Teaching child care law: Key principles, new priorities

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This paper re‐examines the principles, priorities and practices of teaching child care law on UK social work qualifying programmes. It identifies four key lessons from the past for teaching and learning child care law, and proposes additional priorities for the future. It draws on research into the way that social workers and local authority solicitors work together in child care cases, suggesting how the lessons from this study of inter‐professional working can be applied in social work education and practice. The project involved over 50 interviews with social workers and lawyers in six local authorities in England. The interviewees' comments highlight the stresses and satisfactions of court work; the tensions and potential of their inter‐professional relationship; perceived weaknesses of social workers' written work; and the challenges of contemporary child care practice. In the light of these findings, the new priorities focus on preparing students for working in the courts and with lawyers, for developing analytical skills and for survival in hard pressed social services departments. They also call for realism about what can be achieved on qualifying courses, and for an active role for social work educators in promoting wider understanding of the challenges of social work with children and families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-230
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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