The Politics of Children's Services Reform: Re-examining Two Decades of Policy Change

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Comparative research has identified two broad types of child welfare system. In child protection systems the principal remit of welfare agencies is to identify and respond to actual or potential incidences of child abuse or maltreatment. In contrast family service systems are characterised by a stronger spirit of partnership between the state and families and an emphasis on working to prevent the need for coercive state intervention. This book examines the development of children’s services reform in England over recent decades to explain a shift from family service polices towards a narrower child protection approach. Successive waves of reform in England have invariably been framed as responses to high-profile child abuse inquires and media generated scandal including the cases of Victoria Climbié and Baby P. However, this book challenges the idea that it is the apparent failings of local agencies, including child and family social workers, that drive successive waves of reform. Instead, it turns the spotlight on the process of policy-making at the national level, and highlights the role played by party political leaders and senior government ministers in driving reform. The book is informed by 45 interviews with key decision-makers including ministers, senior civil servants, children’s charity leaders, local authority directors and social work researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherPolicy Press, Bristol
Number of pages232
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2020


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