Going home: Managing ‘risk’ through relationship in returning children from foster care to their families of origin
This article reports on how workers and clients in child protection social work services manage the return home process. Social workers in these cases attempt to build relationships with clients that have therapeutic, educational and social control functions. Within these relationships, workers must manage competing tensions between ‘risk’ and ‘safety’ while they attempt to build collaborative relationships with parents. This article draws on a qualitative study that interviewed workers and clients within a child protection agency in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It found that workers constructed clients' problems in ways that avoided attributing moral failure or judgment, resisted ‘knee-jerk’ reactions, and had high frequency contact with both parents and children. They viewed ‘good enough’ parenting within the context of the case, believed in parents’ ability to change, and used solution focused approaches combined with contextual support to build parenting competence and confidence. These findings are discussed with regard to concepts of risk and in light of the aims of social work.
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Rights Statement: © The Author(s) 2011
Keywords: child protection; reunification; risk; safety; social constructionism; solution-focussed
Research Type: Journal Article
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