In this book we examine working with children and young people within a changing landscape of practice, policy and public opinion. Many of the profound changes in the organisation and focus of the children’s workforce in the UK can be linked to wider political, social, cultural and economic changes. Since the 1970s, globalisation has led to greater mobility of capital and populations between communities and nations, and the process of individualisation, started in the 1960s, has evolved and interrelated with the later emergent emphasis on consumption and choice (Parton, 2006). As a result, in the early twenty-first century, practice with children and young people operates within a context of changing family structures and networks of support, a mixed economy (involving state, private and third sector agencies) of health, social care and education, and intense media scrutiny. There have been political and policy changes including a divergence of practice approaches and frameworks across the four UK nations, greater government regulation of services and the reorganisation of the children’s workforce in pursuit of a wide range of economic, health and social goals. There has also been a shift in emphasis in children’s services, policy and research towards partnership working with children and young people rather than imposing practice solutions on them. In part this has been the result of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has also been influential in exposing and changing government policy on children’s rights (for example in 2008, the UK government finally extended the ‘best interest’ rule to immigrant children), although criticisms are still levelled at the UK’s record on corporal punishment (UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2008).
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