• Extended care: global dialogue on policy, practice and research

      van Breda, Adrian D.; Munro, Emily; Gilligan, Robbie; Anghel, Roxana; Harder, Annemiek; Incarnato, Mariana; Mann-Feder, Varda; Refaeli, Tehila; Stohler, Renate; Storø, jan; et al. (Elsevier Ltd, 2020-10-13)
      Young people who are taken up into the care system (including foster, formal kinship and residential or group care) traditionally have to leave care at age 18, the generally accepted age of adulthood. Research globally has shown that most youth are not ready to transition to independent living at 18 and require additional support into early adulthood. One specific type of support that has gained increasing interest is extended care arrangements, including permitting young people to remain in their care placements beyond the age of 18. While widely discussed, there is a limited body of literature on the conceptualisation, implementation and evaluation of extended care, and almost no cross-national dialogue on extended care. This article aims to gather together a range of experiences on extended care and to explore the extent to which there is a cross-national consensus on the conceptualisation and operationalisation of extended care. Ten countries participated in the study, reviewing their country's extended care policy, practice and research using a common matrix. Findings reveal adoption of aspects of extended care in all countries, wide variations in how extended care is conceptualised, legislated, funded and implemented, and very little research on the effectiveness of extended care. The authors recommend resolving cross-national variations in the conceptualisation of extended care and further research on the role and contribution of extended care placements to improved outcomes for youth in diverse social, political and economic contexts.
    • How do we assess the quality of group supervision? : developing a coding framework

      Bostock, Lisa; Patrizo, Louis; Godfrey, Tessa; Munro, Emily; Forrester, Donald; University of Bedfordshire; Frontline; Cardiff University (Elsevier, 2019-03-14)
      The importance of supervision for social work practice is one of the most widely accepted tenets of the profession. Yet, surprisingly little is known about what happens in supervision, making it difficult to unravel what it is about supervision that makes a difference to social work practice. This paper describes the development of a framework for assessing the quality of group supervision. It focuses on one sub-category of group supervision – systemic group supervision – and draws a wider evaluation of systemic social work practice in the UK. It is based on 29 observations of “live” of supervision to illustrate differences in quality of supervisory practice. The process of developing the coding framework was cyclical, and ultimately resulted in a three-point ordinal grouping for assessing systemic supervisory practice. Analysis of observational data assessed group systemic supervision as follows: 8 as non-systemic (28%); 12 (41%) as demonstrating some incorporation of systemic ideas into interactions, described as “green shoots” (or showing encouraging signs of development but not yet reached its full potential); and 9 (31%) supervision sessions demonstrating a full incorporation of systemic concepts and practice. What marked “systemic” sessions from “green shoots” supervision was the move from hypothesis generation about family relations and risk to children to purposeful, actionable conversations with families: the move from reflection to action. This paper supports a small but growing body of evidence about the fundamental characteristics of successful or effective supervision within children and families social work.
    • Levels of stress and anxiety in child and family social work: workers' perceptions of organizational structure, professional support and workplace opportunities in Children's Services in the UK

      Antonopoulou, Vivi; Killian, Mike; Forrester, Donald; University of Bedfordshire; University of Texas at Arlington; University of Cardiff (Elsevier, 2017-02-24)
      Child and family social workers are consistently found to have high levels of stress, and this has often been linked to burnout and retention problems in the profession. Local authorities in the UK have recently been under pressure to reform services, and one focus has been exploring how different organizational structures might reduce stress and increase well-being of workers. This paper presents data on 193 social workers from five local authorities in England. We examine the effects of different ways of organizing Children's Services on workers' wellbeing, with particular focus on the underlying relationship between organizational elements, workplace opportunities,and practitioners' work satisfaction. The primary outcome measure is the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12, Goldberg, 1978), a widely validated measure of stress. This data is presented alongside information exploring aspects of organizational structure and functioning. Results indicated significantly different levels of reported stress and general well-being in practitioners working in different local authorities. Implications for how local authorities might support staff to work productively in the stressful and challenging environment of child and family social work are discussed.
    • Putting risk into perspective: lessons for children and youth services from a participatory advocacy project with survivors of sexual violence in Albania, Moldova and Serbia

      Bovarnick, Silvie; Cody, Claire; ; University of Bedfordshire (Elsevier, 2021-03-26)
      While engaging survivors of sexual violence in participatory advocacy may not be new to adult services, it is less common among children and youth services that commonly prioritise “protection” over “participation”. This paper draws on monitoring and evaluation data collected from a youth advocacy project with fifteen survivors of sexual violence in Albania, Moldova and Serbia. Secondary analysis, adopting a trauma-informed lens, was undertaken on data generated through shared learning events with project partners, focus groups with project staff and workshops with the young women involved. We argue that the identified gains for participants resonate with key elements of trauma-informed responses to sexual violence, namely establishing safety and trust, empowerment, and critical reflection. Although based on work with young women, our findings are relevant to children and youth services interested in engaging survivors in advocacy. Despite the significant ethical and practical challenges, we argue that it is important to put risk into perspective and not lose sight of the potential protective benefits of participatory work for participants.
    • A randomized controlled trial of training in Motivational Interviewing for child protection.

