several areas of enquiry were mailed to managers of care coordination services identified from the database.


    There was similarity in the operation of the care coordination services sampled. Many were small-scale services, contract-funded, and providing short-term support. Volunteer staff were a feature of most services. All services worked to written protocols and standards and almost all levied no charge. Many shared information with healthcare or local authority staff with user consent. Service user satisfaction was measured and used for service improvement.


    This is one of the first studies undertaken in England to investigate the provision of care coordination by the non-statutory sector and to identify patterns of variation in key service attributes. Implications for commissioners, service providers, workforce, and social workers are further discussed. The findings provide baseline data against which future developments can be measured.

    June 20, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654363   open full text
  • Staying connected with youth transitioning out of foster care: "Thank you for not giving up on me".
    Mitchell, M. B., Vann, L. H.
    Journal of Social Work. June 17, 2016

    Numerous research studies have addressed the experiences and outcomes of youth transitioning out of foster care; however, far fewer have addressed how to overcome the challenge of locating and retaining research participants from this population. This article contributes to the field by highlighting effective approaches to staying connected with (i.e., recruiting, relocating, and retaining) youth participants in longitudinal research studies. Two hundred ninety-four youth in the Southeastern United States participated in a longitudinal research study about their experiences as they transitioned out of foster care. Two years later, 80% of eligible participants from the baseline population (n = 223) chose to participate in the second wave of data collection.


    Case examples are presented to illustrate the practical applications of youth-centered and person-centered approaches to participant recruitment, relocation, and retention and how engaging with youth on a case by case basis can minimize attrition rates and maintain participant interest in the study.


    We affirm the importance of encouraging youth involvement in all phases of the research process, highlight the methodological approaches used to recruit, relocate, and retain participants, and discuss the value of establishing and maintaining meaningful connections with youth participants involved in longitudinal research.

    June 17, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654342   open full text
  • The impact of personal budgets on unpaid carers of older people.
    Woolham, J., Steils, N., Daly, G., Ritters, K.
    Journal of Social Work. June 17, 2016

    This paper focuses on the impact of a personal budget – either in the form of a direct payment or managed personal budget – on the role of unpaid carers of older budget holders. Data were collected via postal survey of 1500 unpaid carers and semi-structured interviews with 31 carers.


    Unpaid carers played a central role in supporting older budget holders irrespective of the type of budget received. The allocation of a personal budget may have decreased the amount of ‘hands-on’ care they provided, enabling them to do different things for and with the person cared for, but most did not relinquish direct involvement in care provision. Both kinds of personal budget provided greater flexibility to juggle caring tasks with other roles, such as childcare or paid employment. However, carers supporting direct payment users did experience higher levels of stress. This seemed linked to the additional responsibilities involved in administering the direct payment. Carers seemed relatively unsupported by their local Adult Social Care Department: the survey found that only one in five said they had ever received a carer assessment.


    The findings offer a detailed exploration of the impact of personal budgets on carers, suggesting that even in countries with relatively well-developed systems of support for carers such as England their impact remains overlooked. The paper may be of interest to social work practitioners, managers, academics and social work policy specialists working in countries that have, or are about to introduce, personal budgets or other forms of cash-for-care scheme.

    June 17, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654343   open full text
  • Australian social work research on ageing and aged care: A scoping review.
    Hughes, M., Bigby, C., Tilbury, C.
    Journal of Social Work. June 14, 2016

    Little is known about the quantity, nature and range of Australian social work research on ageing and aged care. This scoping review involved a comprehensive search of seven online bibliographic databases. The review identified 108 peer-reviewed journal articles, published between January 2007 and June 2014, that reported Australian social work research on ageing and aged care.


    The average number of authors per paper was 2.10 with most social work researchers co-authoring papers with non-social workers. The main topics of research focus were health and rehabilitation, elder abuse, asset management, community services and caregiving, housing and residential aged care, and ageing with an intellectual disability. The findings highlight the contribution social work researchers make to multidisciplinary gerontological research, and to understanding the lived experiences of older people and the provision of services. However, they also point to the relative paucity of research focusing on direct social work practice with older people, and the little evidence of the participation of older people and carers in the design and delivery of research.


    The findings indicate the need for capacity-building strategies, such as developing networks of Australian social work researchers on ageing and aged care, to improve research outputs in this area.

    June 14, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654346   open full text
  • Promoting change among parents involved in the child welfare system: Parents reflections on their motivations to change parenting behaviors.
    Chaviano, C. L., McWey, L. M., Lettenberger-Klein, C. G., Claridge, A. M., Wojciak, A. S., Pettigrew, H. V.
    Journal of Social Work. June 14, 2016

    Although a wealth of research exists related to children involved in the child welfare system, far less is known about parents’ experiences. Specifically, research is needed that examines the motivation for change of parents involved with the child welfare system in order to inform interventions with this at-risk population. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 33 parents court ordered to participate in a parent education group due to involvement with the child welfare system. Interviews were recorded and transcribed, and researchers used qualitative content analysis to examine parents’ motivation to change their parenting behaviors.


    Participants highlighted how patterns from their family of origin, their own identity, and their current support systems served as motivation for change in their own parenting behaviors. Results were discussed using a social cognitive theory framework.


    Clinical implications include the need to assess at-risk parents’ unique sources of motivation for change and how current parenting practices may be encouraged or modeled from others. Doing so may improve engagement and retention in interventions meant to improve family outcomes.

    June 14, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654340   open full text
  • Social worker characteristics associated with perceived meaning in life.
    Itzick, M., Kagan, M., Ben-Ezra, M.
    Journal of Social Work. June 14, 2016

    Meaning in life is an important element in the context of the workplace. The purpose of this study was to explore how certain factors, namely: subjective well-being, professional quality of life (compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue, burnout), loneliness, personal work-related subjection to violence, fear of being subjected to violence, age, parental status, and marital status can predict meaning in life among social workers in Israel. An extensive battery of online questionnaires was administered to 501 participants. A hierarchical regression analysis was used to examine the association between a series of independent variables and meaning in life among social workers.


    The findings suggest that age, subjective well-being, compassion satisfaction and fear of being personally subjected to violence were positively associated with meaning in life. However, loneliness and burnout were negatively associated with meaning in life. The other variables were not significantly associated with meaning in life.


    Social work educators and managers must consider the importance of meaning in life when developing social care curricula and policies. Social workers must be aware of the importance of enhancing their sense of meaning in life for increasing their job satisfaction as well as improving the service provided to their clients.

    June 14, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654345   open full text
  • Social work students reflections on challenges during field education.
    Rehn, M., Kalman, H.
    Journal of Social Work. June 12, 2016

    Field education is a key curriculum component in social work programmes. Students as well as researchers have identified this learning experience as central to the students’ transition to practice. This article reports on a qualitative study with the aim of analysing social work students’ narratives of their experiences during field education in order to elucidate their reasoning with regard to the challenges presented by unique clients and their contexts, along with their objectives set in the service user situation. The narratives of 23 social work students in Sweden describing a sum total of 46 problematic and unproblematic situations during field education were analysed, revealing circumstances that according to the students had either aggravated or facilitated professional action.


    The experiences of being overwhelmed by emotions and of having too much latitude in the interpretation of principles and guidelines were experienced as aggravating circumstances, whereas having knowledge of legislation and clear guidelines to follow was experienced as facilitating client interaction and as providing a sense of security with the professional role. The analysis also revealed differing levels and scope of ambition with regard to the objectives set in the service user situation.


    Our results demonstrate the importance of furthering students’ articulation of and active reflection on their interpretation of guidelines and legislation, and on their own setting of objectives specific to the individual cases and on how these objectives relate to the value base of social work.

    June 12, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654362   open full text
  • The global social work definition: Ontology, implications and challenges.
    Ornellas, A., Spolander, G., Engelbrecht, L. K.
    Journal of Social Work. June 12, 2016

    The revised global definition for social work promotes the profession’s commitment to social change and development, social cohesion and the empowerment and liberation of people. By reviewing the implications of this definitional shift and locating this within existing influential social work ontological models, the implications for social work within global and national contexts are critically reviewed.


    The changes to the global definition, along with recognition of the importance of strengthening knowledge and theory, encourage critical review of the implications of a shift from an emphasis on individual approaches to the importance of collective and macro perspectives in social work intervention. The location and exploration of these debates using existing key ontological frameworks and socio-economic contexts encourages critical reflection on the purpose, role and function of social work in society.


    Social work must critically review what it means by, along with the implications of, the profession’s commitments. The profession needs to consider how theory, its academic discipline and social work interventions support these commitments. The critical examination of ontological frameworks, indigenous knowledge and social work interventions is vital to inform social work education and practice to enable a reinvigorated profession able to address the contemporary challenges of both society and individuals.

    June 12, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316654606   open full text
  • An analysis of the psychosocial backgrounds of Youths (13-18) Who-Pose-Sexual-Risk to children.
    Williams, R., Pritchard, C.
    Journal of Social Work. June 10, 2016

    Social workers had expressed concern to their Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) about male Youths (13–18)-Who-Pose-Sexual-Risk (YWPSR) to children, leading to this study of 36 social-history protocols, completed by the youths’ social workers, that identified the presence of research-based factors of YWPSR who then go on to become adult child sex offenders. To ensure total confidentiality, no actual case-record data were available to the authors, ensuring the LSCB, social workers and their clients remain totally anonymous. While a small sample poses methodological difficulties, the authors believe the data is worthy of consideration as a pilot study for a larger project that might highlight the potential areas for early intervention.


    Key findings were: 29 (80%) of 36 YWPSR were <14 when first showing inappropriate sexual behaviour, whilst 25% were known to have been sexually abused themselves, mostly <11 years and 47% were either currently or had been, Looked-After-Children, with 42% having been Excluded-from-School of who 36% had learning difficulties. Their level of disturbance is shown by 11% having made a suicide attempt and they being formally charges for sex offences against children, which was significantly higher than that found in the adult general population. Finally 66% suffered from low self-esteem, were socially isolated and had poor peer relationships; reflected in the high level of problems at school.


    Such young people pose a challenge for all concerned and an evidence-based debate is required to explore how to prevent further unacceptable behaviour and thereby protect vulnerable children.

    June 10, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316651992   open full text
  • Allocating Personal Budgets/Grants to Carers.
    Mitchell, W., Glendinning, C.
    Journal of Social Work. June 09, 2016

    English policy and practice guidance recommends local authorities offer personal budgets to all adults eligible for social care support using transparent and equitable allocation systems which maximise choice and control for users. This includes family and other unpaid carers as carers in England are entitled to their own personal budget. The Care Act 2014 strengthens carers’ rights and places duties on authorities to assess and meet carers eligible support needs. However, little is known about how authorities assess and allocate resources to carers. This article explores this information gap drawing on data from a survey of English local authorities in two regions completed by carers lead officers and complemented by follow-up telephone interviews with a sub-sample of these officers.


    Survey and interview results demonstrate wide practice variations around how social workers assess, calculate and distribute resources to carers. There is little uniformity across authorities. Carer eligibility criteria are used but thresholds vary and are often unclear. Most grants/personal budgets are allocated as single annual payments but how the level of these grant/personal budgets are calculated varies with little standardisation.


    The article develops the evidence base surrounding resource allocation to carers through carer grants/personal budgets. Findings are timely as the Care Act 2014 will strengthen carers’ rights alongside the continuing personalisation of adult social care. Discussing local authority policy and practice around key objectives of equity, transparency and carer choice, implications for future social work practice and its development are considered in light of the Care Act 2014.

    June 09, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316651994   open full text
  • 'Voluntary and 'involuntary child welfare: Challenging the distinction.
    Po&#x0308;so&#x0308;, T., Pekkarinen, E., Helavirta, S., Laakso, R.
    Journal of Social Work. June 09, 2016

    Finnish child welfare divides care orders into voluntary and involuntary care orders, based on the consent or objection of different parties. When giving consent to a care order, the parties allow their rights to family life and self-determination to be restricted. This article examines how the voluntary care order differs in practice from the involuntary one and how voluntarism and involuntarism are represented in these two types of care order.


    The analysis of 37 care orders highlights different shades of voluntarism and involuntarism as well as formal and informal spheres of consent and objection. The binary distinction between voluntarism and involuntarism becomes problematic. Instead, new forms and arenas for consent and objection, e.g., resistance, become topical in child welfare.


    The spectrum of voluntarism and involuntarism should be recognised in every type of child welfare. The study points out several critical points in the dual decision-making system in Finland, in particular informed consent.

    June 09, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316653269   open full text
  • Career barriers for social work students in China.
    Guo, Y.
    Journal of Social Work. June 07, 2016

    The current research aimed to develop a multi-dimensional scale on the career barriers of social work undergraduates in China. In Study 1, an open-ended survey (N = 202) and group discussion (N = 6) among social work undergraduates were conducted, which generated 37 items on career barriers. Based on these items, a scale was developed in Study 2 through a survey study among another sample of Chinese undergraduates majoring in social work (N = 415).


    Results from principal component analysis revealed a three-factor structure underlying these items (attitudinal barriers, normative barriers, and control barriers). It was also found that attitudinal barriers and normative barriers served as significant predictors for satisfaction with academic major and occupational intention. Satisfaction with academic major also mediated the relations between these two types of career barriers and occupational intention. Results related to the predictive validity of control barriers were mixed.


    These findings carry both theoretical and practical implications for career education and career counseling practices. This research developed a scale on career barriers for Chinese undergraduates majoring in social work. In career counseling practice, this instrument may serve as a tool to identify individuals' specific career barriers, and may guide counselor's further intervention for clients.

    June 07, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316651996   open full text
  • Policing immigrants: Fear of deportations and perceptions of law enforcement and criminal justice.
    Becerra, D., Wagaman, M. A., Androff, D., Messing, J., Castillo, J.
    Journal of Social Work. June 07, 2016

    This study examined the relationship between the fear of deportation and perceptions of law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and the willingness to report crimes among Latinos in the US. Understanding the relationship between increased immigration enforcement and fear of deportation may promote public safety by improving the relationship between the police and Latino communities.


    Multivariate ordinal logistic regression analyses of the data found that participants who had a greater fear of deportation reported: (1) less confidence that police would not use excessive force (p < .01); (2) less confidence that police would treat Latinos fairly (p < .05); (3) a lower likelihood of reporting crimes (p < .05); and (4) less confidence that the courts would treat Latinos fairly (p < .01).


    Social work practitioners can help address this issue and improve the relationship between law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and the Latino community by: delivering cultural competence training for police and criminal justice personnel; educating Latinos about how to protect their rights when interacting with police and the criminal justice system; and by advocating for immigration reform that can help improve public safety and reduce fear in Latino communities.

    June 07, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316651995   open full text
  • "With an open heart we receive the children": Caregivers' strategies for reaching and caring for street children in Kenya.
    Kaime-Atterho&#x0308;g, W., Persson, L.-A., Ahlberg, B. M.
    Journal of Social Work. June 07, 2016

    This article describes caregivers' strategies for reaching children on the streets and caring for them at institutions of care. Data was collected over a period of two years from 70 caregivers in 35 organisations in Nairobi, Nakuru and Muranga, identified by snowball sampling strategy. Data was collected using a semi-structured topic guide based on issues emerging from earlier studies with street boys. Direct observation, video recording and photography were used to study interactions between the children and their caregivers.


    Two themes were developed: the "dedicated" caregiver confronting street realities, and making a difference despite the limitations. The way caregivers interacted with the children on the streets and in the institutions influenced the children's decision to leave the streets, to be initiated into residential care, and attend rehabilitation and reintegration programmes. Children were more positive to caregivers who took time to understand them and were soft in establishing rapport with them.


    The results suggest that caregivers' strategies are potential contributors to reversing trends in the street children phenomenon as they influence the children's decision to leave the streets and undergo rehabilitation at institutions of care. We thus recommend development of educational efforts focusing on helping caregivers develop healthy relationships and positive interactions with the children.

    June 07, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316651989   open full text
  • Adult social work and high-risk domestic violence cases.
    McLaughlin, H., Robbins, R., Bellamy, C., Banks, C., Thackray, D.
    Journal of Social Work. June 06, 2016

    This article focuses on adult social work’s response in England to high-risk domestic violence cases and the role of adult social workers in multi-agency risk and assessment conferences. The research was undertaken between 2013 and 2014 and focused on one city in England and involved the research team attending multi-agency risk and assessment conferences. Interviews with 20 adult social workers, 24 multi-agency risk and assessment conferences attendees, 14 adult service users at time T1 (including follow-up interviews after six months, T2), focus groups with independent domestic violence advocates and Women’s Aid and an interview with a Women’s Aid service user.


    The findings suggest that although adult social workers accept the need to be involved in domestic violence cases they are uncertain of what their role is and are confused with the need to operate a parallel domestic violence and adult safeguarding approach, which is further, complicated by issues of mental capacity. Multi-agency risk and assessment conferences are identified as overburdened, under-represented meetings staffed by committed managers. However, they are in danger of becoming managerial processes neglecting the service users they are meant to protect.


    The article argues for a re-engagement of adult social workers with domestic violence that has increasingly become over identified with child protection. It also raises the issue whether multi-agency risk and assessment conferences remain fit for purpose and whether they still represent the best possible response to multi-agency coordination and practice in domestic violence.

    June 06, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316653268   open full text
  • Professional socialization and commitment to the profession in social work students: A longitudinal study exploring the effect of attitudes, perception of the profession, teaching, training, and supervision.
    Freund, A., Cohen, A., Blit-Cohen, E., Dehan, N.
    Journal of Social Work. June 03, 2016

    The article attempts to characterize social work students in higher education institutes in Israel, regarding professional socialization and the development of commitment to the profession during their BA (undergraduate) studies, lasting three years. This longitudinal study included a sample of 450 students in four social work schools. Data was gathered throughout four time periods: during the first two weeks of the academic year and at the end of each academic year.


    Students, during the first academic year, harbor certain misconceptions about the profession, leading to a sharp decrease in their commitment to the profession. However, it seems that supervisors, teachers and decisionmakers in social work schools somehow manage to bring the fantasies entertained by students at the beginning of their studies into line with reality, leading to both higher and stronger commitment to the profession by the time they complete their BA degree.


    The article discusses the findings and their implications on the social work profession, in general, and on social work training, in particular, regarding the development of commitment to the profession over the years.

