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About this book

Across 30 chapters, a team of experienced teachers and practitioners introduce the fundamental professional issues concerning children, young people and their families in the 21st century. 'Working with Children and Families' explores the diverse contexts in which children develop, and the policies and practices that directly affect them – essential knowledge for effective practice.

Offering a multidisciplinary approach, this inclusive text gives a broad range of perspectives to support the study of children and childhood. Take a look inside to discover more about:

Key policies and agendas: introduces the policies, agendas and government guidance that serve as the foundation of children's services

Contemporary issues: tackles complex topics such as anti-discriminatory and ethical practice, child protection and safeguarding

Reflective practice: offers reflective activities throughout to help you engage, understand and apply knowledge in practice

Diversity: helps you understand the variety of backgrounds and experiences children may have – from sociological, psychological, educational and cultural perspectives

Integrative working: focuses holistically on the child, rather than on specific professional approaches, offering insight into important themes in all areas of work with children.

This text offers a broad basis from which to launch into any area of work or study involving children, including early years, social work, education, social policy, nursing, sociology and childhood studies. It is great introductory reading for foundation and undergraduate degree level students.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Frontmatter

Introduction

Abstract
This book aims to provide practitioners working with children and their families with a broad range of material to underpin their practice. The intended readers of the book include the very varied workforce of children’s services, including managers and practitioners; social workers, teachers and children’s and nursery nurses; childminders; healthcare, nursery and teaching assistants; children’s activity coordinators and workers, in the statutory, private, independent and voluntary sectors.
Robert Adams

Introducing Working with Children and Families

Frontmatter

1. Working Together with Children and Families

Abstract
This chapter provides a critical context for the study of children and the practice of working with them, whether in education or social services. It offers a general introduction to services for children and their families, as well as the main policies and legal contexts. The practice of work with children, their parents, carers and families is shaped by the major policy and legal changes of the early 21st century, and particularly by the services and provisions put in place by past and present governments.
Robert Adams

2. History and Traditions in Education and Care

Abstract
The conditions in which many children live and are brought up, as well as the parenting they receive in the context of their family and environment, have provoked concern and remedial action by philanthropists and governments from the mid-19th century to the present day. Late Victorian founders of charities, such as Dr Barnardo, were moved by the condition of pauper children. In a different vein, but no less important, are the campaigns against child labour by Victorian activists, such as the Rev. Charles Kingsley, reflected in his book The Water Babies, which was inspired by the appalling conditions endured by child chimney sweeps, forced to climb inside chimneys to clean them. Twentieth and 21st-century counterparts are UN and European conventions and laws, plus campaigns by organizations such as the Children’s Legal Centre, defending and promoting the rights of children. Finally, we have the many thinkers and practitioners who have contributed to the development of services — from playgroups and nurseries to elementary and primary schools — to educate and care for children and encourage their health development.
Robert Adams

Social and Psychological Perspectives on Childhood and Child Development

Frontmatter

3. The Social Construction of Childhood

Sociological Approaches to the Study of Children and Childhood
Abstract
In recent years, childhood has become a far more contested phenomenon, with public commentary shifting between the reporting of its terminal decline through to the promotion of a new pluralized and culturally embedded version of the child. Arguably, it is clear now that policy makers and professionals have embraced the latter view, working alongside children and their families in providing them with the support needed to take more control of their lives (Mayall, 2002). In this chapter, the sociological basis of this approach, the social construction of childhood, is outlined. First, I discuss the importance of the cultural and social dimensions of childhood and go on to explore the implications this has for understanding children’s lives. I then discuss the social construction of childhood in terms of the different ways that we might view children’s lives. Here we can start to talk about the diversity of childhoods. Finally, I explain why an emphasis on the cultural and social realms can lead to insights on children’s identities as relatively independent, rights-bearing members of society. In the final section, by way of a critique of social constructionism, I briefly explore alternative ways of researching children and childhood.
Michael Wyness

4. Social and Emotional Development

Entering the Social World
Abstract
Complexity of factors influencing the child’s social development Most psychologists believe that both biological and social influences have an impact on how we develop. However, it is more of a problem to decide just how important various factors are and how they interact with each other.
Sandy Hobbs, Jim McKechnie

5. Understanding Right and Wrong

Moral Development
Abstract
Imagine a nursery where two three-year-old children are playing at the sandpit. Suddenly, one of them starts to pull on the other child’s bucket and to hit the other child. Two adults quickly move in; one seeks to comfort the ‘victim’, while the other pulls away the ‘attacking’ child, saying that the behaviour is ‘bad’ and you are ‘not allowed to hit other people’, because ‘it’s wrong’.
Jim McKechnie, Sandy Hobbs

