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Lancaster researcher leads on NSPCC guide for social workers

01/19/2011 09:36:10

A Lancaster University researcher has played a lead role in creating a guide for social workers, outlining the most common mistakes made when dealing with child protection cases.

Launched by children’s charity the NSPCC this week Ten Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them is primarily aimed at social work professionals and students. It should also prove useful to anyone contributing to child protection referrals and plans, such as those working in education, health and the police. The booklet provides frontline child protection workers with practical advice on the steps from making an initial assessment, to recording decisions, actions, and plans.

Lead author of Ten Pitfalls Dr Karen Broadhurst is a Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Science at Lancaster where she carries out research that informs policy, legislation and practice in child welfare and child protection.

Dr Broadhurst said: “A number of recent serious case reviews, such as that of Khyra Ishaq, have highlighted problems both in deciding which children’s cases get an initial investigation, and with the quality of initial assessments.

“The sheer volume of referrals presents an enormous challenge to initial assessment teams, who often have to make decisions within short timescales, and on the basis of limited information. This combination of pressures can result in quick categorisations, which do not always ensure services meet children’s needs.

“I hope the NSPCC’s updated Ten Pitfalls booklet will help social workers and their managers gain assurance that they have considered all the options as to how a case has been assessed, and are taking the best course of action to protect vulnerable children.”

Ten Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them was originally published by the NSPCC in 1998. However, since its publication there have been significant changes to processes of referral and response in local authority children’s services.

The authors of this new version are all highly respected experts, and have brought together the latest in policy, practice guidance, and lessons from the research literature. For example, multi agency work and information sharing, and the tendency to overlook the vulnerability of older children, are two new additions.

Ten Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them is free to download from