Models of good practice informed by “the latest theory and research” (DfE 2011, p23) are seen to be key to the liberation of social workers from the shackles of proceduralised practice (Munro 2005, Fish et al 2008, Cross et al 2010, DfE 2011, Munro & Hubbard 2011). However, the complex interrelationship between theory and practice has not been satisfactorily explicated, contributing to perceptions of a 'theory-practice gap'. The study aims to uncover the reality of social workers' use of theory in everyday practice with children and families involved in family court proceedings by seeking the perspectives of qualified practitioners in the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) and a Local Authority Safeguarding Children team. The study finds that social workers value being theory- and research-informed, and that the use of theory is often, but not always, implicit. Theory is found to form part of an integrative model of practice that also comprises values, relational skills and experiential knowledge. Informed by a critical social perspective, the study concludes by illuminating potential avenues for further research and recommends ways in which organisations providing social services and those providing social work education can meet their moral obligation to close the 'theory-practice gap' in order to improve outcomes for service users.
|Place of Publication||Durham|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|