6. Developing through Play

Abstract
Play makes a vital contribution to the cognitive and linguistic development of the child, and is instrumental in the formation of friendships. Play and peer interactions also allow children to develop important skills such as conflict resolution, empathy and moral understanding (see Chapter 5), and these important cognitive skills in turn facilitate the development of more sophisticated play activities (Eisenberg and Fabes, 1990, 1998; Harris, 2003; Kavale and Forness, 1996; Ricaud-Droisy and Zaouche-Gaudron, 2003). In this chapter, we will discuss the different types of play, examine the role of play in child development, and identify the importance of play in educational and therapeutic settings. We will begin our discussions with a brief historical account of play.
Robert Adams, Lesley Jessiman

7. Perspectives on How Children Develop and Learn

Abstract
There are many different definitions of learning but generally when we say that an individual has learned something, we mean that they have acquired some factual knowledge, skills or both, which they did not have before. However, we can also learn behaviours and emotional responses to objects, people and events, such as agoraphobia, a learned fear of public spaces.
Elizabeth A. Boyle

The Child and Family Life

Frontmatter

8. The Family in Social Context

Abstract
The family is something that most of us grow up in and which forms an important part of our society — it is what sociologists refer to as a ‘social institution’. It is therefore easy to take it for granted and not give it a further thought. However, to study children and work with them in an informed way, we need to look more closely at the family: what we mean by the term; how it changes over time; and how different cultures have different conceptions of family. If we are unclear about these important issues, we may be basing practice on an oversimplified understanding of the issues involved when studying children or understanding a child, and that can be dangerous.
Neil Thompson

9. The Influence of Parents, Siblings and Friends

Abstract
Childhood is a period of rapid development and as the child grows older, the balance between personality, family and environment changes. For example, as the child gets older, we can observe them interacting more and more with other children and adults beyond those of their own family. Thus, as the child engages in more formally structured settings such as nursery school, there are greater opportunities for formal as well as informal learning.
Lesley Jessiman, Robert Adams

10. Parenting and Family Relationships in Context

Abstract
Parenting can be considered to be the facilitation of child development (Woodcock, 2003) and it is generally recognized that the parenting a child receives is an important influence on their future development. It is commonly agreed that there are a number of factors that separate successful from unsuccessful parenting. These include the degrees of warmth/coldness, praise/criticism, consistency, sensitivity, responsiveness, availability and disciplinary control. Standard 2 of the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (DH/DfES, 2004a) is that:
Parents or carers are enabled to receive the information, services and support that will help them to care for their children and equip them with the skills they need to ensure that their children have optimum life chances and are healthy and safe.
Terence O’Sullivan

11. Working with Young Carers and their Families

Abstract
Young caring is an often overlooked aspect of the lives of many children and young people. It forms an important strand of their experience, which is often invisible to those outside the family, including practitioners. This chapter examines what young caring is, how common it is, and how children are affected by it. It discusses some of the main implications of these realities for practitioners who work with children, young people and their families.
Robert Adams

12. Working with Children through Family Break-up and Reconstitution

Abstract
Families break up and are reconstituted for many reasons. Sometimes it is because the parents split up, one of the parents dies, or there is abuse of the child by one or more family members and the child is removed to a place of safety. Whatever the cause, the consequences for the child are often severe stress and disruption of the household.
Robert Adams

13. Working with Children through Adoption and Fostering

Abstract
The three main ‘care’ options for children ‘looked after’ by the local authority are foster care, adoption and residential care (the latter is discussed in Chapter 14).
Robert Adams

14. Working with Children through Residential Care

Abstract
Formerly, children were taken ‘into the care’ of the local authority (see Chapter 1), whereas nowadays they are described as being ‘looked after’. Looked after children most commonly are fostered and a small proportion are adopted (see Chapter 13). This chapter discusses a third group, those living in residential care establishments.
Robert Adams

15. Children, Grieving and Loss

Abstract
Loss can be seen as something that occurs naturally at each stage of life. Any change, positive or negative, involves a loss of some sort, but we do not consider all these changes to be losses as such. If you care about someone or something, when it is gone, you will feel the loss. We might call this a grief reaction. Often grief is defined as the emotional reaction to a loss — it is how you feel about it. Grief shows itself not just in emotional responses like crying and feeling sad but also in anger, low energy and lack of concentration or not wanting to be with other people. It might be shown in trying to put on a brave face or being responsible for others. Some children behave badly, others become incredibly well behaved. Some have lots of minor illnesses like colds. You can begin to see that there is a reaction to loss, but how it is shown is varied and it is important to listen and notice these changes so that a helpful response can be made.
Maggie Jackson