    June 03, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316651991   open full text
  • Research activity among UK social work academics.
    Teater, B., Lefevre, M., McLaughlin, H.
    Journal of Social Work. June 02, 2016

    The research activity of social work academics in the UK has been of interest and concern amongst academics and research funders. Multiple initiatives have been implemented to develop social work research activity, yet research by social work academics remains limited, hindered by lack of time, support infrastructures, funding and training. Through the use of a mixed-methods cross-sectional survey (N = 200) and follow-up individual interviews (N = 11), this study reports on the factors that were found to contribute to or impede the amount of time that social work academics reported spending on research.


    The results from the survey indicated that 73% of respondents were research active. Bivariate analysis revealed that academics spent less time on research and teaching, and more time on administration than expected by their employing universities. Multivariate analysis found that less time spent on administration and teaching, more university supports, and being from a pre-1992 university predicted more time spent on research.


    The findings indicate that the administrative burdens associated with teaching and assessment in social work education result in academics struggling to fit research into their busy lives, despite initiatives to raise the profile and productivity of social work research. Research support infrastructures and strategies should be reviewed in light of such findings.

    June 02, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316652002   open full text
  • Admission and completion of social work programs: Who drops out and who finishes?
    Levinger, M., Segev, E.
    Journal of Social Work. June 01, 2016

    This study explored differences between 389 Israeli students in a Social Work department who finished their studies and 120 students who began, but did not complete their degree. Three groups of variables were compared: demographic variables (gender and age), test scores (on the matriculation and psychometric exams), and assessment of participation in a group interview prior to acceptance.


    Except for gender, there were no significant differences between the students who finished their studies and those who dropped out. Among the students who completed their degree, only women, who received a higher score on the psychometric test, finished their studies with a higher grade point average. Only the men, who had a higher score on their matriculation exams, ended with a higher grade point average. The results also showed that, for the men, there was a significant positive correlation between the assessment of their performance on the interview and the final grade point average. Furthermore, there were significant correlations between the way the candidates were categorized by the interviewers and the overall assessment they received on this criterion.


    The results of this study add support to previous research that showed that gender and the scores on the matriculation and psychometric exams are connected to success in social work programs. In addition, it was found that the pre-acceptance group interview can differentiate between those candidates who will complete their studies and those who will not. These findings can hopefully help social work departments improve the procedures they use in their admissions’ mechanisms.

    June 01, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316651998   open full text
  • Re-engaging with community work as a method of practice in social work: A view from Northern Ireland.
    Das, C., ONeill, M., Pinkerton, J.
    Journal of Social Work. June 01, 2016

    This article investigates community work as a method in social work in Northern Ireland. It traces the processes that have led to the marginalisation of community work within social work practices and the complex relationship between community development and social work. Nonetheless, the welfare state is undergoing change, wherein new agendas of personalisation, service user involvement, community engagement and partnership are emerging, which are changing the occupational space of social work. We argue that this change can be an opportunity through which social work can and must re-engage with community development, particularly within the existing political arrangements and sectarian context of Northern Ireland. However, social work’s engagement in the community presents risks given its current relationship with the state and loss of trust within the Northern Irish community. We discuss these risks and further possibilities.


    The article draws from contemporary literature on the current context of community development and service provision in Northern Ireland social work’s involvement. The possibilities for community social work are explored through recent policy initiatives and the current situation of the community sector. Risks that stem from social work’s relationship with the state, and with community organisations as well as the contradiction between discourses of partnership in service delivery and the ground reality are considered.


    Our analysis suggests the need for (a) collective action by social workers through collective representation, (b) a new conceptualisation of professionalism that incorporates partnerships with other workers in the care sector and (c) education that has contemporary resonance.

    June 01, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316652117   open full text
  • ICT-supported social work interventions with youth: A critical review.
    Chan, C.
    Journal of Social Work. May 31, 2016

    In youth social work, the trend of using various forms of information and communication technology (ICT) is increasing. However, evidence showing in what ways ICT has enhanced intervention effectiveness is loosely organized. This study conducted a systematic review of ICT-supported social work interventions with youth, targeting peer-reviewed articles in 64 social work journals published between 2000 and 2014. The included studies (N = 13) were analysed with particular reference to their level of evidence, internal validity and approach to evaluating the role of ICT.


    All the included studies presented positive outcomes: 54% of them provided level-I evidence (RCTs), 15% provided level-II evidence (case–control trials without randomization) and 31% provided level-III evidence (case reports). All of them were of ‘good’ or ‘fair’ quality in terms of their internal validity. However, there were only three studies which could provide direct evidence indicating that interventions using ICT were more effective than interventions without using ICT. Most of the remainder provided indirect evidence suggesting that the use of ICT might be associated with positive intervention outcomes.


    These studies provide useful insights that help advance social work knowledge. Yet there is room for improvement in the conceptualization of ICT, and in research designs for evaluating the role of ICT.

    May 31, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316651997   open full text
  • Racial- and ethnic-sensitive practice: From the practitioners perspective.
    Hall, E. L., Rammell, K.
    Journal of Social Work. May 31, 2016

    This qualitative study supports a necessary movement that prepares future generations of social workers to come to the fullest terms of race and ethnicity to produce effective client outcomes. Participants were provided with questions centered on race and ethnicity. A three-level coding analysis was used to determine themes. All qualitative data were converted into numerical values using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences.


    Seventy-two licensed social workers participated in the study. Majority of participants were white, female, and had been in practice for four or more years. Results indicated over 50% of participants reported having different experiences when working with clients of color and over 20% reported they do not consider race a factor when working with clients of color, which increased to 39% when referring to white clients. Twenty-nine percent of participants reported having different experiences with clients who are white. Several differences between groups emerged in how clients of color and clients who are white build rapport and acknowledge culture and family.


    These findings support a need for an inclusive approach to cultural competency that involves teaching racial- and ethnic-sensitive practices to future practitioners. The results also speak to a concern of the current practitioners who are operating from a "color blind" philosophy or those who feel as if race and ethnicity are irrelevant to their work with clients. As the profession builds on the notion of embracing cultural competency, it must intentionally continue to acknowledge factors of race and ethnicity.

    May 31, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316651993   open full text
  • Predicting drug-free days among at-risk youth.
    Cheung, C.-k., Ngai, S. S.-y.
    Journal of Social Work. May 31, 2016

    Whether or not at-risk youth eschew illicit drugs because of its expected harm remains uncertain. In theory, expectancy is influential when the harm is valuable to the youth. Hence, to examine this possibility, this study employed a prospective design to collect data from 169 at-risk youths identified by social workers in Hong Kong, China.


    Results revealed that when a youth has higher expectancy and valuation of harm in the baseline survey, he/she had considerably more drug-free days in the follow-up survey. However, neither the expectancy nor valuation alone introduced an effect on drug-free days.


    These results sustained approaches to fostering the expectancy and valuation of harm for effective drug rehabilitation. Specifically, the approaches required to raise the expectancy of youth on the harm of drug abuse to their vigour and the value of sustaining their vigour simultaneously.

    May 31, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316651990   open full text
  • Delivering social work education on inquiry reports addressing harm to vulnerable people: An exploratory study.
    Houston, S., McColgan, M.
    Journal of Social Work. May 31, 2016

    This article outlines a research study examining how social work education, in relation to case reviews and inquiry reports, was structured and delivered to a range of social work students in Northern Ireland. Adopting a qualitative design, nine social work educators in the region were interviewed and asked about their approach to presenting findings from the reports to social work students and the issues this raised for the research sample. The results revealed three key themes: the salience of the organizational context; how learning was structured and organized; and the various attempts to build social work competence.


    These themes showed that the co-ordinators were delivering a complex area of knowledge. It was clear that they had given considerable thought to the essential messages from the reports even though the constraints of time and setting were apparent. Moreover, they employed a range of innovations in the way the reports were theorized and how the knowledge coming from them was disseminated. The importance of the ‘fear factor’ within students was a primary issue affecting teaching and learning strategies.


    The findings can be used as a foundation for further research into this area, looking at student feedback, the attainment of learning outcomes and, importantly, ways of enhancing teaching and learning approaches on this sensitive area. The research can also contribute to the identification of social work educators' learning needs and how to approach emotionally laden case studies of significant harm to vulnerable individuals.

    May 31, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316652000   open full text
  • Environmental influences on services for and mental health of incarcerated populations: A review.
    Frank Terry, L., Praetorius, R. T., Nordberg, A.
    Journal of Social Work. May 28, 2016

    There has been growing concern about the quality of health services, including mental health services, within the world’s and prisons. The purpose of the current qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis (QIMS) is to examine the prison environment and how it influences the mental health services delivered to prisoners. It is the hope of these authors that with this QIMS, knowledge improvements and modifications to current policies and practices can begin to take shape. A total of five studies published between 2003 and 2013 were utilized for this QIMS. Participants in all five studies included males and females incarcerated in England, Wales, and the United States. Three overarching themes were identified after analysis: difficulties with accessing services, difficulties with primary staff, and isolation. In each overarching theme, sub-themes are reviewed in detail. These three broad categories are discussed in relation to the person-in-environment system, demonstrating its application in an incarcerated setting.

    May 28, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316651999   open full text
  • Implementing safeguarding and personalisation in social work: Findings from practice.
    Stevens, M., Woolham, J., Manthorpe, J., Aspinall, F., Hussein, S., Baxter, K., Samsi, K., Ismail, M.
    Journal of Social Work. May 28, 2016

    This paper reports on part of a research study carried out in three local authority adult social care departments in England, which explored links between adult safeguarding and personalisation. The study included statistical analysis of data on safeguarding referrals and the take up of personal budgets and qualitative interviews with managers, social workers, other staff working on safeguarding and with service users. The paper reports the findings from 16 interviews with managers and social workers, highlighting their perspectives and experiences.


    Five main themes emerged from our analysis: contexts and risk factors; views about risks associated with Direct Payments, approaches to minimising risk; balancing risk and choice; and weaving safeguarding and personalisation practice. Social workers identified similar ranges and kinds of risks to those identified in the national evaluation of Individual Budgets. They described a tension between policy objectives and their exercise of discretion to assess and manage risks. For example, some described how they would discourage certain people from taking their personal budget as a Direct Payment or suggest they take only part of a personal budget as a Direct Payment.


    This exploratory study supports the continued need for skilled social workers to deliver outcomes related to both safeguarding and personalisation policies. Implementing these policies may entail a new form of ‘care and control’, which may require specific approaches in supervision in order to ensure good practice is fostered and positive outcomes attained.

    May 28, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316652001   open full text
  • Debt, poverty, and financial exclusion.
    Krumer-Nevo, M., Gorodzeisky, A., Saar-Heiman, Y.
    Journal of Social Work. May 22, 2016

    Over-indebtedness of impoverished households and its relevance to the social work profession have not received sufficient attention in the professional discourse. It is the intention of this article to put over-indebtedness on the professional agenda, to review the literature about it, and to present initial data from a study on over-indebtedness in Israel carried out with special attention to debtors’ coping with their debts. The research was conducted as a door-to-door survey in a neighborhood with low socio-economic characteristics and included questions about the nature of the debts, the strategies people use to cope with debts and the obstacles they face while doing so.


    The research findings indicate a severe debt problem among the participants. Out of 142 interviewees, 61% had debt that was overdue and 27% of them did not have an active bank account – a significant parameter of financial exclusion. Moreover, the proliferation of debts per household, and the high level of debt-to-income ratio also indicate high risk for financial exclusion. Notwithstanding, the findings indicate that most debtors made active efforts in order to close their debts, using two distinct strategies, namely: trying to reach a payment arrangement with the creditor or paying off the debt by increasing their financial resources. Most debtors used the first strategy, although it was found as the less successful one.


    The article discusses these findings in the framework of the concept of financial exclusion and proposes policy and direct interventions as well as further research on the topic.

    May 22, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316649330   open full text
  • Policy and identity change in youth social work: From social-interventionist to neoliberal policy paradigms.
    Vitus, K.
    Journal of Social Work. May 19, 2016

    This article analyses – by drawing on ideology critical and psychoanalytical concepts from Slavoj Žižek and Glynos et al. – how political, social and fantasmatic logics interplay and form social workers’ professional identities within two youth social work institutions that operate within different social policy paradigms: a social-interventionist paradigm in 2002 and a neoliberal paradigm in 2010.


    The article shows how the current neoliberalisation of public policy permeates social work practices through fantasmatic narratives that create professional identities to heal discrepancies in and conceal the political dimension of everyday life. In one institution, within a welfare state-based ideology a compensating-including social professional identity is created in response to the young people’s alleged deficiencies; in the other institution, within a neoliberal ideology a mobilising-motivating identity is created to meet the young people’s alleged excess. In both narratives, however, the young people risk bearing the blame for the failure of the social professional project.


    Fantasies in both institutions conceal how social workers’ professional identities sustain dominant ideology through dislocating uncertainties, ambiguities and ambivalences implicated in professional social work. Whether rooted in the state-based welfare or market-oriented neoliberal policy paradigms, realisation of these dynamics may expose the basic interdependencies of state, civil society and market actors implicated in the project of professional social work.

    May 19, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316648636   open full text
  • Social work and the two cultures: The art and science of practice.
    Cornish, S.
    Journal of Social Work. May 19, 2016

    Recent explorations of the nature of contemporary social work, tending to differentiate managerial and techno-rational practices from ‘real’ relationship-based interventions, are suggestive of there being an art and a science of social work, echoing Snow’s argument in his ‘Two Cultures’ lecture of 1959 about the especially English tendency to damaging divisions in academia. The concept, and the dangers Snow identified, are revisited and applied to social work in this theoretical article, with the science of practice being located in evidence-informed approaches and its art in relationship-based work.


    Social work has long incorporated approaches which draw on the strengths of the humanities and science ‘cultures’ respectively, and recognises what each has to offer; it may also be considered to some extent as belonging to a ‘Third Culture’, along with other applied fields. Common to any culture, however, as applied within the profession, must be its ethical base.


    As Snow noted, polarity between art and science can lead to common ground being lost which in social work may ultimately disadvantage service users. The professional value base provides the basis for a ‘social work culture’ as long as this is not itself divided by unconstructive schisms.

    May 19, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316649355   open full text
  • Taking on choice and control in personal care and support: The experiences of physically disabled young adults.
    Mitchell, W., Beresford, B., Brooks, J., Moran, N., Glendinning, C.
    Journal of Social Work. May 16, 2016

    Research on self-directed care has focused on older people and adults with learning or mental health difficulties. This article reports physically disabled young adults’ experiences of self-directed care. Such work is important because young adults are a ‘minority’ group within adult social care. This, and their still developing life-skills and lack of life experience, may have a bearing on their experiences of self-directed care and associated support needs. An exploratory qualitative study using semi-structured interviews investigated this issue. Participants were 19–29 years with a range of congenital and acquired impairments.


    Many aspects of interviewees’ experiences of self-directed care appeared to be influenced by their limited life experience, the fact they are still developing life-skills and are a minority group within adult social care. Interviewees identified their lack of life experience and self-confidence as making them cautious in assuming responsibility for their care arrangements and, typically, their desire for on-going parental support. They also believed their age and life stage contributed to difficulties managing carers and PAs. Preferences around characteristics of carers/PAs were influenced by their age and desire to integrate into mainstream activities. Information provided by statutory services did not (fully) acknowledge that some users were young adults.


    Compared to other physically disabled users of adult social care, young adults’ under-developed life-skills and lack of life experience influences their experiences as users, and the support they needed to assume control of their care arrangements. Tailored information and support for this ‘minority group’ is required.

    May 16, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316644700   open full text
  • Breast cancer patient access to social work.
    Abbott, Y. K.
    Journal of Social Work. May 13, 2016

    This study was conducted to understand the impact of oncology social work office location on breast cancer patients’ access and utilization of social work services. It also explored the current status of oncology social work offices and the perceptions among Association of Oncology Social Work Listserv members. The frequency and types of interventions and referral time were determined retrospectively. Association of Oncology Social Work Listserv members were surveyed.


    From 461 new breast cancer patient charts, 52 were referred to social work during study period. Face-to-face interventions decreased by 0.8 contact (p = .0221) and telephone interventions increased by 1.8 contacts (p = .0293) after social work office was relocated away from clinical area. Referral time to social work services decreased unexpectedly by 14.5 days (p = .076) after office relocation. Association of Oncology Social Work Listserv survey results identify an office location as possible barrier, though most respondents have a private office in clinical area, accessible to patients. Survey finding is limited due to low response rate.


    There are many challenges to ensuring timey and effective delivery of social work services to breast cancer patients. Social Ecological framework is used to understand the impacts of office location on access to social work services. Study results suggest that office relocation has had mix impacts on patients. Raising awareness of social worker services among patients early in cancer trajectory is needed for patient empowerment and to ensure access to social work services. Further research is needed to understand barriers, identify effective strategies in order to guide and improve clinical practice.

    May 13, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316649331   open full text
  • Youth unemployment: Implications for social work practice.
    Liang, J., Ng, G. T., Tsui, M.-s., Yan, M. C., Lam, C. M.
    Journal of Social Work. May 13, 2016

    This article discusses a missing but emergent role of social work with unemployed young people. The authors highlight the transitional and structural factors of youth unemployment. Using a social work lens, the "Youth Employment Network" (YEN) is discussed and the International Labour Organization’s "4Es" (employability, equal opportunity, employment creation, entrepreneurship) framework is elaborated. This article adds a fifth "E" (Ecological connection) and proposes a "5Es" model for social workers to support unemployed young people to overcome transitional and structure barriers for employment.


    Limited social work programs, studies, or evaluations are targeted for unemployed young people despite historical concern with employment conditions of workers and suggest the instrumental role in research, policy and practice concerning the unemployed young people.


    Recommendations are provided in terms of how to implement the 5Es in policy, education, training, and direct practice of social work in youth employment.

    May 13, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316649357   open full text
  • Participatory research ideals and practice experience: Reflections and analysis.
    DCruz, H., Gillingham, P.
    Journal of Social Work. April 22, 2016

    Consumer participation in decision making and evaluation of services has been a significant theme in social work and other caring professions for over 20 years. This article reflects on a qualitative research study that was conceptualised within participatory principles. It critically examines key features that emerged as challenges to the ideals of participatory research with parents and grandparents about their experiences with child protection services in Victoria, Australia.


