'Good Enough Parenting’: Social Workers’ Experiences of Assessing Parenting in Family Safeguarding Services
Research examining social workers experiences of supporting and assessing parenting is limited. Despite existing research indicating there are important skills that facilitate parent and social worker relationships and acknowledging the inherent power dynamics and emotional impact of decision-making, the experience of social workers in this area of research is unknown. This qualitative study aimed to explore the experiences of social workers assessing parenting capacity in the context of family safeguarding. Five social workers from a single location family safeguarding service participated in semi-structured interviews exploring how they make sense of supporting and assessing parenting, personally and professionally. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, three master themes were identified: 'bringing the past into the present and future identity'; 'delicate balancing act' and 'sustaining oneself in a maligned profession'. These themes reflect social workers' personal and professional impact on assessing parenting capacity in family safeguarding services. Areas of convergence and divergence between these findings and previous theory and research are discussed. Implications for social work practice, supervision and training are highlighted, including the importance of self-reflection, peer support and the value of mentorship to be incorporated throughout social workers' careers in child protection/family safeguarding services.
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