Ethics, Values and Professional Practice

Frontmatter

16. Working Ethically with Children

Abstract
It is difficult to explain ethics, values and principles of practice in a limited space, because there are a number of different angles from which ethics and values can be approached, such as philosophical, professional or political (Banks, 2008). In this chapter, our concern is with the professional perspective, looking at the definitions and guidelines that shape day-to-day practice with children.
Alison Cocks, Robert Adams

17. Participation by Children, Parents and Carers

Abstract
There are two main reasons why it is important to include children in decisions made about their lives:
1.
The UK government signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (UN, 1989) (see Chapter 1).
 
2.
The government has made this a priority in, for example, Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003a) and the standards of the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (DH/DfES, 2004a) (see Chapter 1).
 
Pat Watson, Wade Tovey

18. Inequality, Exclusion and Equality-based Practice

Abstract
This chapter examines how different aspects of social inequality and social exclusion affect the quality of the lives of children and how they operate cumulatively.
Robert Adams

19. Working with Challenging and Difficult Children

Abstract
There is an inverse relationship between children’s age and public tolerance of their minor and major misdemeanours. It is not too gross a generalization to say that in Western countries such as the UK there is a continuum from the very positive ways adults respond to infants in their prams and cots, to the intolerant and often punitive responses displayed to challenging behaviour by older children and young people. At the same time, difficult behaviour can become apparent at any time in the life course and is certainly not impossible even at a very young age in childhood. In Western countries, the dominant culture has tended to remain firmly unsympathetic towards children once they begin to assert their autonomy and test out their boundaries. To some extent, it is a subjective matter to judge what constitutes difficult behaviour. There is no objective standard, fixed for all time and for all cultures, of acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour. Historically in the UK, children were expected to be seen and not heard, or preferably not seen at all. In some ethnic groups and social classes, children are closely supervised by parents, whereas in others they have a good deal of freedom and there is much more tolerance of their behaviour. Whether behaviour is regarded as difficult is largely a function of cultural and social norms and boys may be granted more latitude than girls in some situations.
Robert Adams, Terry Thomas, David Thompson

Child Welfare

Frontmatter

20. Promoting the Health, Safety and Wellbeing of Children

Abstract
Health is not merely the absence of disease or physical injury. A person’s state of health was defined in the preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization in 1948 as ‘a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity’. Clearly, no person is completely healthy in these terms, but this concept of health focuses health on the positives in a person’s life, rather than on the deficits. Thus, according to this holistic view, good health is the extent to which a person is able to make the most of their physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social potential, satisfy their basic needs and achieve their aspirations. The best-known statement of the complexity and range of people’s needs is by the psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908–70). His work is significant because it draws not only on psychological but also social and anthropological perspectives on people’s needs and how to meet or fulfil them. The most widely known form of Maslow’s five-level ‘hierarchy of needs’ originates in his early publication (Maslow, 1943), but he added to this over the following 20 years and this results in an eight-level pyramid of needs (Adams, 2008b), as shown in Figure 20.1.
Robert Adams

21. Child Mental Wellbeing

Abstract
A child’s mental wellbeing is as important as their physical wellbeing and childcare professionals have an important role in preventing and responding to child mental distress. The first of ten markers of good practice in Standard Nine of the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services (DH/DfES, 2004a, p. 4) is that:
All staff working directly with children and young people have sufficient knowledge, training and support to promote the psychological well being of children, young people and their families and identify early indicators of difficulty.
Terence O’Sullivan

22. Parental Mental Health and Child Wellbeing

Abstract
It might be assumed that a parent with a psychiatric diagnosis will have difficulty providing the nurturing, supportive home life that a child needs for their own mental wellbeing. This can sometimes be the case, but it should not be assumed to be so. The impact of parental mental ill health should be judged by the parent’s behaviour and the support available to that parent, not just their diagnosis. For instance, where additional problems like drug or alcohol misuse are evident, or the home circumstances seem very difficult, or family relationships are troubled, then a practitioner should expect that a good deal of support will be needed. Where the partner and other family members are providing good support, and the parent is receiving the treatment they need, there may be much less cause for concern.
Jennifer Newton

