Managing child welfare and protection services
By Paul Harrison

To see sections of this book in a PDF, please click here.

Managers must be held to account for failings in childcare services, and must take responsibility for the provision of strong leadership and the effective and appropriate operation of their departments.

High profile tragedies and scandals (Victoria Climbie and Baby P, for example in England, and mirrored elsewhere) remind us of the crucial importance of striving for good management. But they also show that it can easily be forgotten amidst the higher profile debates - in academia, politics and media - over the broad sweep of government policy and the arresting detail of neglect, abuse and death.

Undoubtedly practice and management are inextricably linked; yet, like both ends of a telescope, they have an entirely different view of the world. This book views pertinent and emerging issues in child welfare and protection from a management perspective, with the aspiration of helping management do better.

Using practical examples from both Britain and Ireland it challenges managers, potential managers, supervisors, policy makers, academics and students to view issues from perspectives that are outside mainstream thinking, but which are essential to effective protection, safeguarding, support, care and welfare... in families, in care and in communities.

For managers who wish to reflect upon strategic issues, supervisors who must implement strategic and policy directives, policy makers who need to understand the impact of their decisions on the service provider as well as the service user... it also provides a useful reference for those undertaking and delivering post-graduate education and training.

It places child welfare and protection work in the context of the political climate, societal norms and professional values within which it is performed. It focuses on the evolving issues of globalisation, family structure, the re-balancing of the relationship with families, and the rights of children. It:
  • addresses the management aspects of determining need in an environment that has conflicting demands
  • distinguishes between welfare and protection issues, the former often being misinterpreted as the latter by referees and service providers alike
  • encourages managers to think outside the box to look for creative and innovative solutions
  • promotes the concept of managing for results by using management information to design programmes that work best
  • explores the theme of partnership in its broadest sense, from working with individuals to engaging communities in an effort to maximise effective outcomes
  • makes a case for children to be protected from State care, and protected while in substitute care
  • depicts staff welfare as a management issue and presents ways to protect staff from the ill effects of working in such a pressurised and stressful environment.

  • Delivering services in the context of reforms and expectations requires structural changes as well as changes in the roles and responsibilities of individuals. This book explores the managers' role in leading staff to rise to these challenges.

    Paperback. 128 pages. 978-1-905541-52-2. Published 2009. £16.95.


  • Child welfare managers, supervisors, and policy makers
  • Students and practitioners undertaking post-graduate education and training in child welfare and protection


    Managing to put child protection in perspective
    Contextualising child abuse
    Values and ethics: the cornerstone of practice
    Managing gatekeeping and governanceThe referral
    Eligibility criteria
    How social workers prioritise
    Assessment tools
    Management considerations
    Managing to promote welfare by supporting families
    The refocusing debate
    Core concepts of family support
    Descriptions and levels of family support
    Managing to put policies and principles into practice
    Managing the child protection system
    Defining and categorising child abuse
    Getting the balance right
    Differential response model
    Protecting the right children
    Managing to protect children from and in care
    Definitions and scope
    Protecting children from care
    Protecting children in care
    Managing the care system
    Managing strategically
    Managing for results
    Linking national objectives to local effort
    The 'what works' agenda
    Measuring performance
    Why measure performance?
    Developing suitable performance indicators
    Managing strategically
    Managing partnerships with families and communities
    The meaning of partnership
    Engaging children and families
    Engaging communities
    Managing staff welfare and protection
    Staff welfare is a management issue
    Staff satisfaction and dissatisfaction
    Reasons for staying
    Reasons for leaving
    What managers can do for staff


    Paul Harrison
    has over thirty years' experience of working in children's social services. He holds qualifications in both social work and management and is a member of the Health Management Institute of Ireland. He has held a number of practitioner and management positions within statutory social services in areas such as child protection and welfare, alternative care, family support, homelessness, mental health and addiction. He has also served on the board of management of a variety of voluntary organisations. He is currently working for Ireland's Health Service Executive as a National Specialist for Children's Services, with particular responsibility for child protection. He is the author of Managing Social Care: a Guide for New Managers (RHP, 2006).


    "Combines an awareness of national policy with the necessity of managing resources both financial and human at a local level... a coherent analysis of the complexities of managing child welfare and protection services... outlines the particular moral challenges and dilemmas faced by managers... this book is well researched and thought-out and would provide any reader with food for thought as well as a useful reference tool for ideas and a guide to good practice." Rostrum.

    "Much useful information." Professional Social Work.

    "Firmly rooted in many years of practice and a professional knowledge base… an important contribution to the positive and well founded process of expert professional care of all children." Health Manager.