There is good evidence that child protection social work typically over-focuses on the mother–child dyad at the expense of partnership working with fathers and other significant kin in the child’s life (Laird et al., 2017). This narrowness of concern is even more pronounced set against the demise of community and patch social work, which means that practitioners often have little knowledge of the localities where families live (Pierson, 2011). Despite ‘family and environmental factors’ constituting one of the three dimensions of The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need, in practice typically relatively little time is devoted to exploring a ‘family’s social integration’ or ‘community resources’ (both sub-elements) beyond rather superficial enquiries about friends and a list of services (Laird et al., 2017). While the family’s finances are assessed, its socio-economic positioning and the impact of living in a disadvantaged community are often not (Parrott, 2013; Cummins, 2018). The ecological approach to assessing families which involves exploring and analysing their dynamics and functioning within the context of both the wider family and their community is largely absent from social work assessments (Laird et al., 2017;Morris et al., 2017). This is a particularly crucial oversight when families live in a disadvantaged area and have dynamic relationships with localised minority ethnic communities. Therefore this chapter examines the influence and significance of community in the lives of family members.
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