An evaluation of the implementation of systemic ideas into child safeguarding social work practice with domestic violence and abuse using the principles of realistic evaluation

Hare, Risthardh (2019) An evaluation of the implementation of systemic ideas into child safeguarding social work practice with domestic violence and abuse using the principles of realistic evaluation. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

In 2015 the application of ideas from systemic family therapy was being introduced into the field of children and families social work practice. Numerous Local Authorities were training their frontline social workers in these ideas and concepts while government initiatives to attract new social workers into the field emphasized systemic principles. At the same time, the main reason for referrals into statutory social work was domestic violence and abuse.
This study took a theory based evaluation approach, based on the principles of realistic evaluation (Pawson & Tiley 1997), to understand the impact of introducing systemic ideas on social work practice with domestic violence and abuse.
Realistic evaluation focusses on the theory of change concerned with the relationship between context and mechanisms to generate outcomes. The evaluation sought to know whether any changes in practice were congruent with child protection legislation and guidance at that time. This qualitative study took place in a UK Local Authority in which Social Workers worked under child protection legislation to safeguard children affected by domestic violence and abuse (DVA). The review of the literature found that sparse empirical evidence existed to support the decision to apply systemic ideas to DVA, and in some cases, the literature highlighted potential tensions between the systemic approach and the statutory social work context.
The evaluation involved two stages of qualitative interviews. The first stage sought to understand what outcomes the experts in systemic approaches had assumed would be created by implementing these ideas. The second stage involved child protection social workers who had been trained in systemic ideas and sought to qualify and challenge the expert’s assumptions while seeking to understand the impact of context.
The primary findings of this research were that little evidence existed to support the implementation of systemic ideas specifically with child protection DVA practice. The impact on practice was that social workers were more focused on engagement with fathers, were willing to undertake direct work with families and changed their
views on the causality of DVA. However, the research also identified some unintended outcomes including the risk of creating tension and frustration and division in the workforce. This study has concluded that although there is evidence of some positive practice change as a result of the use of systemic ideas, this was not always congruent with a child protection approach. It illuminates the need for further research on the application of systemic ideas on domestic violence and abuse.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0040 Social service. Social work. Charity organization and practice Including social case work, private and public relief, institutional care, rural social work, work relief
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0697 Protection, assistance and relief > HV0700 Special classes > HV0713 Children > HV0749 Europe > HV0751 Great Britain
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2019 10:15
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2019 10:15
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/84391

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