Care proceedings under the 1989 Children Act: Rhetoric and reality

Bridget McKeigue, Chris Beckett

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Among the most important changes that it was hoped would flow from the 1989 Children Act were, first, a reduction in delays in care proceedings, since this was recognized to be harmful to children and, second, a shift away from the use of compulsion towards working in partnership. In this article, Bridget McKeigue and Chris Beckett demonstrate that, in both respects, the Act has not only failed to deliver, but has been followed by rapid change in the opposite direction to the one hoped for. However, many commentators, both within and outside of government, continue to speak of the Act as if it had been a success. The article considers a series of characteristic rhetorical manoeuvres, which seem to allow the Act’s failings to be passed over in much of this discourse. They conclude that progress is more likely to be made if the Act’s failure to deliver is frankly confronted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-849
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2004

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