Even skilled and experienced assessors often lack the skills and knowledge base required to consider the specific issues, strengths and difficulties associated with kinship placements. Many prospective kinship carers perceive welfare agencies as unsupportive and many are excluded from the care panning process. This is most likely to be the process when professionals operate with a value base of 'family dysfunction'. These is a need for a new paradigm for practice.
This paradigm permanency planning is based around supporting the nuclear family. These is much more emphasis for work with the child's extended families, friends and communities as prospective sources of support, information and assessment.
It is against this background that kinship care is emerging as a critical consideration for social workers and the courts when the future of children living away from home is being considered. It is important now not only because of the legal requirement, but also because the number and quality of foster and residential placements is reducing significantly. Kinship care pre-dates it being a social services option, for some time many children have lived with family or friends without the sanction or involvement of social services departments. Such a variation in placement patterns and the inappropriateness of using the existing governmental frameworks for assessment highlights the need to harness the available evidence to inform the development of a specific, sensitive and holistic framework for assessment. The editors have commissioned a range of chapters from practitioners, academics and researchers in the field to try and respond to this need. The book covers a huge territory in an attempt to unify research, theory and practice, including:
a summary of research evidence
a critique of contemporary assessment structures
the legal context
the impact and implications of drug and substance misuse
issues in respect of learning disability
inter-generational sexual abuse
balancing risk and family preservation
This book concludes with the construction of a detailed, practical contemporary framework for conducting assessment of kinship placements that fills the gaps and limitations of the current and incoming assessment structures advocated by central government.
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