    The features examined are differentiated between the visible and familiar and the invisible, often emergent, aspects of social work research. We critically examine the ways in which the visible and invisible features as situated dimensions of social work research may shape how and whether the ideals of participatory research can be achieved. We discuss tensions in the process that have no clear ‘solutions’. Instead, we identify the importance of mindfulness and reflexive practice by researchers to find their way through these potential ethical and legal minefields.


    We conclude that while social workers must continue to strive for participation by a range of service users in knowledge generation, we must also critically examine and theorise the meaning of participatory research and the idealised images of consumers and service users to improve such practice. An awareness of situated ethics as a location of the self in interaction with others is essential to promote ongoing reflexive practice throughout all stages of research.

    April 22, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316644704   open full text
  • Interpreting childrens best interests: Needs, attachment and decision-making.
    Keddell, E.
    Journal of Social Work. April 21, 2016

    Many decisions in the child welfare arena revolve around the concept of ‘children’s best interests’, but determining what they actually consist of is contestable and subject to conflicting criteria. This article describes the content of ‘children’s best interests’ discourses used by social workers and parents as part of decision-making rationales.


    This study found that the construction of children’s ‘best interests’ was underpinned by concepts related to children’s needs. Needs were framed as emotional needs best met by family relationships, and theorised primarily using attachment theory. This resulted in decisions that tended to favour stability over change, as children’s distress on separation, indiscriminate affection, and difficult behaviours were interpreted as evidence of attachment problems that should lead to decisions to retain stable caregiving arrangements. The use of attachment theory was not straightforward, and illustrates the uneasy juxtapositions of conflicting discourses impacting on child welfare decision-making, particularly the influence of policy orientation.


    These conflicts highlight the contested child welfare domain, and the contextualised interpretations required of attachment theories in decision-making contexts in order to make sound decisions for specific children. Implications for practice and education are discussed.

    April 21, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316644694   open full text
  • A specialists perspective on the value of generalist practise: A qualitative network analysis.
    Raeymaeckers, P.
    Journal of Social Work. April 20, 2016

    Social work practise is increasingly confronted with the dilemma of specialisation versus generalism. This article embraces the idea of a network that combines the strengths of specialist and generalist service organisations. We focus on the role of generalist service providers in a network of specialist organisations. We conduct 25 interviews with social workers in a network of service organisations in a single district in Antwerp, Belgium. Social workers (n = 15) from specialist service organisations are interviewed to determine how they perceive collaboration with social workers from generalist service organisations. We also include the perspectives of 10 respondents affiliated with generalist service agencies.


    The results show that generalists facilitate interactions between specialists and their clients. Their holistic perspective on the complex problems of very vulnerable clients allows them to fulfil critical functions such as brokering information and mediating when conflicts arise.


    Our analysis provides a better understanding of the role of generalist organisations in a network of specialist service organisations. This article concludes that further research on the importance of collaboration, networks and generalist practise is necessary to further develop a research agenda that focuses on how social work is able to address the complex problems of vulnerable target groups.

    April 20, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316644693   open full text
  • Medical social workers perceptions of obesity.
    Shinan-Altman, S.
    Journal of Social Work. April 20, 2016

    Professionals’ perceptions of patients’ health conditions are significant factors which influence the quality of treatment they provide. This study aimed to assess medical social workers’ perceptions of their patients’ obesity ("obesity representations"), as well as the relationship between these representations and knowledge about obesity, attitudes toward obesity, and personal exposure to obesity. A convenience sample of 105 medical social workers completed illness representations (dimensions included cause, timeline, consequences, control, coherence, timeline cycle, emotional representation) questionnaires, as well as attitudes toward obese patients, obesity risk knowledge, personal exposure to obesity, and sociodemographic questionnaires.


    Medical social workers perceived obesity as being associated with severe consequences and as being controlled by one’s own behavior and through treatment. The medical social workers also expressed high negative emotional representations and significantly high percentage of them held negative attitudes toward obese patients. Multiple regression analyses revealed that personal exposure to obesity and attitudes toward obese patients emerged as significant predictors of timeline, emotional representations, and treatment control.


    The study findings encourage the development of training and support programs, which will deal with the feelings of fear and anger that may accompany the care of obese patients. In addition, the findings can also aid in assessing and evaluating medical social workers’ obesity representations.

    April 20, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316644696   open full text
  • Resiliency and women exiting sex trade industry work.
    Hickle, K. E.
    Journal of Social Work. April 20, 2016

    A qualitative approach was used to explore the experience of exiting sex trade industry work from the perspective of 19 adults formerly involved in the sex trade industry. A narrative approach to data collection was used to explore the participants’ experiences of successful exiting and phenomenological analysis was employed to identify themes that reflected the ways in which participants developed resiliency throughout the exiting process.


    Themes include connection (including subthemes: survivor presence, children and spirituality), resources (including subthemes: networks, structure and safety) and personal growth.


    These themes represent women with diverse experiences in the sex trade industry, including a majority who were victimised by (internal) sex trafficking. The findings demonstrate opportunities for social work practice to address the diverse needs of individuals exiting the sex trade industry, specifically for those who experienced sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

    April 20, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316644692   open full text
  • Eco-social work and community resilience: Insights from water activism in Canada.
    Case, R. A.
    Journal of Social Work. April 20, 2016

    Only recently has social work begun to grapple with its place in relation to environmental issues. While considerable progress has been made in bringing environmental considerations into the centre of our profession's scholarship and practice, this project is far from complete. Drawing on environmental literature and based on findings of a qualitative case study of water activism in one Canadian city, this paper argues that the concept of "community resilience" provides both a practical and a conceptual framework for advancing social work's engagement with issues of the natural environment and environmental justice through community praxis.


    In Guelph, Ontario, Canada, water issues are the focal point of considerable community activism. The case study research reveals, however, that while water is the focus, much of this activism is driven by three broad social priorities that reflect ideas of community resilience and which suggest entry points for social work participation in community-based environmental initiatives: self-reliance and sustainability, localization and direct citizen participation, and community.


    "Community resilience" is increasingly popular in environmental and community development fields as a conceptual framework for assessing and building the capacity of communities to support wellbeing in the face of environmental change, adversity and risk. While the concept of "resilience" is well established in social work, "community resilience" remains under-examined in social work literature. In this paper, the author draws attention to this arena of resilience thinking, highlighting its potential for the integration of considerations of the natural environment into social work scholarship, education, and practice.

    April 20, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316644695   open full text
  • Framing the 'child at risk in social work reports: Truth-telling or storytelling?
    Roets, G., Roose, R., De Wilde, L., Vanobbergen, B.
    Journal of Social Work. April 20, 2016

    In the field of child welfare and protection, the notion of the ‘child at risk’ implies a central ground and legitimation for intervention yet is extremely ambiguous, since it can be constructed in radically different ways in practice. This construction process might involve challenges to professional assessment and intervention, since dealing with this complex notion is about more than tools, (risk) management and protocols. We focus on the practice of writing reports as an exemplary practice in which social workers exercise their power while assessing and constructing the child as ‘at risk’. Two approaches of social workers in interpreting the complexity of situations where children are potentially at risk are considered: truth-telling and storytelling. We report on a qualitative study conducted with 152 social work students in which we explore how they construct reports.


    In our analysis, we identify three major issues in the construction of the ‘child at risk’ when social work students approach report writing as an open-ended and reflexive practice of storytelling: recognisability, comprehensibility and stigmatisation.


    The normative judgment processes in social work are complex, determined by the analysis of situations in which the child may potentially be constructed as being at risk. Dealing with this complexity therefore requires reflexivity of social workers regarding their perceptions and interpretations at stake in practice. We argue that normative judgment in risk assessment should be an essential area for exploration in social work education.

    April 20, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316644864   open full text
  • Support across life course regimes. A comparative model of social work as construction of social problems, needs, and rights.
    Walther, A.
    Journal of Social Work. April 05, 2016

    This article aims at contributing to a systematisation of comparative social work research with regard to reflection on its purpose, object, and methodology. On one hand, models and approaches from comparative welfare and education are presented and applied to comparative social work research. On the other hand, a theoretical and methodological framework model is suggested which develops comparative social work research from a life course perspective which allows to contextualise social work practice in terms of the functions and meanings it takes in different societies. This model of life course regimes is based on a series of comparative studies on young people's transitions to adulthood and the public policy and practice addressing them.


    The model of life course regimes provides a framework of contextual knowledge which enables interpretation by relating comparative findings with regard to social work to the respective societal contexts. It represents a framework for clustering different constellations of social integration and normality providing social work with specific functions and meanings.


    The model of life course regimes may inform the sampling of comparative studies as well as guiding the process of interpretation and analysis. Apart from this it represents a source of critical reflexivity both for theory and practice.

    April 05, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316640195   open full text
  • Models of safeguarding in England: Identifying important models and variables influencing the operation of adult safeguarding.
    Graham, K., Stevens, M., Norrie, C., Manthorpe, J., Moriarty, J., Hussein, S.
    Journal of Social Work. April 04, 2016

    Greater priority is now being given to improving responses to concerns that adults may be at risk of abuse or neglect in England and internationally. In England, the Care Act 2014 placed ‘adult safeguarding’ on a firmer statutory footing. Although local authorities were given the lead responsibility for adult safeguarding over a decade ago, little is known about how they organised their responses. This article reports one element of a national study in which semi-structured interviews with 23 local authority adult safeguarding managers in 2013–14 were conducted. The interviews sought to understand how local authorities arrange their responses to adult safeguarding concerns.


    Several models of practice were identified. Confirming a central theme reported in the literature, the extent and nature of specialism within safeguarding practice varied. Safeguarding specialists were reported to be based in centralised teams or were located as specialists in locality social work teams. In some areas, the role of specialist safeguarding practitioners was linked to an analysis of risk severity or location of concern. Other areas emphasised the importance of safeguarding work as the core of mainstream social work practice.


    These findings offer a basis for analysis and managerial considerations about the implications of different organisational models of adult safeguarding. These may be relevant to option appraisals and decision-making about future organisational planning.

    April 04, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316640071   open full text
  • Secondary traumatic stress and empowerment among social workers working with family violence or sexual assault survivors.
    Choi, G.-Y.
    Journal of Social Work. March 31, 2016

    The impact of secondary traumatic stress on social workers can be profound. The study reported here examined the relationship between psychological empowerment and secondary traumatic stress among social workers who provide services to family violence or sexual assault survivors on a regular basis. The study participants (N =154) were recruited from the National Association of Social Workers in the United States; data were collected through mail surveys. Psychological empowerment was defined as having a sense of competency, impact, self-determination, and meaning in one’s organization as the person performs work.


    Social workers who demonstrated higher levels of psychological empowerment experienced lower levels of secondary traumatic stress controlling for sociodemographic variables. Among the control variables, experiencing more personal traumatic events predicted higher levels of secondary traumatic stress.


    The findings imply that social service organizations can help social workers prevent or alleviate secondary traumatic stress symptoms by enhancing their psychological empowerment. Several organizational strategies can be developed to empower social workers who assist the survivors of family violence or sexual assault to prevent secondary traumatic stress or reduce its severity.

    March 31, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316640194   open full text
  • Social support and parenting stress in at-risk Portuguese families.
    Ayala-Nunes, L., Nunes, C., Lemos, I.
    Journal of Social Work. March 31, 2016

    Families that are at psychosocial risk live under personal and contextual circumstances that hinder their parenting skills. They frequently lack the resources necessary for addressing the challenges of parenting and encounter multiple stressful life events. Social support may help diminish the parenting stress that is experienced from living in a disadvantaged environment by enhancing coping strategies. However, previous research examining the associations between parenting stress and social support among at-risk families has been inconclusive. This study analyzed the psychosocial profile of at-risk Portuguese families, the size and composition of their social support networks and the associations between social support and parenting stress. Participants consisted of 167 parents (80% mothers) who received assistance from Child Protection Services. Measures included the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form, the Arizona Social Support Interview Schedule and a socio-demographic questionnaire.


    Parenting stress levels were extremely high, with 44.51% of parents showing clinically significant levels. Emotional support was the type of support that was most closely related to parental distress, namely the network size available for providing emotional support (r = –.27, p = .000) and satisfaction with the emotional support received (r = –.24, p = .006).


    The size of the emotional support network was significantly smaller among parents who reported clinically significant levels of parenting stress. Hence, having the opportunity to express feelings and concerns as well as engaging in social interactions during leisure time may serve as protective factors against parental stress in at-risk families. Implications of for the interventions of professionals who work with at-risk families are discussed.

    March 31, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316640200   open full text
  • Personalisation, personal budgets and family carers. Whose assessment? Whose budget?
    Brooks, J., Mitchell, W., Glendinning, C.
    Journal of Social Work. March 23, 2016

    The policy of personalisation in English adult social care prioritises choice and control by service users over the support they receive. Carers also have rights to assessments and support, but these rights have developed separately, so interdependencies between carers and service users may be overlooked. Moreover, it may be difficult to reconcile these divergent policies in routine practice. This article reports findings from a study examining the roles played by carers in England in the processes of assessment, support planning and management of personal budgets for disabled and older people. The study was conducted between January 2011 and February 2013. It involved a survey of 16 adult social care departments across 2 English regions, and interviews with personalisation and carers lead officers in three local authorities. The Framework approach was used to manage the data, and analysis was done thematically.


    Practice was fragmented and inconsistent. Carers were reported to be involved in service users' assessments, and also asked about their willingness and ability to continue caring, but not necessarily about their own needs. Separate carers' assessments were reported to be usually offered, but take-up was low and lead officers' opinions about their value varied. Any help given by carers reduced the level of service users' personal budgets, but there was no evidence that carers' own needs (as identified in carers' assessments) were taken into account.


    Greater clarity and consistency is needed, especially the linking of service users' and carers' assessments and finding appropriate ways to meet both. These changes will become increasingly urgent with the implementation of the 2014 Care Act.

    March 23, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316638554   open full text
  • Intersectional impact of multiple identities on social work education in the UK.
    Liu, B. C.-p.
    Journal of Social Work. March 17, 2016

    The study reviews the records of 671 social work students and graduates including the seven intakes from the first cohort in 2003/2004 to the intake in 2010/2011 to examine the interacting effect of learning difficulties, ethnicity and gender on the completion of social work training at a university in the South East of England.


    Among the students, 79.9% of them were female, 50.1% were black, 27.9% white, 10.7% Asian and 11.3% other ethnicities. A majority of students did not report any disability. Among those who did (n = 84), 52.3% (n = 44) reported a learning difficulty. The percentage of students who have successfully completed the training is 76.4%, a completion rate that is comparable to the UK's national figure. Having controlled the confounding variables, hierarchical logistic regression identified the risk factor for dropout from undergraduate social work programme as black female students with learning difficulties (odds ratio = 0.100, 95% confidence interval = 0.012–0.862, p < 0.05). Findings suggested that students with multiplicity of identities, i.e. being black and female and with a learning difficulty, have a lower probability to complete the programme successfully.


    Strategies for tackling the intersecting disadvantages of race, gender and disabilities in social work training should embrace three principles: providing continuous support, focusing on how the support is provided and addressing contextual and structural barriers.

    March 17, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316637220   open full text
  • Social work support for employment of people with learning disabilities: Findings from the English Jobs First demonstration sites.
    Stevens, M., Harris, J.
    Journal of Social Work. March 17, 2016

    This article brings together two key themes in recent public policy in England affecting social work practice: the value of having a paid job for social inclusion and increasing self-worth, and the personalisation of public services. The article draws on a mixed method evaluation of Jobs First, which was a government-funded demonstration site project that aimed to show how personal budgets (a key mechanism for personalisation) could be used by people with learning disabilities, often with their families, to purchase employment support. The evaluation involved secondary analysis of case record data and 142 semi-structured interviews with a wide range of participants (we mainly draw on 79 interviews with professionals for this article). Jobs First is placed within the frame of Active Labour Market Policy.


    The attitudes of social workers to Jobs First were broadly positive, which was an important factor supporting employment outcomes. However, social workers’ involvement was often limited to a coordinating role, undertaking basic assessments linked to resource allocation and ensuring that support plans, which had often been developed by non-social work practitioners, were ‘signed off’ or agreed by the local authority.


    The study points to important elements of the role of social workers in this new field of practice and explores potential tensions that might emerge. It highlights a continuing theme that social workers are playing more of a coordinating, managing role, rather than working directly with individuals to support their choices.

    March 17, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316637224   open full text
  • Engaging parents in Family Court: Lessons from an observational study of child protection cases.
    Lens, V.
    Journal of Social Work. March 17, 2016

    This study explores the courtroom interactions between judges, attorneys, and parents charged with child abuse or neglect. Drawing on ethnographic observations of court cases in a Family Court located in the northeastern United States, this study seeks to understand how judges encourage or inhibit parents’ participation and the strategies and tactics used to influence parental behaviors and obtain cooperation with court orders.


    On one end of the spectrum are judges who engage little, or not at all with parents, preferring to speak only to the professional court actors. On the other end of the spectrum is a more participatory approach, with judges weaving parents into court room exchanges and engaging them in informational and decision-making dialogs. A similar divergence appears when soliciting cooperation from parents, with some judges relying on shaming rituals and others using a softer approach that incorporates praise and support.


    Strategic interventions are identified that will increase parents’ cooperation and satisfaction with the Family Court system. These include vigorously engaging in both informational and decision-making dialogs with parents and using rituals of praise and support, rather than shaming.

    March 17, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316637589   open full text
  • Positive processes of change among male and female clients treated for alcohol and/or drug problems.
    von Greiff, N., Skogens, L.
    Journal of Social Work. March 17, 2016

    In social work practice, the role of substance use is often encountered in the context of other social problems such as child abuse and domestic violence. This article compares descriptions of important factors for initiating and maintaining positive changes among male and female clients treated for alcohol and/or drug problems. The results have a bearing both on substance use treatment and on other areas in social work practice where these problems are encountered. Studies highlighting gender perspective indicate differences regarding experience of alcohol and drug problems and treatment. An advantage of the study is the qualitative analysis of a rather comprehensive material (n = 90) enabling more general conclusions than in previous research with a limited number of clients.


