Children In Need. Family Support Under The Children Act 1989

By Matthew Colton, Charlotte Drury and Margaret Williams.



ISBN 1 85628 932 X

This book is a report of empirical research findings about the
extent to which the eight Welsh local authorities have implemented
Part III of the Children Act 1989 and have provided services which
effectively support children in need and their families. The study
also compared the performance of the Welsh authorities with that of
eight similar English local authorities.

The study considers several different aspects of how children in
need have been identified and supported. There are sections looking
at partnership with parents and children, cultural issues and
interagency co-operation which are of particular interest because
they include information gathered from extensive interviews with
social workers and service users.

The key criteria for assessing the quality of partnership with
parents and children are described as their satisfaction with the
services being received, their awareness of the range of services
available to them and the degree to which they feel they
participate in all decisions relating to them.

The authors are concerned to highlight their view that it is
difficult to develop a more proactive system of family support in
the spirit of the Children Act given the current socio-economic
context in the United Kingdom; proactive family support ‘can only
happen in a society which is moving towards the reduction of
inequality and social deprivation’ and this is not currently the
case here.

They also suggest that the current structural framework for
social services departments does not facilitate effective support
work with families; the view of the authors is that ‘the
localisation of services into small geographical units is essential
for effective family support’.

Although there are some practical suggestions about how to move
from protection to support and prevention, a clear step-by-step
strategic plan for how to manage and achieve this change is

Amy Weir is director of family and community care,
Family Welfare Association.

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