23. Safeguarding Children

Abstract
This chapter aims to help you understand how you can safeguard children and how best to handle any suspicion of abuse or neglect. Because safeguarding children is the primary responsibility of social workers, the role of the social worker is also explained here. It is vital for all practitioners to understand the safeguarding roles carried out by social workers as well as by other professionals. Alongside reading this chapter, it is important for you to access your local child protection procedures. These will be available from your Local Safeguarding Children Board. You also need to become familiar with Chapter 5 of Working Together to Safeguard Children (DfE, 2010a), which is available from the DfE website.
Liz Davies

24. Assessment and Intervention in Work with Children in Need

Abstract
In the previous chapter, we saw how the multiprofessional responsibilities of practitioners are exercised in safeguarding children. This chapter focuses on the core contribution of social work when a child is identified as in need or perhaps even in danger. Whichever area of working with children and families you are interested in, it is important for successful integrated working and a comprehensive knowledge base that you understand the process of assessing and potentially intervening when a child is in need.
Robert Adams

Diversity and Difference

Frontmatter

25. Inclusive Practice and Diversity in Religious Family Life

Abstract
The Children Act 1989 (see Chapter 1) requires local authorities to ‘give due consideration to the child’s religious persuasion’. The Act is underpinned by a belief that children, young people and their parents should be treated as individuals. In order to achieve this, differences in child rearing, due to family structure, religion, culture and ethnic origins, should be respected and understood (DH/DfEE/Home Office, 2000). While some, such as Voas and Crockett (2005), argue that religion is losing its relevance in the 21st century, it is important to recognize that only 15% of the adult population in the UK (DWP/National Statistics, 2004) and 5% of married couples and parents in the USA identified themselves as having no religious affiliation (Mahoney et al., 2001). What appears to be happening is that the construction of religion is changing from one that included the institution and traditional practices, such as attending places of worship, to one that focuses more on human potential (Pargament et al., 2005). This change is captured in the guidance to the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families:
Religion or spirituality is an issue for all families whether white or black. A family who do not practise a religion, or who are agnostic or atheists, may still have particular views about the spiritual upbringing and welfare of their children. For families where religion plays an important role in their lives, the significance of their religion will also be a vital part of their cultural traditions and beliefs. (DH/DfEE/Home Office, 2000, p. 49, s. 2.69)
Jan Horwath, Janet Lees

26. Working with Challenges to Children’s Identities

Abstract
This chapter explores some of the aspects of identity that are likely to impinge on work with children. It is important to be aware of the ways in which growing up and living in the contemporary Western world presents children and young people with challenges that were not part of the nonindustrial, traditional society, where the pathway from childhood to adulthood was clearly marked out and did not change from generation to generation. While it has always been true that children’s identities are in transition throughout childhood, and certain developmental changes affect them physically, emotionally and socially, these transitions are more complex and demanding in the modern world.
Robert Adams

27. Young Children with Physical Impairments

Abstract
Working with children with physical impairments poses a challenge of recognizing the unique human qualities of an individual child, rather than seeing only the problems of the impairment. Because practitioners are used to problem solving, they instinctively look for problems in every situation — they may focus on physical impairment, and miss crucial developmental needs.
Patricia Higham

28. Working with Children with Learning Disabilities

Abstract
One of the most challenging aspects in writing about children with learning disabilities is that the term itself is problematic and continues to be debated. Within this chapter, I base my discussion on the viewpoint of the British Institute of Learning Disabilities that learning disability is when intellectual impairment impacts on a person’s overall functioning in life, limiting the opportunities available for them to fully participate in their lives. However, it needs to be clear that, first and foremost, children are children. As with all children, they will also carry a range of other characteristics and identities, such as race, religion, gender, personality and family.
Alison Cocks

29. Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Travellers

Abstract
This chapter brings together discussion of refugees, asylum seekers and Travellers, because they share certain features in their problematic legal status in society, their frequent experiences of discrimination and social exclusion, and the particular challenges posed in work with their children.
Robert Adams

30. Concluding Comment

Prospects for Work with Children and Families
Abstract
The purpose of this book has been to identify and examine the major contexts for work with children and their families. This has entailed taking a broad view of childhood, children and the work of practitioners with children and their families. The field of policy and practice has changed significantly during the latter stages of preparing the book for publication and this chapter provides an indication of the implications of these for practice. We do this in two parts. The first identifies the main policy changes taking place during the past twelve months. The second pulls together the implications of this, together with the other material in the book, for practitioners in their work with children and families.
Robert Adams
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