    Women more often than men stress poor mental health and their children as important for initiating change. When referring to partners, women report abusive rather than supportive partners while the opposite applies to men. For maintaining change, male clients more often stress changes in ways of thinking and feeling as important. Men also report becoming more sensitive while women get more active. This can be understood as transcending of gender with possibilities of a broader repertoire of how to act.


    A challenge for practical treatment work is to create possibilities for clients to broaden their repertoire of ways of living and thinking about themselves, expressed by women as the importance of taking space and speaking up and by the men of showing emotion and listening more.

    March 17, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316638576   open full text
  • Social work doctoral education: Are doctoral students being prepared to teach?
    Maynard, B. R., Lind, K. S., Berglund, A. H., Albright, D. L., Labuzienski, E. M.
    Journal of Social Work. March 15, 2016

    Longstanding tensions exist around the purpose of social work doctoral programs, particularly around the extent to which doctoral program should prepare their students to teach. Indeed, social work programs in the United States have been criticized for failing to prepare graduates for teaching; however, it has been a number of years since doctoral curricula have been reviewed. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which US social work doctoral programs are training their students to teach by assessing the extent to which pedagogical training is explicitly integrated into doctoral curricula and examining the scope and content of required doctoral courses on teaching. Content analysis of social work doctoral program curricula (n = 72) and teaching and learning related course syllabi (n = 24) was conducted by two coders. Syllabi were coded and analyzed to produce a profile of course objectives, readings, teaching strategies, assessment methods, and course content.


    Of the 72 PhD programs, 90% included a goal related to the preparation of their students for teaching; however, only 37 (51%) required a course on teaching. Course content, teaching, and assessment methods were found to vary across courses.


    Training the next generation of social work practitioners to engage in effective social work practice is critical to the profession; however, the preparation of doctoral students to provide quality education to future social work practitioners seems to be largely neglected. Implications for doctoral education are discussed.

    March 15, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316637226   open full text
  • Independent social work practices with adults in England: An appreciative inquiry of a pilot programme.
    Teater, B., Carpenter, J.
    Journal of Social Work. March 15, 2016

    Social Work Practice Pilots with adults was a government initiative in England (2011–2014) that created seven social work practices independent from local authorities/government. The stated aims were to reduce bureaucracy, promote professional discretion and expertise, and reduce the size of the public sector. The Social Work Practice Pilots were social work-led and comprised between five and 100 social workers and/or other professionals/non-professionals. This article describes how the methodology of appreciative inquiry was used to investigate how the Social Work Practice Pilots in England were developing as independent practices. Information was obtained through two, two-day site visits at each Social Work Practice Pilot, and two shared learning workshops with representatives from the Social Work Practice Pilots.


    Social Work Practice Pilots were found to be developing in accord with the following four key aims of the pilots: (1) spend more time with clients (service users), (2) a more responsive service, (3) more control over the day-to-day management, and (4) think creatively about resource use. Social Work Practice Pilots reported a reduction in bureaucracy and an ability to create flexible practices that more appropriately met the needs of the communities.


    The findings provide an initial indication of how social work practice could develop independently of local authorities and suggest possible benefits to staff and clients. The study demonstrated how the AI approach to research and consultancy can serve as a participative learning process when exploring social work practice. The strengths and limitations of the approach are discussed.

    March 15, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316637229   open full text
  • The place of service-user expertise in evidence-based practice.
    Davies, K., Gray, M.
    Journal of Social Work. March 11, 2016

    This article considers the place of service-user knowledge and expertise within an evidence-based practice perspective. It makes a strong argument that client involvement is a core principle of Sackett et al.'s foundational approach in evidence-based medicine. In so doing, it draws on research on service-users' perceptions and experiences of evidence-based practice.


    For service users, evidence-based practice lacks relevance and trustworthiness unless it explicitly factors in the expertise of service users themselves. Evidence-based practice is seen to have merit as a tool for enhancing accountability, but service users see a role for themselves at individual and representative levels in the process of evidence-based practice. They place a high value on the expertise derived from lived experience, and recognise that fluctuations in capacity and changes in circumstances of many service users require a flexible approach to their participation in decision making. A pragmatic approach to the conceptualisation of evidence is recommended, which not only maintains scientific rigour inherent in evidence-based practice but also more strongly emphasises the process of analysing evidence appropriate to a particular individual's preferences and circumstances.


    For human service practitioners, this study emphasises the need to develop professional skills in assessing the capacities, circumstances and preferences of clients and analysing and applying evidence for practice in ways that conform to a client-centred approach. It also indicates a need for researchers and practitioners to recognise and value service-user expertise.

    March 11, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316637222   open full text
  • The use of family group conferences in mental health: Barriers for implementation.
    Schout, G., van Dijk, M., Meijer, E., Landeweer, E., de Jong, G.
    Journal of Social Work. March 11, 2016

    The number of compulsory admissions in Dutch psychiatry has increased in the past 25 years. The reduction of coercion with Family Group Conferences in youth care has been successful. How, when and under what conditions can Family Group Conferences reduce coercion in adult psychiatry, is subject of an extensive inquiry. This paper, however, focusses on the reverse question, namely, in what circumstances can Family Group Conferences not be deployed? An answer to this question provides insights regarding situations in which Family Group Conferences may (not) be useful. Barriers in 17 cases were examined using multiple case studies.


    The following barriers emerged: (1) the acute danger in coercion situations, the limited time available, the fear of liability and the culture of control and risk aversion in mental health care; (2) the severity of the mental state of clients leading to difficulties in decision-making and communication; (3) considering an Family Group Conference and involving familial networks as an added value in crisis situation is not part of the thinking and acting of professionals in mental health care; (4) clients and their network (who) are not open to an Family Group Conference.


    Awareness of the barriers for Family Group Conferences can help to keep an open mind for its capacity to strengthen the partnership between clients, familial networks and professionals. The application of Family Group Conferences can help to effectuate professional and ethical values of social workers in their quest for the least coercive care.

    March 11, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316637227   open full text
  • Looking into care: The reliability and feasibility of a Taxonomy of Care for Youth.
    Evenboer, K., Huyghen, A., Tuinstra, J., Reijneveld, S., Knorth, E.
    Journal of Social Work. March 11, 2016

    Classifying the care provided to children with emotional and behavioural problems can provide empirical insights into the relationship between child characteristics, the care offered and outcomes after leaving care. The Taxonomy of Care for Youth (TOCFY) has recently been shown to validly classify this care in six domains covering all aspects of care. The aim of this study was to assess the inter-rater reliability and feasibility of TOCFY. Two raters independently classified the care provided to 200 children (50 per organisation) from organisations in primary health care, child and youth care, and mental health care (two organisations), based on their care records. We assessed inter-rater reliability and the degree to which TOCFY categories could be applied anyhow, that is its feasibility.


    Mean agreement was 89.8% between raters; excluding the cases scored as ‘unknown’, the mean agreement was 82.2%. TOCFY-categories could be applied for over 90% regarding each of the six domains.


    TOCFY is a valid, reliable and feasible instrument to classify care within different types of care organisations. Give these promising findings, application and further evaluation of TOCFY is recommended.

    March 11, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316637223   open full text
  • The childcatchers: An exploration of the representations and discourses of social work in UK film and television drama from the 1960s to the present day.
    Edmondson, D., King, M.
    Journal of Social Work. March 11, 2016

    This article reports on research undertaken to critically examine portrayals, representations and discourses of social work and social workers in UK film and television drama from the 1960s to the present day. The research analysed four film and television dramas where social work and social workers were featured: Cathy Come Home (1966), Ladybird Ladybird (1994), Happy Go Lucky (2008) and Oranges and Sunshine (2010). The research aimed to examine portrayals and representations of social work and social workers in UK film and television drama; inform and develop an understanding of contemporary narratives and discourses about social work and contribute to debates about the purpose and future of social work.


    Portrayals and representations of social work in UK film and television drama often encourage and reinforce an overly simplistic, hostile and negative impression of the profession, work which is presented as predominantly focused on child protection and the removal of children from families. Social workers are typically characterised as incompetent, bureaucratic, well-meaning but misguided. This potentially endorses neo-liberal ideologies and discourses about welfare, welfare recipients, welfare provision and social service.


    This approach to the topic offers an accessible and interesting platform for research, teaching and policy development, which has the potential to critically inform debates about the future and purpose of social work and welfare in the United Kingdom.

    March 11, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316637221   open full text
  • Communicating concern or making claims?: The 2012 press releases of UK child welfare and protection agencies.
    Clapton, G., Cree, V. E.
    Journal of Social Work. March 11, 2016

    Child welfare and protection agencies play an important role in bringing concerns about children and young people to public attention. The press release is a key tool within this. This article reports on findings from an analysis of press releases from selected UK child welfare and protection agencies in 2012. It demonstrates that the information contained in press releases is neither neutral nor dispassionate. Instead, press releases are found to be political artefacts, whose purpose is to galvanise and shape opinion and garner support for a particular standpoint, campaign or the agency itself. In this respect, they must be understood as ‘claims-making’ activities. Because of this, they should, it will be argued, be subject to the same critical scrutiny that we would expect to bring to the presentation of all ‘evidence’.

    March 11, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316637228   open full text
  • Forensic Social Work: Implementing Specialist Social Work Education.
    Sheehan, R.
    Journal of Social Work. February 27, 2016

    This article reports on a case study of specialist social work education in Australia. In particular, the views of specialist forensic social workers are explored both about their needs for social work education to support them for practice in forensic social work and also about their experiences of a particular program. Whilst social work education focuses in varying degrees on mental health practice, social workers not only in mental health and corrections but also in child protection, disability, and drug and alcohol services are increasingly expected to understand linkages between offending behavior, psychological disorder and family systems, and balance community and individual needs. The social workers reported that their experience of postqualifying education led to adaptations in the nature of their practice, the development of generic skills, which enabled them to incorporate an awareness of the effects of the justice system on mental health and to balance what are often opposing needs and considerations when working in this contested area. The experiences of the study group of forensic social work practitioners can be used to inform the development of similar specialist programs elsewhere not only in forensic social work but more widely as part of debates about the nature of specialist social work practice.

    February 27, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316635491   open full text
  • 'Unmarried Mothers in the Republic of Ireland.
    Garrett, P. M.
    Journal of Social Work. February 16, 2016

    During the summer of 2014 reports that a ‘septic tank grave’ containing ‘skeletons of 800 babies’ had been discovered on the site of a former home for ‘unmarried mothers’ in Tuam, County Galway appeared in the international press and social media. Doubts quickly began to surface around the assertion that the remains of children had, in fact, been ‘dumped’ in a ‘septic tank, but it is still important that responses to ‘unmarried mothers’ and their children are subject to contemporary scrutiny because substantial concerns clearly warrant investigation. In June 2014 the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, in the Irish coalition government, announced the setting up of an inquiry.


    Acknowledging the significance of historical and archival research for social work, the article provides a more expansive contextual account than that featured in the media coverage. The main focus is on policy and practice in relation to ‘unmarried mothers’ in the early years of the state and the establishment of quasi-penal Mother and Baby Homes. The lack of legal child adoption also restricted the meaningful choices available to expectant, unwed women in Ireland. Many, known to social workers as P.F.I.s (‘pregnant from Ireland’), decided to flee to England to give birth and have children placed for adoption. Drawing on the annual reports of the Catholic Protection and Rescue Society of Ireland, it is revealed that these women often faced being ‘repatriated’ back to Ireland.


    The discussion serves to emphasise the vital significance of social history in comprehending ways of working with ‘troublesome’ populations.

    February 16, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316628447   open full text
  • Do same-sex relationships count as family? The effects of personal characteristics, values, and contact on social workers definitions of same-sex relationships.
    Shilo, G., Cohen, O., Gavriel-Fried, B.
    Journal of Social Work. February 06, 2016

    This mixed-methods study examined whether heterosexual social workers define same-sex relationships within the concept of family. A sample of 490 Israeli social workers completed a survey that assessed their definition of same-sex relationships as family, their personal values, level of acquaintance with same-sex relationships, and demographics. The qualitative portion included an open-ended question on the way participants perceived social and professional changes concerning families.


    Results revealed that religiosity, gender, age, the values of universalism, benevolence and tradition, and level of acquaintance with same-sex relationships were direct predictors of the respondents’ definition of same-sex relationships as family. Level of acquaintance mediated the relationships between most demographic and value variables examined and respondents’ definition of same-sex relationships as family. Qualitative analysis endorsed the quantitative analysis.


    Theoretical and practice implications are discussed, underlining the central role that personal acquaintance with same-sex families has in reducing heterosexism, and the need to improve knowledge about same-sex families in social work education.

    February 06, 2016   doi: 10.1177/1468017316630693   open full text
  • The management of children and family social workers in England: Reflecting upon the meaning and provision of support.
    Harlow, E.
    Journal of Social Work. September 28, 2015

    In England in 2010, the then Children’s Workforce Development Council introduced an initiative which aimed to support front line social work managers in the performance of their role. This article reflects on the way in which support was interpreted and implemented by the Children’s Workforce Development Council and the local authorities that participated in the project, but also the relevance of the project for the social work profession in England at the time.


    The construction and implementation of the ‘Support to Front Line Managers Project’ was negotiated, iterative and contingent. However, in keeping with the aims of the project, relational and reflective methods of developing supervisory skills were deployed by local authorities.


    In acknowledging the limitations of techno-rational systems of management, this article offers an interpretive case study of a national initiative which encouraged investment in reflective and relational approaches to performance enhancement. It highlights the interest in coaching, mentoring and action learning as developmental techniques, but also the significance of supervision to the identity of social work as a profession.

    September 28, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315607092   open full text
  • Personal value preferences and burnout of social workers.
    Tartakovsky, E.
    Journal of Social Work. June 30, 2015

    The present study examines the connection between the personal value preferences of social workers and their burnout. A total of 512 Israeli social workers participated in the study.


    Socio-demographic characteristics explained only a small proportion of the variance in the social workers' burnout; however, years of experience in social work, education, and salary were significant predictors of the social workers' burnout. Personal value preferences explained a substantial proportion of the variance in the social workers' burnout beyond the effect of the socio-demographic variables. A higher preference for the benevolence, universalism, and achievement values and a lower preference for the power and face values were associated with less burnout.


    The results obtained are discussed in light of the value congruence paradigm. The study's implications for the training and practice of social workers are discussed.

    June 30, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315589872   open full text
  • Changing attitudes about disability: The impact of the 'Accessible Community' program.
    Zychlinski, E., Ben-Ezra, M., Raz, Y. H.
    Journal of Social Work. June 22, 2015

    We examined whether participation in the ‘Accessible Community’ program (an Israeli nationwide community program), changed social work students’ attitudes towards people with disabilities. A total of 150 social work students in their first year were divided into task groups focusing on variety activities for and with people with disabilities. The students attended an academic course in community social work, and completed an ‘Attitudes towards Persons with Disability’ questionnaire (ATDP) prior and subsequent to participation; 58.67% (N = 88) completed the questionnaire before the project, 79 also filled it in afterwards (89.7%).


    Two subscales of ATDP for positive and negative items were composed in order to extrapolate more specific data. Participation in the project did not lead to any significant overall change in attitude. Yet, negative attitudes were significantly associated with previous volunteering and prior negative attitudes, while positive attitudes were significantly associated with prior positive attitudes.


    It is important to identify amongst those working in the helping professions their prior attitudes toward people with disabilities in order to provide them with significant corrective experiences during their practical training.

    June 22, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315589871   open full text
  • Assessing the level of risk of families supported by Child and Family Protection Services: Practitioners and mothers as informants.
    Alvarez-Dardet, S. M., Garcia, M. V. H., Lara, B. L., Padilla, J. P.
    Journal of Social Work. April 27, 2015

    The evaluation of the specific level of family risk is a central topic to better understand the diversity of families assisted by Child and Family Protection Services, and also to design and address effective social interventions. Professionals of these services tend to have a great amount of knowledge and experience that has been rarely taken into account in research about at-risk families. In this study the level of family risk, according to data reported both by practitioners and mothers receiving family preservation intervention, is analyzed in a sample of 106 mothers assisted by state Child and Family Protection Services in Huelva, Spain.


    A frequent profile of poor and multi-assisted families was found, but there was also an important level of heterogeneity in the level of risk, suggesting that these families are not a homogeneous group. The global valuation of family risk informed by professionals was significantly related to data reported by mothers using a standardized tool of family risk factors. Analyses presented also show significant relations with both the family socio-demographic profile and data of the case history involving protection services: higher levels of family risk were mainly associated with higher levels of economic, educational, and labor precariousness, and with more complex and complicated case indicators.


    Implications of these results concerning both the importance of incorporating systematic evaluations of family risk by means standardized tools to practice and considering practitioners as a relevant source of information in family research are discussed.

    April 27, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315583174   open full text
  • Psychological and background correlates of bullying in adolescent residential care.
    Sekol, I., Farrington, D. P.
    Journal of Social Work. April 24, 2015

    This research examined psychological and background correlates of bullying in adolescent residential care. Young people aged 11–21 (N = 601) from 22 residential institutions in Croatia completed an anonymous self-reported bullying questionnaire, the Basic Empathy Scale, the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale and the Big Five Personality Inventory.


    The results demonstrated that both male and female bullies tend to be disagreeable, careless, neurotic, likely to hold attitudes approving of bullying, and likely to bully others in school. Male bullies also tend to be extraverted, lacking in affective empathy, tend to have a history of bullying during their earlier placements, and tend to have been institutionalised for problematic behaviour. It is concluded that bullying is more persistent for males and that psychological and personality factors play a greater role in male bullying than in female bullying. However, both male and female bullies had commonly been school bullies.


    Bullying in care might be mitigated by: a) avoiding accommodating residents who are prone to victimisation together with older, more experienced residents who manifest antisocial behaviour; b) programmes aimed at changing attitudes approving of bullying; c) techniques for controlling the impulsivity of bullies; and d) empathy enhancement programmes. However, longitudinal research on bullying is needed.

    April 24, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315581530   open full text
  • Relocation, portability and social care practice: A scoping review.
    White, C., Marsland, D., Manthorpe, J.
    Journal of Social Work. April 24, 2015

    The portability of publicly-funded adult social care across local authority boundaries received recent policy attention in England and was addressed in the Care Act 2014. This article presents the findings of a scoping review conducted between July–September 2012 that searched selected journals and online databases for relevant material. The aim of the review was to identify what is known about the experiences of adults entitled to publicly-funded social care who move between local authorities, and the support provided by social workers to those planning to relocate. The review focused specifically on disabled adults and carers, eligible for and in receipt of social care support, who relocate for work or education in England.


