Parton, Nigel (2009) Challenges to practice and knowledge in child welfare social work: From the ‘social’ to the ‘informational’? Children and Youth Services Review, 31 (7). pp. 715-721. ISSN 0190-7409

Recent years have witnessed the emergence of an important debate about whether and how far social work practice with children and families is being dominated by a relatively narrow and often legalistic focus on child protection, at the cost of the broader concern with ensuring the welfare of children. Family support is often the operative word used to address the child welfare focus but scholars in the field still wonder whether our new technologically based systems can accommodate broader concerns. Perhaps the centrality of procedures has overshadowed what social work practitioners used to value as good judgment, including a laborious weighing of facts and practice wisdom. This paper discusses the possible impact of new information and communication technology systems. It reflects on the shift from a narrative to a database way of thinking and operating and discusses how the ‘social’ may be being overshadowed by the ‘informational.’ In doing so it attempts to identify a number of key challenges for both practice and knowledge which need to be considered in the future.

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