“Child protection work is a difficult area for practitioners with no silver bullet,” says Margaret McKenzie. And this is somewhat the point. While previous research has often focused on a favoured method, greater potential exists in how to judiciously and meaningfully combine the best of a range of strategies.
Now, working from practice experiences, five Social Work educators from Aotearoa/New Zealand, Norway and Western Australia, including Margaret McKenzie from the School of Social Services and Shayne Walker from University of Otago, have developed a blended model of practice for child welfare work. The model incorporates elements of collaboration, participation, family members acting as their own theorists, strengths-based practice, and the importance of physical environment and cultural identities. This is one of the first times these theories have been combined to create a coherent framework linking theory and practice from a basis of co-construction.
“All five of us have backgrounds working in child and family work social agencies before we moved into tertiary education. At various points in our career we have each had concerns about how the work is done and how it is taught. Although theories about child abuse and neglect and its causations go through cycles of change, we discovered that the five of us shared similar theoretical underpinnings, so we drew together a group of ideas and principles that can be used to teach theory and practice based on our combined experience of best possible outcomes for children and families,” says Margaret.
This blended model of practice is the basis for two articles which the team of authors published in 2014. One of these two articles, entitled “What Can We Do to Bring the Sparkle Back into this Child’s Eyes?” was one of top three most downloaded articles that were published in 2014 in the Routledge Health and Social Care journals series.