    The review identified little direct research covering experiences of moving between local authorities. However, six specific barriers, challenges and facilitators to relocation were identified; these included the portability of social care support, variations in policy and practice between local authorities, and housing availability. The review concludes that the process of relocation may be complex, challenging, and uncertain, although individuals may experience benefits and positive outcomes.


    The review outlines areas for good social work practice in supporting people using social care services to relocate. These include: ensuring the provision of information; close working between local authorities and social workers; the development of interim plans to address potential delays in setting up support; proactive and rapid monitoring and reassessment following a move to address potentially changed support needs arising from changed housing circumstances.

    April 24, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315581532   open full text
  • Falling in love outwards: Eco-social work and the sensuous event.
    Houston, S., Gray, M.
    Journal of Social Work. April 23, 2015

    Social work is a discipline that focuses on the person-in-the-environment. However, the social domains of influence have traditionally received more attention from the profession compared with the impact of the natural world on human well-being. With the development of ecological theories, and growing threats to the environment, this gap has been addressed and now the notion of eco-social work is attracting more interest. This article builds on this corpus of work by exploring, and augmenting, the thinking of the philosopher, David Abram, and his phenomenological investigation of perception, meaning, embodiment, language and Indigenous experience. The implications for eco-social work are then addressed.


    The development of Abram's philosophical thesis is charted by reviewing his presentation of the ideas of the European phenomenologists, Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. It is argued that Abram uses phenomenology to explore the character of perception and the sensual foundations of language which, in Indigenous cultures, are connected with the natural world. A gap in Abram's thinking is then revealed showing the need to set human perception and language within an understanding of power. Overall, this re-worked thesis is underpinned by a meta-narrative in which ecology engages with philosophy, psychology and Indigenous experience.


    By grounding such ideas in Slavoj Žižek's construct of the sensuous event, three applications within social work are evinced, namely: (i) reflecting on the sensuous event in social work education; (ii) rekindling the sensuous event with Indigenous Peoples; and (iii) instigating the sensuous event with non-Indigenous populations.

    April 23, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315581531   open full text
  • Supporting choice: Support planning, older people and managed personal budgets.
    Rabiee, P., Baxter, K., Glendinning, C.
    Journal of Social Work. April 23, 2015

    • Summary: English policy emphasises personalised and flexible social care support using ‘Personal Budgets’ (PB) – preferably as cash direct payments. However, most older people opt for their council to manage personal budgets on their behalf. It is not clear what benefits of personalisation are available to this group of older people. This article reports research into the choices available to older people using managed personal budgets to fund home care services in three councils. It focuses on the roles of support planners, in councils and service provider agencies, who are central to supporting choice on the part of service users. Data were collected from three focus groups with 19 council support planning practitioners and interviews with 15 managers of home care agencies.

    • Findings: The study suggests that new commissioning and brokerage arrangements have the potential to give older people using managed personal budgets greater choice and control over their support. However, new communication barriers have also been introduced and some staff report receiving inadequate training for their new roles. Above all, resource constraints were reported to impede council support planners in encouraging users to plan creatively how to use personal budgets. Resource constraints also meant councils placed constraints on how flexibly home care agencies could respond to changing needs and preferences of older users.

     Applications: The paper concludes by highlighting the implications of new arrangements for social work practice and some of the barriers that need to be addressed if the potential benefits of personalisation for older people holding managed personal budgets are to be achieved.

    April 23, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315581529   open full text
  • Building resilience through group visual arts activities: Findings from a scoping study with young people who experience mental health complexities and/or learning difficulties.
    Macpherson, H., Hart, A., Heaver, B.
    Journal of Social Work. April 23, 2015

    This article reports research that aimed to identify and evaluate potential resilience benefits of visual arts interventions for young people with complex needs. The study involved a review of the ‘arts for resilience’ literature and a case study of 10 weekly resilience-building arts workshops for 10 young people experiencing mental health complexities and/or learning difficulties.


    We found a significant existing evidence-base linking visual arts practice to individual and community resilience, across disciplinary fields including art therapy, social work, community health, visual arts practice and geographies of health. Visual art activities were utilised to both educate young people about resilience and enhance young people’s overall resilience. Qualitative research material developed from the case study shows that even short-term visual arts interventions can impact on young people’s resilience – crucially, participation was extremely beneficial to young people’s sense of belonging and ability to cope with difficult feelings (topics which arose repeatedly during interview, focus group discussion and observation).


    Our review and findings from this small case study provide some initial insights into the resilience benefits of participation in visual arts activities. This, combined with the resilience-based practice framework presented here, could aid the effective targeting of interventions for social workers and others working with young people with complex needs. Alongside this research paper, an arts for resilience practice guide has been produced by the project team (including young people). It contains instructions on how to conduct a range of practical visual arts activities that we identified as being resilience-promoting.

    April 23, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315581772   open full text
  • Cultural representations in Walt Disney films: Implications for social work education.
    van Wormer, K., Juby, C.
    Journal of Social Work. April 23, 2015

    Summary: This article investigates images of race, sex, ethnicity, and consumerism in contemporary Walt Disney productions. The purpose is to discuss the reinforcement of critical thinking skills in social work students through mutual examination of multicultural images presented in Disney movies. The films selected for close critical examination – The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Princess and the Frog – are those with multicultural themes and characters. In recognition of the fact that the one who controls the arts controls the message, this article is informed by bell hooks’ methods of critique of racialized and sexualized representations in children’s film.

    Findings: The hidden messages in the popular Disney films should not be overlooked. The methods of critique applied to these earlier films also have resonance for the newer films, such as Frozen.

    Applications: The case is made in this article that social work educators can enhance the critical thinking of students concerning culturally offensive, stereotypical images conveyed in the media.

    April 23, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315583173   open full text
  • Prepared enough to practise? Evaluating a study programme in social work.
    Engelberg, E., Limbach-Reich, A.
    Journal of Social Work. April 23, 2015

    Following the so-called Bologna reform in Luxembourg, 70 supervisors assessed the knowledge and skills of employees having qualified with a Bachelor’s degree under the recently introduced curriculum in social work and pedagogy. The supervisors were solicited as part of quality assurance regarding the study programme and their assessments were gathered by means of a questionnaire. The University of Luxembourg funded the study.


    The newly qualified practitioners were evaluated as adequately trained, while the need was highlighted for a better understanding of the process through which beginner practitioners are socialised into the profession. The results furthermore suggest that practice proficiency extensively draws on generic skills of particular relevance to the social professions.


    The findings prompt a more specific focus on generic skills and their role in developing proficiency during practice placements as well as during the first year of employment. Overall, the study serves as one example of how to evaluate the readiness to practise of newly qualified practitioners in the social professions. The output of such skills assessments could inform on any need for curriculum revision at a local level. With a cross-national and comparative approach, evaluations of this kind could potentially guide any adaptations needed in response to the increasing internationalisation of social problems.

    April 23, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315583172   open full text
  • Foster caregiver insightfulness and emotional investment in foster children.
    Koren-Karie, N., Markman-Gefen, R.
    Journal of Social Work. April 16, 2015

    The study examined foster caregivers’ insightfulness (Oppenheim & Koren-Karie, 2009) and emotional investment (Bates & Dozier, 2002) in a sample of foster caregivers living in family group homes. Thirty caregivers were observed with two of the several children under their care: one identified by the social worker of the family group home as the most challenging child in the home, and one identified as the least challenging one. Study questions focused on the correlation between children’s levels of challenging behaviors and their foster caregivers’ insightfulness and emotional investment.


    Results suggest that children’s challenging behaviors are associated with their caregivers’ emotional investment but not with their insightfulness. Caregivers tended to show similar patterns of insightfulness toward both easy and challenging children, but tended to show higher emotional investment in easy children than in more challenging ones.


    The results demonstrate the complexity of foster parenting and the need to include both insightfulness and emotional investment in the supervision and training of foster parents.

    April 16, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315581528   open full text
  • 'Money makes the world go around': Social workers in parliamentary finance committees in Israel.
    Weiss-Gal, I., Nouman, H.
    Journal of Social Work. March 27, 2015

    The study examined social workers’ participation in two powerful parliamentary committees in Israel: the Finance Committee (FC) and the Economics Affairs Committee (EAC). It sought to better understand the characteristics of social workers who participated in these committees, their inputs, and to uncover differences between these findings and those on social workers in other parliamentary committees. Qualitative and quantitative content analyses were conducted on the minutes of the committees’ sessions between 1999–2013.


    At least one social worker spoke in 50 of the FC sessions and in 26 of the EAC sessions. These sessions dealt with a wide range of subjects, including national and local social services budgets, social problems, and vulnerable populations. The social workers expressed opinions on deficiencies in social policies and made recommendations for dealing with social problems. Their opinions conveyed support for social provision in a period in which the neo-liberal discourse was in ascendant. They also provided information on diverse aspects of current social policies. Most of the social worker participants were employed in the government sector.


    In terms of theory, the study augments our knowledge of social workers as policy actors. In terms of practice, it shows that finance committees are relevant and accessible arenas of social work activity. Awareness of the inputs and the roles identified can enable social workers to better understand their potential contribution to the discussions of such committees and conceptualize their possible roles in them.

    March 27, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315579305   open full text
  • Transferability of the youth foyer model for women exiting the criminal justice system.
    Grace, M., Malone, J., Murphy, A.
    Journal of Social Work. March 27, 2015

    This article reports on research with an Australian Homelessness Prevention Project, Restart, which set out to test the transferability of a Youth Foyer model for women exiting prison. The aim of the program was to prevent homelessness for this group of women by stabilising both housing and employment. The program design included a comprehensive package of services including support, housing, and assistance with finding employment. The research methods included analysis of program data, and interviews with program staff and clients.


    The research found that while the Restart model was described as an adult foyer model, it had some characteristics of a Youth Foyer model and some characteristics of a Housing First model. The imperative to be employed within 12 months in order to be able to afford the housing prevented the program from supporting women to pursue longer-term goals such as education and training which typify youth foyers. Although the program had only limited success with assisting the women to find employment, it demonstrated that intensive assistance that includes support and housing can assist women to stabilise their lives and avoid re-offending post release.


    This research indicates that it would be worthwhile to pursue a model that provides social housing that is permanent and will be affordable in the long term, facilitates employment by establishing corporate partnerships, perhaps with social enterprises, and assists women to establish longer-term goals and undertake education and training in order to provide them with better labour market access in the future.

    March 27, 2015   doi: 10.1177/1468017315579306   open full text
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection: A sample from the Victorian Children's Court.
    Bortoli, L. D., Coles, J., Dolan, M.
    Journal of Social Work. April 10, 2014

    This article reports on a comparison of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) and non-ATSI children involved in the child protection system sampled from the Victorian Children’s Court. Groups were compared in terms of demographic profile, the types and grounds for protection applications and the types of abuse proven in court.


    Our results highlight similarities between ATSI and non-ATSI children in the child protection system, a finding that indicates similar children, regardless of background, are being found to be at increased risk of abuse. The over-representation of ATSI children in the sample indicates a continued social and economic disadvantage associated with this group, requiring ongoing public health preventive measures. Our study also highlighted the longer term involvement of ATSI children with child protection services before reaching court. This may be explained by differences in case management policies affecting ATSI children in the child protection system as well as the ongoing legacy of the Stolen Generation.


    In addition to addressing underlying inequalities, advancing the ATSI people towards self-determination in child protection may reduce the over-representation and longer term involvement with the child protection system. Importantly, alternative approaches must be considered as the potential trauma associated with longer term child protection involvement is greater in children of ATSI background.

    April 10, 2014   doi: 10.1177/1468017314529511   open full text
  • The illness narratives of men involved in the criminal justice system: A study of health behaviors, chronic conditions, and HIV/AIDS.
    Valera, P., Kratz, M.
    Journal of Social Work. October 15, 2013

    Summary: Former inmates encounter a variety of challenges when returning to their community, including poor health status and limited access to healthcare services. This qualitative study examined how former male inmates with chronic conditions perceived, understood, managed, and coped with their illnesses.

    Findings: The participants were Black and Puerto Rican, with a mean age of 47 years, who were interviewed within three years of their release. Participants reported at least one chronic condition, with 21 HIV-negative men using chaos narratives to depict their approach to disease management. Nine HIV-positive men used quest narratives to present their illnesses and were immediately linked to supportive services, enabling them to overcome the barriers to community reintegration.

    Applications: Health interventions in the area of forensic social work ought to focus on conducting Medicaid outreach and enrollment efforts prior to correctional facility discharge.

    October 15, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313503944   open full text
  • Family teacher and parent perceptions of youth needs and preparedness for transition upon discharge from residential care.
    Trout, A. L., Hoffman, S., Epstein, M. H., Thompson, R. W.
    Journal of Social Work. October 15, 2013

    Summary: The purpose of this study was to compare parent (N = 51) and family teacher (N = 102) ratings of perceptions of aftercare for youth reintegrating into the home and community settings following a stay in residential care.

    Findings: The results show large differences between treatment providers and parents as to the level of youth preparedness for transition.

    Applications: Youth leaving residential care facilities struggle to maintain the gains they make during their time in treatment. Understanding what residential care providers and parents of youth perceive to be most important for youth during this transition period is essential to the youth’s long-term success.

    October 15, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313506134   open full text
  • The role of the Government in addressing social issues in Ghana: The perceptions of Ghanaian undergraduate social work students.
    Castillo, J. T., Asante, S., Becerra, D., Dwumah, P., Barnie, J. A.
    Journal of Social Work. October 15, 2013

    Summary: Data for this exploratory study were drawn from a sample of 185 Ghanaian social work students from one university in Ghana in the Fall of 2010. Complementary log–log ordinal logistic regressions were run to analyze the relationship between Ghanaian social work students’ sociodemographic variables and their perceptions of the central government’s role in addressing social issues in Ghana.

    Findings: The results of this study demonstrated that there are indeed differences between Ghanaian social work students by age, gender, marital status, and number of children on their perceptions of the role of the government in addressing social issues in Ghana. The findings revealed that social work students who were female, younger, nonmarried, or without children were more likely to perceive that the government should ensure employment, health insurance, and equal opportunities to Ghanaians. Moreover, the findings revealed that social work students with one or more children were less likely to perceive that the government should ensure health insurance.

    Applications: Social work administrators and educators may wish to make several changes to undergraduate social work students’ coursework and practicum placement training that requires social work students to take and complete (a) theoretical courses that emphasize concepts associated with human rights and social justice, (b) diversity courses that emphasize the intersection between age, gender, marital status, poverty, and inequality in Ghana, (c) macro courses that emphasize the historical, political, economic, and social realms of the district, regional, and central governments in Ghana, and (d) practicum placements at macro public sector organizations.

    October 15, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313506133   open full text
  • Self reported experiences of therapy following child sexual abuse: Messages from a retrospective survey of adult survivors.
    Allnock, D., Hynes, P., Archibald, M.
    Journal of Social Work. October 10, 2013

    • Summary: This article explores retrospective accounts of childhood sexual abuse survivors’ experiences of therapeutic support received before the age of 18 in the United Kingdom. The survey formed part of a broad programme of research on therapeutic interventions for children affected by sexual abuse, by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) under the Rebuilding Childhoods programme. The primary aim of the survey was to explore what was helpful in young survivors’ experiences (n= 299) of therapy to inform the development of a new NSPCC service. Of these 299 respondents (aged 18–35), only 52 reported receiving formal therapeutic provision following the abuse and this article relates to this smaller subset.

    • Findings: Respondents revealed that therapeutic factors such as therapist characteristics and interpersonal communication were crucial in informing their perceptions of therapy received. However, pre-therapy factors such as high level of need and unstable personal circumstances at the time of accessing support also influenced respondent ability to engage in the therapeutic process. Although the types of therapy accessed differed for respondents, there were common elements reported relating to therapist characteristics and skills which were important in determining respondent views.

    • Applications: The findings suggest that while there is no one-size-fits all approach, there are key characteristics of the relationship between child and therapist that must be considered and that assessment and on-going professional judgement is key to engaging children and maximising their therapeutic experiences. The findings also suggest the importance of listening to children’s preferences and keeping children informed.

    October 10, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313504717   open full text
  • The process of professionalisation: Exploring the identities of child protection social workers.
    Leigh, J. T.
    Journal of Social Work. October 07, 2013

    Summary: This article discusses the findings from a qualitative study, which explored how a group of social workers might construct their professional identity. By drawing from Freidson’s theoretical perspective of professionalisation and applying it to the field of child protection a different meaning of ‘profession’ has emerged.

    Findings: By seeking the views and reflections on what it means to be a professional, the stories that emerged provided these practitioners with distinctive social positions and statuses to take up within the professionalisation process. The narratives also contradicted Freidson’s argument: for subject to both discourses of derision and attacks from countervailing forces present not only on the inside but on the outside of the discipline, these social workers have had to develop their own unique defensive techniques in order to survive. If Freidson had been an insider to a profession and used the method of narrative interviewing when carrying out his work, his conclusions may have been quite different.

    Applications: This study contributes to debates about professions using the method of narrative interviewing with social workers. By using this approach and talking directly to the professionals within the field of child protection, who have to deal first hand with certain cultural scripts, a different definition of ‘profession’ has been extended.

    October 07, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313504380   open full text
  • Researching collaborative processes in domestic violence perpetrator programs: Benchmarking for situation improvement.
    Diemer, K., Humphreys, C., Laming, C., Smith, J.
    Journal of Social Work. October 07, 2013

    Summary: This article reports on research undertaken in Victoria, Australia with workers from men’s behavior change programs (perpetrator programs) to explore the extent of the collaborative processes established with police, child protection, and other human service organizations. It poses the question: how do regional collaborative arrangements and the pathways to referral reflect the responsiveness of men’s behavior change programs to domestic violence service integration? It builds on a strand of research highlighting the significance of the wider domestic violence intervention system in holding men who use violence accountable.

