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Social Work and Social Policy Seminar Series

An examination of how child neglect guidance is communicated and implemented from Government to Local Safeguarding Children Boards to frontline statutory services

Claire Monk

Previous research has highlighted that child neglect is a significant factor in child deaths, and should therefore be taken as seriously as other forms of abuse. Child neglect is a multifaceted, ‘wicked’ issue, which requires a multi-dimensional response from many professionals. With such multi-dimensional perspectives, however, arise difficulties in defining the problem and agreeing solutions. The aim of this study was therefore, to examine how guidance about child neglect is passed from government to the Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) for local implementation and coordination. The study adopted a qualitative, multiple case study approach, and used semi structured interviews. It used a governance network model to discuss and present the findings. Research findings indicate that child neglect messages coming out from government are disjointed, inconsistent and often unclear, making it difficult for LSCBs to develop a clear and informed understanding of the policy problem. In turn, LSCBs do not have a dissemination strategy for transferring their neglect messages to operational and front-line practitioners. This is often an ad hoc process, and responsibility for disseminating guidance disappears once the send button has been pressed. Furthermore, front-line practitioners did not perceive email as being the most effective format for communicating guidance, preferring instead face-to-face forms of knowledge transfer.

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