"The Shadow Falls": Understanding the Factors Involved in Decision-Making in Local Authority Children's Services

Prof Doc Thesis

Harvey, Anna 2017. "The Shadow Falls": Understanding the Factors Involved in Decision-Making in Local Authority Children's Services. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.5893
AuthorsHarvey, Anna
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This research explores outcomes for 31 children in 17 families, from parenting
assessment work undertaken by the author in her role as an independent social worker,
for a local authority between 2006 and 2008. The data collected in the course of the
work was used in order to identify themes and patterns across cases, to form an
understanding of the common difficulties faced by families in complex child protection
cases. The assessments were followed up with interviews with the social workers to find
out what had happened to the child or family. The themes arising from these two sets of
data are presented as case studies, highlighting common themes about the
psychodynamic factors affecting decision making in child protection work and the
emotional impact of the work. The study describes a process whereby the social worker
can lose sight of the child’s needs due to the overwhelming needs of the parents. The
findings advocate a process of containment through a model of reflective supervision,
which takes account of the emotional impact of the work, bringing the child back into
focus whilst not losing sight of the parent’s needs. A process of reconnection with the
tragedy behind the cases is also described. This study demonstrates how difficult it is
for one lone social worker to keep the parent and child’s needs in mind and therefore
advocates for a team approach to complex child protection work.

KeywordsChild protection; complex cases; stuck cases; drift; delay; emotional deprivation; impact; unconscious processes; decision making; psychodynamics; psychoanalytic theory; child abuse; Klein
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.5893
Publication dates
PrintMar 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited18 May 2017
Publisher's version
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