    Findings: A research tool was designed around a Practice Matrix to outline different dimensions against which expectations of collaboration could be benchmarked in men’s behavior change programs. It was found that at this early stage within the domestic violence reform process in Victoria that the integration of programs within the wider domestic violence sector was relatively undeveloped. The feedback loops between agencies, which enable reporting on attendance, breaches of intervention orders, changes to the risk assessment, and progress at formal review points were relatively undeveloped. However, the formal engagement within domestic violence regional committees and with police was more developed.

    Application: Social workers, particularly in the vulnerable children’s area provide referrals to men’s behavior change programs. Active involvement in feedback, risk assessment review, monitoring for change support the accountability and collaborative effort required to strengthen the effectiveness of men’s behavior change and enhance the safety of women and their children.

    October 07, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313504682   open full text
  • Education and employment training supports for newcomers to Canada's middle-sized urban/rural regions: Implications for social work practice.
    Sethi, B.
    Journal of Social Work. October 07, 2013

    The last decade has witnessed the movement of immigrants from Canada’s largest urban centers—Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal—to smaller urban-rural communities. Nevertheless, very little scholarship exists on newcomer integration in these communities. Furthermore, social work literature examining the perspective of service providers who work with newcomers is lacking. Grand Erie is a middle-sized urban/rural region in Ontario, Canada that is experiencing increased migration of newcomers. This paper focuses on a part of a larger Community-based participatory research on ‘Newcomer Settlement and Integration in Education, Training, Employment, Health and Social Support’ in Grand Erie and discusses the findings in the education and training domain. Data were gathered from 212 newcomers (men and women) and 237 service providers using survey questionnaires.

    Findings: Most of the newcomers in this study had not taken any education or employment courses post-migration. The qualitative and quantitative responses from participants (newcomers and service providers) highlight a lack of affordable child care and poor transportation infrastructure in this region as significant barriers to newcomers’ ability to take education or employment courses especially in case of visible minority women.

    Applications: The results of the study suggest that there is an opportunity for social workers to build partnerships with community agencies as well as with policy-makers at regional and provincial levels to foster the social, economic, and political integration of new immigrants in the host society.

    October 07, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313504795   open full text
  • Stepparenting issues and relationship quality: The role of clear communication.
    Pace, G. T., Shafer, K., Jensen, T. M., Larson, J. H.
    Journal of Social Work. October 02, 2013

    Summary: Using data from a sample of RELATE (the RELATionship Evaluation Survey) respondents in stepfamilies (N = 560), this study examined the association between relationship quality (satisfaction and stability) and stepparenting issues. Although stepparenting issues can negatively impact romantic partners in stepfamilies, we suggest that high-quality communication may be a protective factor for individuals and couples stressed by their relationship with a nonbiological child.

    Findings: Our results show that stepparenting issues are negatively associated with satisfaction and stability, but is partially mediated by clear-sending communication. Further, this mediation is stronger for women when considering satisfaction and for men when considering stability.

    Applications: Our results show that stepparenting issues can be a strong sense of discord among romantic couples. Yet, they also indicate that clear-sending communication in relationships can substantially reduce the negative association of these issues with relationship quality. This finding suggests that therapeutic models that focus on emotionally focused couples therapy, structural family therapy, or address issues within the family system may be best for addressing common problems in stepfamilies.

    October 02, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313504508   open full text
  • Social capital and life satisfaction among Chinese and Korean elderly immigrants.
    Kim, B. J., Linton, K. F., Lum, W.
    Journal of Social Work. September 27, 2013

    Summary: Research has indicated that many Asian Americans experience life dissatisfaction. Studies have also found that social capital is a protective factor for life satisfaction. This study analyzed the impact of social capital and other demographic characteristics on the life satisfaction of 172 Chinese elderly immigrants and 205 Korean elderly immigrants. Chinese and Korean elderly immigrants participated in a structured survey, which measured social capital, life satisfaction, and demographic variables. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to test the impact of social capital on life satisfaction among Chinese and Korean elderly immigrants.

    Findings: Social capital was a strong predictor of life satisfaction among Korean elderly immigrants (p < . 05), while only one aspect of social capital, community partnership, was associated with life satisfaction of Chinese elderly immigrants (p < .05).

    Applications: Social workers and social service agencies may improve life satisfaction among Korean and Chinese elderly immigrants by increasing their social capital.

    September 27, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313504699   open full text
  • The Luhmannian approach to exclusion/inclusion and its relevance to Social Work1.
    Schirmer, W., Michailakis, D.
    Journal of Social Work. September 27, 2013

    Summary: Although the concept of social exclusion is central to the academic discipline of social work, there is not much theoretical clarity about what it actually means. For instance, exclusion is used as a synonym for poverty, marginalization, detachment, unemployment, or solitude. We argue that the systems-theoretical framework developed by the German social theorist Niklas Luhmann (1927–1997) provides the conceptual tools to understand inclusion and exclusion in a theoretically adequate way that is highly relevant to Social Work.

    Since there is scarcely any literature on Luhmann's work in the field of social work not written in German, this article aims to provide a systematic introduction to the Luhmannian theory of society with respect to the distinction of inclusion/exclusion and its relation to social work to an English-speaking audience.

    Findings: After a presentation of some basic concepts, it will be argued that exclusion is not a problem per se nor is inclusion always and per se unproblematic. The Luhmannian approach suggests that inclusion and exclusion are operations of social systems that treat human beings as relevant addresses for communication. Against that background, systems theory gives a clear and accurate description of what social work can (and cannot) do in terms of inclusion/exclusion.

    Applications: The main purpose of social work is exclusion management. Exclusion management involves working on the social addresses of individuals with the aim of improving their attractiveness for other social systems, a (re)orientation towards being includable. It appears in three forms: exclusion prevention, inclusion mediation, and exclusion administration.

    September 27, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313504607   open full text
  • Subjective well-being, social work and the environment: The impact of the socio-political context of practice on social worker happiness.
    Shier, M. L., Graham, J. R.
    Journal of Social Work. September 23, 2013

    Summary: The environmental context of direct social work practice has been found to impact social worker subjective well-being. Most research focus on the geographic and cultural characteristics of that practice environment. To expand this knowledge domain a qualitative inquiry has been undertaken to understand what aspects of the socio-political environment impacted social worker well-being.

    Findings: This qualitative study, with a sample of social workers (n = 19), found three themes related to the socio-political environment that can contribute to practitioner well-being. Respondents identified that their subjective well-being is impacted by: (1) perceptions of practitioners by community members, (2) conflict with social work program mandates, and (3) changes with the social welfare system.

    Applications: Possible methods of addressing these issues to improve workplace functioning for social workers are discussed along with areas of future research.

    September 23, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313503449   open full text
  • Black social work students' experiences of practice learning: Understanding differential progression rates.
    Fairtlough, A., Bernard, C., Fletcher, J., Ahmet, A.
    Journal of Social Work. September 12, 2013

    Summary: As a group, Black and ethnic minority students progress more slowly on their social work programmes in England than their white counterparts. The article reports on a qualitative study with social work students and key informants in a purposive sample of eight social work programmes.

    Findings: Factors relating to the characteristics of individual students, the social work programme, the HEI and practice learning environments appeared to be affecting student experience and progression. The article focuses on practice learning. Many student participants reported experiences of disadvantaged educational backgrounds, economic pressures and caring responsibilities. Key informants in some sites described particular challenges faced by these students. Students reported experiences of racism in placements where the majority of staff or service users were white.

    Application: Concepts drawn from work by Pierre Bourdieu such as ‘habitus’, ‘field’ and ‘social and cultural capital’ are used to make sense of these findings. Some practical ways in which social work programmes might seek to counter educational disparities and racism faced by black and ethnic minority students are suggested: these include monitoring systems, training for practice educators and tutors, support for black and ethnic minority students and agreements between HEIs and placement providers.

    September 12, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313500416   open full text
  • Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: What determines the judgements of Best Interests Assessors? A factorial survey.
    Carpenter, J., Langan, J., Patsios, D., Jepson, M.
    Journal of Social Work. September 12, 2013

    Summary: The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards were introduced in England and Wales to protect the interests of people with learning disabilities, dementia and neurological conditions resident in hospitals and care homes. The Safeguards apply when residents lack capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment in circumstances that may amount to a deprivation of their liberty. Best Interests Assessors must establish whether a deprivation of liberty has occurred. However, there is no definition in statute; instead, the identification of factors which define a deprivation of liberty is evolving through case law. A factorial survey was used to identify the factors which influenced the professional judgements of 93 Best Interests Assessors (three-quarters social workers) who generated 798 responses to randomly generated vignettes.

    Findings: Coercive staff behaviour was the strongest statistical predictor of a deprivation of liberty judgement, followed by the resident’s response. Other indicators of staff control, including the use of medication to reduce agitation, restriction of movement and family unhappiness with care were also significant. The resident’s condition, gender/age and the setting were not significant predictors. Best Interests Assessors were generally confident in their decision making; there were no differences in confidence associated with Best Interests Assessors’ professions.

    Applications: Reviews of the operation of the Safeguards stress significant complexity in defining a deprivation of liberty. Nevertheless, this study suggests that the factors which Best Interests Assessors take into account are rooted in the fundamental principles of the Safeguards and an informed appreciation of case law. Best Interests Assessors and local authorities, in their role as supervisory bodies, must keep up to date with developments.

    September 12, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313504180   open full text
  • A critical analysis of workforce development research use in the transformation of children's services.
    Curran, T., Oliver, B., Benjamin, C.
    Journal of Social Work. April 03, 2013

    Summary: This article is based on a study commissioned to find out how agencies providing children’s services in England used workforce development research in the transformation of children’s services. Workforce development research is primarily about how new organisational practices are learnt, embedded and developed. Survey and case study methods provided broad and in-depth data that was mapped against a typology developed to capture a diverse range of research activities.

    Findings: Three cross-cutting themes were identified from the analysis: the involvement of children and young people in workforce development research; the development of reflective practice; and the significance of inter-organisational learning cultures. Workforce development research can contribute to a creative culture of inquiry shaping change processes especially where both practitioners and children and young people are involved. In some specialist areas a lack of engagement was attributed to the demands of complex practice and bureaucracy, but in other similar contexts, learning cultures were evident.

    Application: Accounts of learning cultures producing active concepts of childhood link with ‘new’ childhood studies and contrast with accounts of crisis management informed by individualised models of ‘problem families’ highlighted in critiques of neo-liberal forms of government. The study shows that this opposition is not an inevitable consequence of complex practice or service configuration per se, but is contingent on a range of supporting factors such as partnerships with universities. To strengthen the exponential impact of research use illustrated, a participatory approach to organisational research strategy is advanced.

    April 03, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313477977   open full text
  • A different kind of practice? Meanings attached by practitioners to the idea of 'adult protection'.
    Sherwood-Johnson, F.
    Journal of Social Work. April 03, 2013

    Summary: This article began with an observation made during re-analysis of the dataset from a study of Scottish adult support and protection practice. Namely, different practitioners could mean different things when they said they had been doing ‘adult protection’ work. For this article, therefore, practitioners’ conceptualisations of adult protection work were hypothesised inductively from the dataset, and refined into categories through a process of constant comparison, open and axial coding. The dataset comprised material from case files and practitioner interviews relating to 23 ‘adults at risk’.

    Findings: When practitioners said they had been doing ‘adult protection’ work, they could mean that: (a) they perceived themselves to have been responding to abuse, harm or high risk; and/or (b) they were adopting a certain formal, even coercive tone of work; and/or (c) they had formally flagged the work as adult protection, including through the use of procedures. Practitioners drew on and combined these meanings in different ways. They also varied in the extent to which they saw adult protection as a distinctive type of practice and/or as different from what had gone before.

    Applications: Support and protection work involves nuanced judgements about the nature and intentions of policy, about how these relate to particular situations and about how best to translate them into practice. Time and support is required for this complex work. Further research is needed to deepen understandings of the practice context, particularly with respect to risk. Policy-makers should engage with such research as they continue to develop adult protection/safeguarding policies.

    April 03, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313479857   open full text
  • Systematic review: The nature and extent of social work research on substance use disorders treatment interventions among African Americans.
    Clark, T. T., McGovern, P., Mgbeokwere, D., Wooten, N., Owusu, H., McGraw, K. A.
    Journal of Social Work. April 03, 2013

    Summary: Little is known about the contribution made by social workers to empirical evidence on substance use disorders treatment, especially interventions for African Americans. This article presents a systematic review of 23 articles, presentations, and dissertations written by social workers that focus on substance use disorders treatment interventions with African Americans. The aim of this review is to estimate the extent of contribution made by social workers to the research knowledge base on substance use disorders treatment interventions that are effective among African Americans, and to assess the methodological quality of those studies.

    Findings: The review shows social workers’ contributions to research examining substance use disorders treatment interventions with African Americans is inadequate and the methodological rigor of these studies is slightly below average. Of the 23 articles examined, few studies included only African American samples, and most investigated substance use disorders treatment interventions in samples with a small percentage of African American participants. Moreover, most of the reviewed studies were published between 1994 and 2010 in non-social work journals and were cited an average of 6.67 times.

    Applications: The social work profession must increase its contribution to the empirical knowledge base on substance use disorders intervention research with African Americans because it is essential to the provision of culturally sensitive, evidence-based practice to African Americans. More quasi-experimental and experimental designs are needed to compare multiple evidence-based treatments across diverse populations, and to determine causality between treatment processes and outcomes.

    April 03, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313479858   open full text
  • A framework for the analysis of the social processes in the adoption of disabled children.
    Bunt, S.
    Journal of Social Work. March 22, 2013

    Summary: There is a dearth of literature on the adoption of disabled children within the UK, and that which has been published is somewhat dated and often characterised by largely empiricist approach, which is perhaps surprising in view of the fact that the study of adult disability has benefited so greatly from an understanding of the social processes involved. Cousins (2009), for example, has suggested that disabled children are profoundly disadvantaged in the adoption process by the negativity associated with the social construction of disability.

    Findings: This article seeks to develop a framework that provides a theoretically informed and multidimensional approach to the understanding of the adoption of disabled children. It does so by drawing on Layder's delineation of different levels of analysis. This entails examining wider macro features that influence adoption processes, right through to the micro interactions between adopters and adoption agencies. The article also applies Bourdieu's concept of the habitus to assist in our understanding of how individual agents internalise the messages around them, which can influence and mediate their actions in adoption.

    Application: This framework indicates that adoption outcomes for disabled children can only be understood within wider social processes, which can affect not only individual adoptions themselves, but also the practice of adoption generally. This has implications for both research and practice, for if, on the one hand, it provides a more comprehensive framework for the conduct of research, and it also potentially enables practice to be informed by wider considerations other than those occurring in the immediate context of the adoption.

    March 22, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313478901   open full text
  • Between the cultural and the professional in management: The experiences of Arab public welfare agency managers in Israel.
    Buchbinder, E., Siman, L.
    Journal of Social Work. March 21, 2013

    Summary: This article examines the dilemmas and coping of Arab public welfare agency managers in Israel, who operate within a culture whose collectivist values may clash with professional social work values. The article is based on qualitative interviews with 12 welfare agency managers in Arab villages in Israel.

    Findings: Analysis of the interviews revealed three focal areas of conflict. The first stems from the managers’ need to balance between their role as service providers and the politics of municipal administration. The second stems from the perception of gender in a patriarchal society. The third stems from the clients’ perception of the managers’ geographical and religious origins.

    Applications: The discussion analyzes the dilemmas through social construction and culture lenses.

    March 21, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313477831   open full text
  • Juvenile offenders' perceptions of probation officers as social workers in Hong Kong.
    Chui, W. H., Chan, H. C.
    Journal of Social Work. March 21, 2013

    Summary: There is virtually no information available on how juvenile offenders perceive the role of Hong Kong probation officers as social workers. This study explores 113 male juvenile probationers' perceptions of their probation officers and the probation service. Drawing from the existing literature, scales are developed to measure both domains.

    Findings: These juvenile probationers generally perceived their probation officer as relatively authoritarian or punitive. Interestingly, juveniles supervised by females perceived officers to be more authoritarian or punitive than those supervised by males. Using exploratory factor analyses, two scales, Perceptions of the Assigned Probation Officer (PAPO) and Perceptions of the Job Nature of Probation Officers (PJNPO) are developed. An ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analysis shows that probation officers are perceived to be more authoritarian or punitive by older juveniles and those supervised by females.

    Applications: These juvenile probationers’ perceptions are generally inconsistent with the operational objectives of the Hong Kong probation system, whereby probation officers are expected to be rehabilitative agents who facilitate community reintegration. Continuing civic education for young people, with an emphasis on providing accurate information about the probation system and the role of officers, would be desirable. Probation officers may also consider adopting the pro-social modeling approach that emphasizes pro-social values and behaviors in their interaction with probationers. Most importantly, a genuine working relationship between probation officers and probationers should be established. The supervision plan should be tailored to individuals' needs and capabilities, with a mutually-agreed outcome of crime desistance.

    March 21, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313478291   open full text
  • There are no shortcuts: Trusting the social work training process.
    Hantman, S., Ben Oz, M.
    Journal of Social Work. March 21, 2013

    Summary: The article explors the effects of a disrupting situation on the professional socialization process of social work students. It relates to the various phases of developing the role of consistency of the process and its effect on the student's development as a social worker. Students worked with refugees in a makeshift camp in wartime, professional identity and self-efficacy as they appear in the literature. In the absence of supervisors and other social workers, surrounded by an extremely distressed population, students confronted a series of acute, challenging problems without having had adequate academic or pratice preparation. In spite of this, students entered this activity with an enthusiastic approach wanting to provide help and support to the population of the camp.

    Findings: Two months after their work at the refugee camp, students reported a sense of powerlessness and insignificance in their field placements – feelings that we think were related to the disruption of their structured training program. This incongruence created a dissonance for the students who found it difficult to bridge a connection between their academic field experiences and their wartime role. After sharing their ambivalence with faculty members through focus groups they worked through their feelings

    Applications: Student social workers can be a valuable source of manpower in man-made or natural disasters; but teachers and supervisors must bear in mind their responsibility to carefully reintegrate them into the normal academic training process following such an experience.

