Practising the art of evaluating social work
THE ART AND SCIENCE OF CHILD CARE: RESEARCH, POLICY AND PRACTICE
IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
Edited by Matthew Colton, Walter Hellinckx,
Pol Ghesquiere and Margaret Williams
ISBN 1 85742 285 6
Historically social work professionals have shied away from
evaluating their activities, arguing the ‘holistic’ and
interpersonal approach does not lend itself to objective standards.
This book brings together chapters on outcomes in residential and
foster care with the intention of changing policy and practice.
It examines theoretical models of practice and research studies
from several European countries. Sonia Jackson’s account of the
development of agreed outcomes for looked-after children is
essential reading. This work is a watershed in public child care as
it keeps practitioners, carers and departments alert to seven
standard dimensions of a child’s health, development and
well-being. Roger Bullock and Michael Little relate their findings
on factors which suggest the success or otherwise of children in
care returning home.
It also deals with educational attainments in foster children, a
framework for evaluating residential care, and working with
multi-problem families in Belgium. It examines social work’s
reluctance to evaluate itself and argues for tighter links between
research and practice. This commitment to change practice according
to research findings is shared by all the authors and is one of the
book’s distinct assets.
It draws attention to models, outcomes and statistics. This is a
virtue in a post-modern era where the social work profession has
emphasised values when communicating to itself and to others, but
has seemed indifferent to the real efficacy of its practice.
is senior lecturer in social work, Staffordshire University