      Forrester, Donald; Westlake, David; Killian, Mike; Antonopoulou, Vivi; McCann, Michelle; Thomas, Roma; Waits, Charlotte; Whittaker, Charlotte E.; Hutchison, Dougal; Thurnham, Angela; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-02-12)
      There has been interest in developing more evidence-based approaches to child and family social work in the UK in recent years. This study examines the impact of a skills development package of training and supervision in Motivational Interviewing (MI) on the skills of social workers and the engagement of parents through a randomized controlled trial. All workers in one local authority were randomly assigned to receive the package (n = 28) or control (n = 33). Families were then randomized to trained (n = 67) or untrained (n = 98) workers. Family meetings with the worker shortly after allocation were evaluated for MI skill. Research interviews gathered data including the WAI. Follow-up interviews 20 weeks later repeated the WAI, and other outcome measures including Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) and rating of family life. Between group analysis found statistically significant difference in MI skills, though these were not substantial (2.49 in control, 2.91 MI trained, p = .049). There was no statistically significant difference between groups in any other outcome measures. The package of training and supervision did not create sufficient increase in MI skills to influence engagement or outcomes. Implications for understanding the relationship between skills, engagement and organizational change are discussed.
    • The surprisingly weak evidence base for supervision : findings from a systematic review of research in child welfare practice (2000-2012)

      Carpenter, John; Webb, Caroline M.; Bostock, Lisa; University of Bristol; Social Care Institute for Excellence (Elsevier, 2013-09-05)
      Objective: The objective of this study is to ascertain what is known about the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of supervision in child welfare in relation to outcomes for consumers/service users, staff and organizations. Method: This is a systematic review of the English language literature (2000–2012). Scoping study is followed by database searches of indexes and abstracts including Campbell Collaboration, CINAHL, the Cochrane Library, Medline, PsycInfo and Social Work Abstracts, journal hosts (EBSCO and IngentaConnect) plus specialist journals. Inclusion criteria: studies that reported on the associations between the provision of supervision and outcomes for service users/consumers, workers and organizations as well as intervention studies. Potentially relevant studies were independently screened by two reviewers (Stage 1) and if meeting the eligibility criteria proceed to full text review and data extraction (Stage 2). Studies were subject to critical appraisal by three reviewers using the Weight of Evidence approach (Stage 3). An analysis of included study characteristics is followed by a narrative synthesis of findings structured to answer the research objective. Results: 690 unique studieswere identified at Stage 1, 35 proceeded to Stage 2 and, following quality appraisal, 21 were included in the review. Almost all of the studieswere cross-sectional, providing evidence of associations between the provision of supervision and a variety of outcomes for workers, including job satisfaction, self-efficacy and stress and for organizations, including workload management, case analysis and retention. There was only one, poorly reported, intervention study and no studies of outcomes for consumers. No economic evaluations were found. Conclusions: The evidence base for the effectiveness of supervision in child welfare is surprisingly weak. An agenda for research based on a framework for the development and evaluation of complex interventions is proposed.
    • ‘We have personal experience to share, it makes it real’: young people's views on their role in sexual violence prevention efforts

      Cody, Claire (Elsevier Ltd, 2017-06-07)
      Young people, particularly those affected by sexual violence, are rarely asked about their views on sexual violence prevention initiatives. Forty seven children and young people (aged between 11 and 25) from Albania, Bulgaria and England took part in a series of consultation workshops exploring sexual violence. This article outlines their views and recommendations in relation to the role of young people in prevention work. Young people are clear that they have a role to play when it comes to reaching and informing their peers. They are also aware of the risks of engagement and cognisant of the need for support and training. The consultation findings contribute to the limited evidence base surrounding young people's views on sexual violence prevention. The article illustrates the valuable insights and contributions that children and young people, particularly those affected by the issues, can make to the field. This calls for a shift in how we view and engage children and young people in shaping future sexual violence prevention strategies and projects.
    • What is the impact of supervision on direct practice with families?

      Bostock, Lisa; Patrizo, Louis; Godfrey, Tessa; Forrester, Donald; University of Bedfordshire; Frontline; University of Cardiff (Elsevier, 2019-07-24)
      Supervision has been described as the “pivot” upon which the integrity and excellence of social work practice can be maintained.However, there is little research that examines its impact on how social workers work directly with children and their families. Where effectiveness studies exist, they tend to explore the impact of supervision on organisational and staff-related outcomes such as retention rates or worker well-being. The current study focuses on one specific sub-category of the wider supervision and practice literature: systemic group supervision or “systemic supervision” and is based on a wider evaluation of systemic social work practice in the UK. The paper pairs observations of systemic supervision (n=14) and observations of direct practice (n=18) in peoples’ homes. It presents correlational data on the relationship between supervision quality and direct practice quality to assess whether there is an association between the two practice forums. The paper demonstrates that there is a statistically significant relationship between supervision quality and overall quality of direct practice. Supervision was also associated with relationship-building skills and use of “good authority” skills; that is, practice that was more purposeful, child-focused and risks to children better articulated. Interestingly, where a clinician qualified in systemic family therapy was present in supervision, this was associated with bothimproved supervisory and direct practice quality. This suggests that there may be an important association between the discussions held in systemic supervision, particularly where a clinician is present and the quality of conversations that practitioners have with children and families. These findings contribute to a growing body of knowledge about the relationship between effective supervision and direct practice within children and families social work.