    March 21, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313478351   open full text
  • Towards a competence-based evaluation framework: The personal growth of volunteers in a child injury prevention program.
    Chan, C. C., Chan, K., Tsui, M.-S., Kwok, A.
    Journal of Social Work. March 21, 2013

    Summary: In this study, the researchers created a development-oriented evaluation framework, which provides constructive feedback on the personal growth of volunteers. To assess the process by which a volunteer becomes a competent practitioner, a competence taxonomy with five levels of attainment was adopted.

    Findings: The competence of volunteers could be measured by the volunteers' attainments in three areas: degree of commitment, acquisition of knowledge, and utilization of skills. A competence-based evaluation framework of volunteer progress ensures that volunteers receive structured and constructive feedback.

    Applications: The proposed development-oriented evaluation tool will help keep track of volunteers' progress and encourage the development of personalized strategies according to each volunteer's needs. It will also be informative to the quality improvement of volunteer services.

    March 21, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313479080   open full text
  • The development of resilience in social work students and professionals.
    Palma-Garcia, M. d. l. O., Hombrados-Mendieta, I.
    Journal of Social Work. March 18, 2013

    Summary: This study analyzes whether resilience, defined as a process rather than as a static response over time, is associated with social work. The main aim was to determine whether social work increases resilience in students and professionals during training and when practicing the profession. The sample consisted of 613 university students and professionals from Malaga (Spain).

    Findings: The longitudinal study of social work students indicated statistically significant within-subjects differences during their university course in the components of resilience (personal competence, acceptance of self and life, and social support). Regarding professionals, the results show a positive association between years of experience and their acceptance of self and life and coping with workplace adversity.

    Applications: Implications include the need to focus on the development of positive experiences during training and the practice of social work, such as the capacity to be resilient.

    March 18, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313478290   open full text
  • Exploring the role of independent organisations in care coordination for older people in England.
    Xie, C., Hughes, J., Chester, H., Sutcliffe, C., Challis, D.
    Journal of Social Work. March 18, 2013

    Summary: Social care policies advocate the provision of coordinated care and the involvement of the independent sector in service planning and delivery. This study explores the characteristics of the independent organisations involved in care coordination for older people, the tasks undertaken, and management of the interface between the commissioning authorities and these organisations. The findings are based on semistructured telephone interviews conducted in 2009 with representatives from 25 local authorities in England regarding 40 organisations.

    Findings: All organisations identified are voluntary in nature. They were diverse in terms of size, staffing, and history, typically undertaking care coordination for discrete user groups but few exclusively for older people. A range of care coordination activities were reported: assessment, brokerage, support planning, and monitoring and review. The extent of their involvement in these activities varied markedly. Commissioning and contracting arrangements differed; most organisations had short-term contracts. The main mechanism of contract monitoring was activity data returns; there was a lack of more detailed service evaluation. Both opportunities and challenges exist with regard to the future role of voluntary organisations in care coordination.

    Applications: This study highlights the potential for voluntary organisations to undertake care coordination activities. To achieve this, partnership working between service commissioners and these organisations is required, and funding and support are essential for provider organisations to develop appropriate infrastructures. Information governance arrangements are required to facilitate information sharing. The potential expansion of the role of voluntary organisations and the implications for practitioners with respect to their employment prospects are explored.

    March 18, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313478330   open full text
  • Qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis in social work research: Uncharted territory.
    Aguirre, R. T., Bolton, K. W.
    Journal of Social Work. March 11, 2013

    Summary: The authors present the field of social work with a methodology specifically aimed at the synthesis of qualitative research informed by existing methods and applications yet tailored to the unique values and goals of the profession of social work.

    Findings: Though qualitative research in social work is commonplace, currently, the field lacks a methodology to synthesize these qualitative studies. A synthesis of qualitative studies results in generation of a more in-depth understanding of the phenomena studied that can be used to develop theory and inform practice and policy.

    Applications: This methodology enables synergistic understanding of phenomena with richness in diversity of settings, participants, and qualitative traditions. This synergistic understanding can be used to develop theory and inform practice and policy.

    March 11, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313476797   open full text
  • Child welfare in Ghana: The relevance of children's rights in practice.
    Manful, E., Manful, S. E.
    Journal of Social Work. March 11, 2013

    Summary: When Ghana ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) it made a commitment to ensure compliance with the UNCRC by reviewing its children and youth social policies. Yet, to date, there is little empirical evidence that compares how children’s rights are perceived by professionals at the strategic and operational levels in Ghana. Thus, this article seeks to provide an insight by comparing the two professional levels. Drawing on in-depth interview data with government personnel who have strategic responsibilities of child care policies and with operational staff in a residential child care institution we analyse how the relevance of children’s rights is constructed by these two groups.

    Findings: It is concluded that at both professional levels the concept of children’s rights is associated with legislation and institutions, rhetoric of rights and child participation. However, for many of the operational staff children’s rights appeared to be an abstract concept even though it was central to their daily work.

    Applications: The study suggests that implementation of the UNCRC has so far remained largely at the policy level, as a result, very little has been accomplished to advance children’s rights in terms of changing the relationship between the State and children. It is therefore critical to organise more child rights training for professionals who are engaged in direct work with and/for children at all levels of the Ghanaian society to inform their practice. Further, the training needs to rectify the limitation and misconstrual of the concept of children’s rights to only child participation.

    March 11, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313477756   open full text
  • Personalisation, family relationships and autism: Conceptualising the role of adult siblings.
    Atkin, K., Tozer, R.
    Journal of Social Work. March 06, 2013

    Summary: Current policy discourses demonstrate a weak connection to broader theoretical debates about family obligation and in particular how family responsibilities become negotiated over time and across the life course. How policy imagines family care can, therefore, be different to the actual experiences of families. This qualitative paper, using semi-structured interviews, explores the experience of a particularly neglected group, adult siblings, who have a brother or sister with autism (plus learning disability). We spoke to 21 adult siblings, met with 12 of their siblings with autism and talked to 12 health and social care professionals.

    Findings: Our analysis suggests that connectedness and commitment, which remained subject to continuous redefinition by all family members, informed sibling relationships Practitioners, however, struggle to engage with this complexity, thereby undermining the extent siblings’ relationships can be realised.

    Application: The paper concludes that policy initiatives are at risk of becoming an uneasy compromise, in which the need to offer choice occurs alongside the ‘problem’ of managing family care. Sibling relationships are more than simply ‘being of’ or ‘belonging to’ a family. They are dynamic, subject to contingency and negotiation. Interventions should be formulated to work with these assumptions, without presupposing a definite experience fixed in time and space. This would not only maximise the disabled siblings’ quality of life, but also ensure a more productive and fulfilling context for family relationships.

    March 06, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313476453   open full text
  • Religious and non-religious components in substance abuse treatment: A comparative analysis of faith-based and secular interventions.
    Davis, M. T.
    Journal of Social Work. March 06, 2013

    Summary: Recently, faith-based organizations have become increasingly welcomed as government partners in providing services for chronic social problems. In many countries including the United States policies permit social service and healthcare providers that utilize religious practices to be eligible for public funding. The government’s support of faith-based programs has provided increased capacity and gives clients more choice in providers. However, providers and policy makers have limited knowledge about the nature and treatment regimen of faith-based interventions. This qualitative study examined 28 faith-based and 27 secular substance abuse treatment programs in the United States using grounded theory methods to develop models of religious influences.

    Findings: The comparison yielded major differences. Secular programs allow religious practices but consider them voluntary components. Faith-based programs adopt one of the two strategies. Some selectively introduce religious practices but separate them from other treatment activities. Others regard religious practices as essential to recovery and require participation in religious observance.

    Application: This article describes the conceptual dimensions of religious practices in substance abuse treatment programs and will inform policy makers and practitioners about the role of religion in faith-based and secular programs.

    March 06, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313476589   open full text
  • Competing institutional logics in the development and implementation of integrated treatment for concurrent disorders in Ontario: A case study.
    Novotna, G.
    Journal of Social Work. March 06, 2013

    Summary: Rising health care costs have increased scrutiny on the performance of mental health and substance use services. The specifics of these human service organizations’ institutional environments make evaluating their organizational performance a challenging task. This study, based on 27 semi-structured interviews, document analyses and non-participant observation at two treatment programs, explored how two different institutional logics – managerial strategies striving for treatment effectiveness and client-centered care – guide the implementation of integrated treatment for concurrent disorders in Ontario, Canada.

    Findings: Treatment services for concurrent disorders have been pressured to adopt more business-like, performance-oriented rationales that are part of corporatist institutional paradigms including, for example, the spread of managerial strategies focused on developing strong performance culture. Such development, however, can conflict with the principles of client-centered, comprehensive care that social workers and other helping professions adhere to. In this regard, the clash of different rationalities brings inconsistencies to the process of developing and implementing integrated treatments for concurrent disorders.

    Applications: Despite the ideological commitment to comprehensive, individually-tailored and continuous treatment for concurrent disorders, there has been tension between such commitment and the emphasis on abbreviated, manual-based, routinized treatments associated with cost-containment and resource efficiency. This, however, can have serious consequences for treatment planning and treatment delivery, the client-clinician relationship and the displacement of client-centered care by program-centered approaches.

    March 06, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313476613   open full text
  • The essentialism of whiteness: Abandoning empirical engagement.
    de Montigny, G. A.
    Journal of Social Work. March 04, 2013

    Summary: This article examines social workers’ attention to privilege, white privilege, and oppression as ideological practice. It suggests alternative methods for accounting for troubles in social relations derived from ethnomethodology.

    Findings: Although presented as progressive, the methods used by anti-racist social workers to account for interaction as organized by racism and privilege rely on practices for working up race and privilege isomorphic with those used by racists and white supremacists.

    Applications: Alternative methods to account for troubles in relations are suggested which draw on an abiding attention to every-day socially organized practices.

    March 04, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017312475279   open full text
  • Readiness of boards of trustees in non-profit and voluntary sector organisations to meet the adult care 'personalisation agenda': A case study of a single English county.
    Donovan, B., Gilbert, T., Moran, B., Stanley, S., Barnett, S., Hocking, D.
    Journal of Social Work. March 04, 2013

    Summary: In a multi-method assessment of non-profit and voluntary sector governance in Cornwall, England, 65 chairpersons of organisations completed a Board Self-Assessment Questionnaire (BSAQ) to identify the level at which the board was functioning. They also commented on their awareness of the Westminster Government's personalisation agenda. In addition, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 17 board representatives from seven organisations to explore organisational support needs in respect of meeting the Adult Care ‘personalisation agenda’.

    Findings: Board members who reported good awareness of the personalisation agenda also self-assessed themselves as scoring higher than other respondents on the six BSAQ factors. Multiple regression analysis indicated that 47% of the variation in personalisation agenda preparedness was accounted for by organisations’ BSAQ scores. Qualitative data highlighted a number of important issues that may impact on the successful development of the personalisation agenda. These included the difficulty voluntary boards have in attracting trustees with appropriate experience, blurring of roles where trustees take on multiple roles some with operational commitments and communication difficulties with the local authority that results in board members stating that they are not sure of what is expected.

    Applications: While the study focussed on a single county the demographic of non-profit and voluntary sector organisations are not dissimilar from other areas which provide some basis for generalisability. Findings also resonate with previous studies of the sector. This suggests that local authorities and adult social care departments have considerable challenges to ensure the readiness of organisations in the sector and the robustness of governance delivered via trustees.

    March 04, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313476780   open full text
  • Depicting current case management models.
    Mas-Exposito, L., Amador-Campos, J. A., Gomez-Benito, J., Lalucat-Jo, L.
    Journal of Social Work. March 04, 2013

    Summary: Case management (CM) is one of the principal components of service delivery in mental health services. Over time, it has evolved into new models, and various meta-analytic studies have been carried out to establish its effects. Those studies have yielded non-homogeneous results, which might be related in part to the progress of case management models. Therefore, there is a need to understand the relationship between CM models and CM effects. This paper deals with this issue by reviewing and updating the literature regarding case management models and effects in order to help understand its current role and suggest how CM could be reorganized.

    Findings: Assertive community treatment and any other case management model seem to have fused and turned into two models that differ mainly with regard to the intensity of care provided to patients. The results of the meta-analyses on the efficacy/effectiveness of case management are not homogeneous across all studies, which seems to be related to the case management model used and the strictness of the methodology followed. When the model of case management used is congruent with clinical practice, the results favor case management over standard care and show that intensive and non-intensive case management may be provided depending on the previous use of hospital resources.

    Application: The argument suggests that case management models could be reconfigured by offering an intensive form of care based on patients’ needs.

    March 04, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313477296   open full text
  • Civic practice: A new professional paradigm for social work.
    Harington, P. R., Beddoe, L.
    Journal of Social Work. March 04, 2013

    • Summary: Economic rationalism has had an impact upon the position of many professions in Western society. Drawing on New Zealand material this article argues that neoliberal targeting of professions’ capacity to capture domains of service and their funding has fuelled deprofessionalization, but also created space for alternative domains of practice. A case for a civic model of social work practice is argued.

    • Findings: Debates about the nature of professions flourish in current literature. An exploration of the features of the social work profession suggests three types: heroic, altruistic and civic. The development of civic practice in social work is suggested, presupposing a reframing of the role and focus of the profession toward social inquiry applied to the rights and needs of citizens.

    • Application: The contribution of this article is to explore a move forward in the de-professionalization debates and to propose a civic social work grounded in advocacy and critical social inquiry.

    March 04, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313477316   open full text
  • The understandings of social pedagogy from northern European perspectives.
    Eriksson, L.
    Journal of Social Work. March 04, 2013

    Summary: This study examines understandings of social pedagogy. Interviews were conducted with nine social pedagogical researchers from Northern Europe. The interviewees were selected as representatives of their cultural and professional context and provided insight into their countries’ social pedagogical discourses. The interviewees were asked to talk about their understandings of social pedagogy from both theoretical and practical perspectives.

    Findings: The empirical data were divided into two discourses; the universalistic and the particularistic. In the interview statements it was evident that interviewees leaned towards one of the two discourses as a starting point for their understanding of social pedagogy. However, the way the two discourses were combined varied among the interviewees. In further analysis, three models were constructed, which can be regarded as ideal types. These models shows that social pedagogical way of thinking extend from an individualistic, adaptive, starting point through a democratic approach to a mobilising collective approach.

    Application: These models can be seen as an important contribution to understanding of social pedagogy that illustrate three different ways of understanding social pedagogy from northern European perspectives. The models elucidate the complexity embedded in the concept, but can also be used to facilitate analyses and interpretations of various social pedagogical activities. This findings has implications for how education in the field is constructed and implemented. Social pedagogy may not be definable in a simple way, but it can nevertheless be understood and described by the models constructed in this study.

    March 04, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313477325   open full text
  • Understanding personalisation: Implications for social work.
    Lymbery, M.
    Journal of Social Work. March 04, 2013

    Summary: This article analyses the centrality of the policy of personalisation within adult social care in the UK, with a particular focus on the implications for social work. It starts by considering the genesis of policy and continues by identifying different ways in which personalisation can be understood and hence analysed.

    Findings: The article suggests that the dominant theme in the rhetoric of both government and the disability movement associates personalisation with the concept of social citizenship – whereby previously disadvantaged people will be enabled to enjoy the full benefits of society, which had previously been denied to them. By way of contrast, the article suggests that personalisation can also be analysed in relation to the critical perspective of neo-liberalism, postulating the idea that the policy is primarily concerned with the importation of consumerist ideals into social care. The article then considers the administrative dimensions of personalisation, focusing on the potential of the policy to achieve particular financial benefits and arguing that this is taking precedence over other interpretations.

    Applications: The article concludes by considering the implications of the analysis for the practice of social work. It identifies the implications of the citizenship and neo-liberal perspectives, but concludes that imperatives of budgetary reduction are limiting the opportunities for social workers to practise within the context of personalisation. Consequently, while there is little prospect of substantial social work involvement in the context of statutory services, there may be opportunities for practitioners to engage with the issues in the context of smaller, often user-led organisations.

    March 04, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313477326   open full text
  • Powerful parent educators and powerless parents: The 'empowerment paradox' in parent education.
    Lam, C.-M., Kwong, W.-M.
    Journal of Social Work. March 04, 2013

    In an action research project to develop an empowering mode of parent education in Hong Kong that is premised on the empowerment discourse and a social constructionist epistemology, a pilot design was developed through a series of four ‘reflective seminars’ that engaged parents and professionals in a process of participatory inquiry, and three parent groups with Chinese parents. Afterward, two focused group interviews and six individual interviews were conducted to tap participants' narratives of their learning experience. Although parent empowerment has been widely advocated in parenting work, the authority of expert knowledge as perceived by participants and the power imbalance between parent educators and parents posed a new ‘empowerment paradox’ in our attempt to practice a new empowering mode of parent education for local parents. Addressing this ‘empowerment paradox’ requires a paradigm shift from the education model to reflexive practice. Parent educators need to be sensitive to social, cultural, discursive and institutional forces in order to negotiate a power relation that is characterised by collaboration and partnership, but is also responsive to parents’ pedagogical expectation in the Chinese cultural context.

    March 04, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313477779   open full text
  • Social work practice in the chronic care model: Chronic illness and disability care.
    Findley, P. A.
    Journal of Social Work. February 28, 2013

    Summary: Maintaining good quality of life and health in face of living and/or aging with a chronic illness and/or disability can be challenging. The health care and related education and training of these individuals to become proactive partners in their ongoing care is the cornerstone of most chronic care models.

    Findings: Social workers are not specifically mentioned in most chronic care models. However, as the health and social care processes can become complicated if the individual has barriers to partnering roles necessitated by chronic care models, a role for the social worker should be more clearly defined. Examination and application of the ecosystems perspective defines a clear role for social work to work collaboratively with other health professionals within a chronic care model.

    Application: This paper explores how social work’s ecosystems model can interface with Wagner’s Chronic Care Model to fill the void that some individuals may experience in seeking and maintaining care to provide a useful framework to facilitate interventions within that model.

    February 28, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313475381   open full text
  • Video self-modelling and its impact on the development of communication skills within social work education.
    Bolger, J.
    Journal of Social Work. February 28, 2013

    Summary: This article describes the evaluation of a programme which utilised video self-modelling to develop communication skills and associated skills of reflection and self-assessment within social work education at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. Video self-modelling techniques were adopted utilising role-play scenarios, simulating situations commonly encountered in social work practice, with social work students prior to their first period of Practice Learning. Eleven participants were observed via video footage and independently rated according to the communication skills they displayed. Group discussion in conjunction with pre- and post-test questionnaires encouraged participants to reflect on their practice.

