The aim of this chapter is to introduce the notion of a critical best practice perspective on social work which is at the core of this book. It is the first of five chapters in Part I of the book which outline and discuss the concept of critical best practice perspectives and various theoretical issues, while focusing on practice. As was pointed out in the editors’ introduction, social work has become dominated by a ‘deficit approach’ where the focus is on what does not get done (well), and on how social work supposedly ‘fails’. So great have these problems become in the United Kingdom that following a recent very high profile inquiry into the death from abuse of 8-year-old Victoria Climbie, the profession was pronounced by the Times newspaper (January 29, 2003) to be ‘in terminal decline’. The central aim of a critical best practice (CBP) perspective is to promote positive learning about social work by setting out examples of best practice; that is, outlining and analysing instances where it is argued that what social workers did was done well, with all the benefits that can accrue from this for service users.
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