Children at the Centre
: Strengthening Child Protection Practice

  • Margaret Bruce

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Social Work


    When families are subject to child protection procedures it can be a difficult and complex time for children, their parents, carers and practitioners. Despite legislative and policy requirements for the child’s views to be taken into account in decisions made about them, research and literature has shown that there is much to be improved and developed in this area of practice.

    This small-scale qualitative study examines the views of professionals about children’s participation in child protection case conferences and how these impact on a child’s right to give their view. This study further explores the impact a child’s participation can have in terms of outcomes for the child as an individual, decisions made at conference, and the development of future practice.

    Using a qualitative approach, interviews were carried out with practitioners with key roles in capturing and presenting children’s views and children who had been supported to contribute to their case conference. Documentary analysis was undertaken of reports designed to present the child’s views in writing.

    Key findings from this study contribute new knowledge to this area of practice by challenging existing narratives and established practice relating to children’s involvement in meetings and highlighting a potential dichotomy between children and adults. Additionally, this study finds that where children make a contribution to their meeting this can have a positive impact on both the conduct of the meeting and the quality of decisions.

    Recommendations are made for practitioners to examine what motivates their practice and for supervisors to create reflective space for this to happen. There are messages for case conference chairs about the development of meetings to allow space for the child to have a real presence. Further recommendations are made for the development of Scottish policy at a national level and for future research.
    Date of Award2021
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBeth Hannah (Supervisor) & Divya Jindal-Snape (Supervisor)

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