Reid, James (2012) Lost identities: denying children their family identity. In: Vulnerable Children and the Law: International Evidence for Improving Child Welfare, Child Protection and Children's Rights. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London. ISBN 9781849058681

There is a rich literature on the benefits to children of both mother and father involvement but the experience for many children in contested contact and residence proceedings in the UK is denied familial and cultural experiences and lost identity. The public discourse on separated families has included the stereotypes of ‘deadbeat dads’ and ‘obstructive mums’ and such stereotypes continue to be common in social work with families (Trinder 2007). This is in part encouraged by conflicting messages in policy and uncritical approaches to practitioner utility - defined as subjectivities influenced by agency, social structures and culture – perpetuated particularly in assessment by mandated tools such as the Framework for Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (Department of Health 2000). This chapter considers the impact of practitioner utility in characterising many childhoods through minimised or ignored opportunities for a broader and inclusive familial, community and cultural experience and makes recommendations for a Framework for Intervention that enables social work practitioners to be open to a wider range of ideas, including considering at least the need for contact between the children, their non-resident parent and the wider family network, and to be more secure in explaining and defending their decision making.

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