    Findings: The greatest increase in the frequency of observations of desirable communication skills was most often achieved by participants who had scored the lowest in the rating of their skills during the pre-test videos. Overall there was no statistically significant difference between the pre- and post-tests scores with regard to the communication skills demonstrated. By contrast, all 11 participants expressed a belief that the majority of their skills had improved as a result of experiencing video self-modelling techniques which led to a greater level of reflective practice and growth in self-efficacy with regard to their professional competence.

    Applications: This approach can be applied to measure the impact development of communication skills on social work courses.

    February 28, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313476982   open full text
  • Listening to voice hearers.
    Sapey, B., Bullimore, P.
    Journal of Social Work. February 21, 2013

    Summary: This article considers what the Hearing Voices Network can offer to mental health social work. It combines an extensive literature review of voice hearing by Bob Sapey and the expertise by experience of Peter Bullimore who runs a peer support group for voice hearers.

    Findings: The re-framing of auditory hallucinations as voice hearing has significantly changed the way many voice hearers have been able to understand their experience. This new approach to working with voices was developed at the University of Maastricht, principally by social psychiatrist Marius Romme. By moving away from biological explanations of brain disease to psychological understandings of emotions, Romme and his colleagues have found ways of helping people cope with voices, rather than trying to get rid of them through medication. This has led to a network of voice hearing groups throughout the world. There is much of what happens in these groups and within the social psychiatric responses known as the Maastricht approach that can be practiced by social workers.

    Applications: The Maastricht approach to working with voices challenges the basis of pharmacological responses to psychosis and moves beyond anti-psychiatry by offering positive alternatives to the current biomedical treatment of schizophrenia. This approach can be undertaken by experts by experience and mental health professionals. We describe these approaches and argue that in adopting them, social workers can help voice hearers cope both with the content of their voices and the stigmatising responses to being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

    February 21, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017312475278   open full text
  • An exploratory study on the effectiveness and experience of a parent enhancement group adopting a narrative approach.
    To, S.-m., So, Y.-y., Chan, T.-s.
    Journal of Social Work. February 21, 2013

    Summary: Parent education has been gathering momentum in Hong Kong since its inception in the 1970s; however, much emphasis has been put on imparting childrearing knowledge and skills to parents rather than facilitating the reorganization of parents’ lived experiences and their identity development. Based on the results of an exploratory study conducted in Hong Kong, this article discusses the possible outcomes and experiences of a parent enhancement group adopting a narrative approach. The group comprised three, 5-hour sessions held weekly. The participants included 20 Hong Kong parents with at least one child in preschool. Through the adoption of a pretest–posttest design coupled with a 6-month follow-up survey and three post-intervention focus groups, the study attempted to examine the effects of the program and the subjective experiences of the participants.

    Findings: The quantitative results showed that the group might have positive impacts on the enhancement of parental satisfaction, parental efficacy, and parent–child relationships. The qualitative findings indicated that the group might help develop the parent identity through strengthening the parent–child relational connection and integration of parents’ life stories. The participants also had a deeper understanding of the impact of parents’ personal growth on their parenting practice and children’s development.

    Applications: The findings offer a knowledge base for evaluating this approach to parent enhancement programs. Of particular importance are its transformative effect, retention effect, ripple effect, and empowerment effect. The findings also provide reference materials for practitioners to rethink the direction of parent education.

    February 21, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313475554   open full text
  • Hiring priorities for BSW/MSW programs in the United States: Informing doctoral programs about current needs.
    Barsky, A., Green, D., Ayayo, M.
    Journal of Social Work. February 21, 2013

    Summary: This study was designed to identify the hiring needs of social work programs across the United States. The study used a national survey of social work programs, including closed questions for quantitative analysis and an open question for qualitative comments.

    Findings: Of the 226 MSW and BSW programs participating in this study, 95% stated that they expected to hire additional faculty in the next 5 years. The vast majority reported plans to hire at the assistant professor level. Although a PhD is a preferred degree for many programs, 62% suggested they would consider a DSW as equivalent to a PhD. Respondents suggested the most important factors influencing hiring decisions would be the candidate’s interpersonal skills, refereed publications, filling a diversity need, and supporting social work ethics. The most commonly sought areas of expertise sought include generalist practice, research/evaluation, policy, community practice, and diversity.

    Applications: This study has implications for doctoral programs and for social workers seeking post-graduate education in the United States. One of the most interesting findings was the expressed desire for candidates with practical and practice-oriented experience. Social work departments offering research-oriented PhD degrees may want to supplement their programs by providing courses and practical experiences that prepare graduates for teaching. Departments offering DSW degrees may design their programs to fill perceived gaps in qualifications among the current pool of candidates for tenure and non-tenure positions (e.g. teaching generalist social work, advanced clinical social work, and administration). Similarly, social workers wishing to pursue academic careers should consider which types of education and experience are in greatest need. Social workers seeking academic appointments should also note that the emphasis on teaching versus research varies across institutions.

    February 21, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313476772   open full text
  • Opinions about evidence: A study of social workers' attitudes towards evidence-based practice.
    Gray, M., Joy, E., Plath, D., Webb, S. A.
    Journal of Social Work. February 14, 2013

    Summary: This article reports on a large survey of Australian social workers regarding their attitudes to evidence-based practice and thoughts on the factors affecting its implementation in human service organisations.

    Findings: Findings from a national survey of Australian social workers found a degree of support for evidence-based practice with the majority of respondents reporting changes in practice due to the influence of research. A sample size of 364 social workers formed the basis of the final analysis. Both the support for evidence-based practice and the reported changes in practice due to new evidence was highest among social workers in management positions and those with between 10 and 30 years is needed post-qualifying practice experience. The survey also found, however, an unsophisticated understanding of evidence and evidence-based practice and ‘inadequate’ skills in the critical appraisal of research.

    Applications: Despite the level of support for evidence-based practice, responses to open-ended questions reflected reservations about the formalisation, relevance, useability, and applicability of the EBP agenda among social workers. Given that the issues relating to the transfer of research to practice appear far more complex than EBP suggests, this study sought to understand the complex dynamics of the research transfer process in social work and the human services.

    February 14, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313475555   open full text
  • Building partnerships in social work education: Towards achieving collaborative advantage for employers and universities.
    Wilson, G.
    Journal of Social Work. February 13, 2013

    Summary: Better partnership working between employers and academic institutions has recently been identified as one of the key developments needed to improve social work education and practice in the UK (Social Work Reform Board, 2010). However, the praxis of collaborative working in social work education remains under-researched and it is unclear what factors are significant in promoting effective partnership. This article contributes to this debate by reporting research that examined the experience of social work academics working with employers to deliver qualifying level social work education in Northern Ireland.

    Findings: Drawing on Huxam and Vangen’s (2005) theory of collaborative advantage, this analysis explores key factors in the dynamics of the collaborative process and identifies both congruence and discord in academic and employer perspectives. The findings highlight the collaborative advantage accruing from partnership working, which include the benefits of a centrally coordinated system for the management and delivery of practice learning. However, the results also indicate that engaging in partnership working is a complex process that can create conflict and tensions, and that it is important to ground collaborations in realistic expectations of what can be achieved.

    Application: This article identifies opportunities for achieving collaborative advantage and the challenges. It identifies lessons learned about the value of partnership working in social work education and ways to increase its efficacy.

    February 13, 2013   doi: 10.1177/1468017313475547   open full text
  • Hierarchical linear modeling: Applications to social work.
    Putnam-Hornstein, E.
    Journal of Social Work. October 17, 2012

    Summary: Using examples and nomenclature familiar to social workers, this article provides a brief, nontechnical introduction to hierarchically structured data and multilevel modeling.

    Findings: Data structured hierarchically consist of units clustered within higher-level groups, such as individuals nested within families and families nested within counties. Longitudinal observations can also be thought of as having a hierarchical structure, with repeated measures clustered within a given individual. Because lower-level units within a group tend to be systematically more similar to one another than to units from another group, there is often a need to make statistical adjustments for within-group dependence. Hierarchical or multilevel modeling provides a method for researchers to account for possible within-group correlations while also explicitly modeling group-level attributes and membership, acknowledging the potential importance of contextual effects on lower-level outcomes.

    Applications: Although hierarchical or multilevel modeling has been discussed (and used) extensively by researchers in other disciplines and fields, it has been more recently adopted as a modeling tool by social work researchers. Because hierarchical modeling is now a commonly employed technique, it is important that those in the field have a basic understanding of these models so that they remain informed consumers of research. This article offers a conceptual overview of hierarchical linear models written for social work practitioners, policy-makers, and other consumers of social welfare research.

    October 17, 2012   doi: 10.1177/1468017312459985   open full text
  • Effectiveness of micro- and macro-level intervention at times of economic crisis.
    Makaros, A., Itzhaky, H.
    Journal of Social Work. March 20, 2012

    Summary: The aim of the study was to examine perceptions of micro- and macro-level role effectiveness and the factors that contribute to those perceptions among social workers in rural communities that are undergoing an economic crisis. We also examined the correlations between these perceptions and various components of social workers’ role behavior, as well as social workers’ sense of empowerment and personal characteristics. This was a quantitative study, which was conducted among a sample of 149 social workers in Israel.

    Findings: The contribution of components of role behavior to enhancing social workers’ levels of perceived role effectiveness was highest, whereas sense of empowerment and personal variables contributed less. Moreover, information gathering contributed to perceptions of effectiveness at both the micro- and macro-levels, whereas guidance and community roles contributed to perceived effectiveness only at the macro-level.

    Applications: The contribution of the study lies in the identification of social workers’ roles at times of economic crisis. Moreover, the findings highlight the importance of investing in empowerment of social workers. We believe the results can be generalized to other communities in crisis.

    March 20, 2012   doi: 10.1177/1468017311435866   open full text
  • An analysis of Confucianism's yin-yang harmony with nature and the traditional oppression of women: Implications for social work practice.
    Yun, S. H.
    Journal of Social Work. March 15, 2012

    Summary: This article introduces basic tenents of Confucianism and its evolution, and explores its unique contribution to socio-cultural practices on gender-based oppression in social work practice.

    Findings: The yin-yang (陰-陽) relation is originally a cosmic idea that is cyclical and harmonizing, but not oppositional and contradictory. The yin-yang binary is not intended to indicate any human relations (gender) or political ethics but the harmony of human nature. Despite the complementary nature of the yin-yang union, a confucianized Chinese society consigned yang to male and yin to female, signifying hierarchal gender relations. Women were considered inferior to men in the patriarchal family system. Misinterpretation of Confucianism promoted hierarchal relationships between men and women and, as a result, dramatically affected the gender-based attitudes and behavior.

    Applications: Confucianism, one of the most crucial philosophies of Asian cultural norms, has long been studied from the perspectives of intellectual history and philosophical truth seeking; however, only a few scholarly texts are available in the area of Confucianism and its influence on gender inequality. In particular, this article attempts to help scholars and helping-professionals understand how the harmonious yin-yang concept evolved into the contradictory binary, which further perpetrated gender hierarchy and oppression toward women. Limitations of current Confucianism research and implications for social work practice are presented.

    March 15, 2012   doi: 10.1177/1468017312436445   open full text
  • A comparison of family-of-origin perception of undergraduates: Social work students and students in other fields.
    Doron, H., Bar-On, A., Tal, D., Adi, A., Hadas, K., Orli, Y., Einav, G., Noah, P., Galit, B.-D.
    Journal of Social Work. February 27, 2012

    Summary: In order to better understand the principal influences that cause social work professionals to choose their profession, an empirical research using the circumplex model for family evaluation was conducted, measuring perceived aspects of cohesion and change in the families-of-origin of social work students versus students from other disciplines. A total of 306 undergraduate students from social work, education, biotechnology, computer science, and economics participated. Students filled in questionnaires measuring their perception of families-of-origin, and their influential figure in choosing their profession.

    • Findings: Social work students were found to perceive significantly more extreme views of their families-of-origin, compared to students from other disciplines, while the latter scored higher in the category of ‘balanced family’. Finally, students of therapeutic disciplines, both males and females, rated a stronger influence of their mothers on their choice of profession, compared to students from non-therapeutic professions.

    Applications: The findings indicate that students who train for therapeutic professions have presumably experienced more hardships in their families-of-origin compared to students who choose non-therapeutic studies. On the one hand, this may equip them with higher helping skills; on the other hand, being raised in a troubled family may render the future therapist more vulnerable to potential pitfalls in the helping relationship or impair the therapeutic process. Social work training institutions should therefore pay attention to their students’ perception of families-of-origin and allow for a conscious and structured processing of past experiences during the years of training.

    February 27, 2012   doi: 10.1177/1468017311435046   open full text
  • Social care and older prisoners.
    Williams, J.
    Journal of Social Work. February 21, 2012

    Summary: This article reviews the evidence available on the treatment of older prisoners within England and Wales who are the fastest growing group within prisons. It concentrates on the lack of available social care facilities for older prisoners. Many older prisoners have special needs that are not met within prison, mainly because of the ‘sameness’ principle that is applied. Social care is as important to older prisoners as their health care. Although some social care may be available to older prisoners, it is not provided within the legal framework that applies to older people outside of prison. This article argues that the general legal obligation to provide social care (imperfect though it may be), should also be applied within the prison setting.

    Findings: Based on the evidence available, older prisoners are often unable to access social care services within prison. This is a breach of international obligations entered into by the United Kingdom. It may also breach the European Convention of Human Rights. The article argues that existing legislation does not prevent older prisoners from accessing social care services. The sameness principle discriminates against older prisoners. Mental health, physical disability, and incontinence are all areas where older prisoners lack access to services available to older people outside of prison.

    Applications: Considerable progress has been made in raising the profile of older prisoners. However, more needs to be done to embed the social care needs older prisoners may have into the prison system. The ordinary residence rule, the National Service Framework and the Fair Access to Care guidance must be adapted to meet the needs of serving prisoners as well as those preparing for release. Attitudes need to change. There needs to be a willingness to meet the international and domestic legal obligations towards older prisoners.

    February 21, 2012   doi: 10.1177/1468017311434886   open full text
  • Managing intimate partner violence at the social services department of a Greek university hospital.
    Papadakaki, M., Kastrinaki, E., Drakaki, R., Chliaoutakis, J.
    Journal of Social Work. February 21, 2012

    • Summary: Although abused patients are thought to access the health system at a range of potential entry points, social services are usually the only referral option within the various hospital sectors. In Greece, little is known about the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) and the quality of care provided to cases of abuse at the social services. The current study explored the department’s response to IPV cases in a Greek university hospital. Two different research methods were employed: qualitative and document research. Qualitative data were collected through personal interviews with the 10 social workers employed at the department. Document research involved the review of all registries and social history forms recorded between January 2005 and April 2009 at the department. Two predefined screening criteria were employed to identify IPV cases. Seven socio-demographic variables were abstracted from all IPV cases that met the inclusion criteria.

    • Findings: Four main themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: 1) knowledge gap and openness to education, 2) poor assessment and recording practices, 3) concerns about intervention in confirmed cases, and 4) mistrust in referral resources. The document research revealed a total of 42 records (3.8%) having an IPV screening record present, out of the 1117 initially reviewed. The majority of the IPV patients were women (n = 33, 78.6%), encountered at the age group of 28–37 years (n = 16, 38.1%) and presented mixed types of abuse (n = 32, 76.2%).

    • Applications: Developing training opportunities and introducing organizational changes could help social workers to better manage IPV cases in the hospital setting.

    February 21, 2012   doi: 10.1177/1468017311435445   open full text
  • Getting a sense of the client: Working methods in the personal social services in Sweden.
    Perlinski, M., Blom, B., Moren, S.
    Journal of Social Work. February 13, 2012

    • Summary: This article presents a study of working methods used by social workers within the personal social services (PSS), in their work with clients. The study is part of a larger research project with the aim of describing and analysing how specialized respectively integrated forms of organizations in the PSS condition social workers’ interventions and client effects (outcomes). The study was carried out in three Swedish municipalities with different organizational models. Two of those represent ‘extremes’ as they have pure specialized (divided in different types of units) respectively integrated (generic) organizations. The third municipality has chosen a middle way with an organization that combines aspects of the two other models. All social workers within the PSS in those three municipalities were included in the study.

    Findings: Our findings among other things show 1) that the use of unspecific methods dominates, 2) that several methods that are reported as specific are definitely not specific, 3) that specific methods often are used in free and unspecific ways, 4) that there seems to be a compensating movement (regarding use of methods) with the aim of evening out limitations in the formal PSS organizations, 5) that there are two relatively large groups of method users: ‘improvisers’ and ‘eclecticists’.

    Applications: One can neither understand the use of working methods in social work with clients by studying the methods as such nor by studying the evidence base of different methods. Social workers consider their relationships to clients and the clients’ trust as much more important (in order to achieve results) than any particular method. The use of methods is mirroring the social workers’ readiness before, and planned adaptation to, different types of situations.

    February 13, 2012   doi: 10.1177/1468017311435047   open full text
  • Parent needs and family support service outcomes in a Canadian sample.
    McConnell, D., Breitkreuz, R., Savage, A.
    Journal of Social Work. February 08, 2012

    Summary: Parent support needs and family support service (FSS) outcomes were investigated. A total of 923 parent participants were recruited through 20 community-based FSS providers in Alberta, Canada. Participants completed a survey, incorporating well validated child, parent and family outcome measures, a minimum of 8–12 weeks after utilizing their FSS.

    Findings: Overall, parent need satisfaction was high. However, low socio-economic status, English as a second language, parental disability or chronic health condition, and child disability or chronic health condition were associated with lower levels of parent need satisfaction. Higher levels of need satisfaction were linked to lower levels of parenting stress and more positive parent–child interactions. These, in turn, were linked to more positive family functioning and fewer child difficulties.

    Applications: Mediation analysis and qualitative findings suggest that family support services are making a positive difference by creating points of ‘connection’, including opportunities for informal learning and peer-support. We argue that the informal, ‘social networking’ role of family support services should be valued alongside evidence-based parenting training programs.

    February 08, 2012   doi: 10.1177/1468017311434819   open full text