This BASW England policy document, compiled by the Children and Families thematic group, is a resource for mid-career social workers in children’s services, their managers and policymakers.

It highlights and reaffirms some over-arching approaches that the BASW England considers central to the day-to-day practice of children and families social workers. Legislation, particularly the Children Act 1989, demonstrates the need for these approaches to England’s children and families social work practice. However, the approaches mentioned in this document are also relevant for the other UK countries. 

This document complements BASW’s A Vision for Social Work: Children and Families, which is a UK-wide vision, and The context, roles and tasks of the child and family social worker explicitly produced by the BASW England Children and Families Group. Both of these clearly define the roles and aims of children and families social workers and the different contexts in which they provide social work services to children, families and carers. They mainly describe the ‘what’ by reflecting the reality of practice, and they are primarily aimed at those who are not themselves social workers. This scoping paper seeks to explore the ‘how’ further, especially for early-career social workers or those moving into this area of practice.

Central to this document is recognition that children and families social work is grounded in legislative duties, powers, social justice, social work theory, and professional ethics and approaches.

The first part of this scoping paper explores some of the key complexities within children and families social work and demonstrates that our work is grounded in children’s and human rights.

The second part explores some of the current social work theory, which draws on the wide range of relevant research, theory and practice publications available at qualifying, post-qualifying and more specialist career stages.

It is not intended as a definitive list. Instead, it should encourage further reading and critical reflection. The scoping paper illustrates just some of the key resources, theories, and approaches that can assist children and families social workers in traversing the complex spaces and continuums inherent in the profession. It is also recognised that whilst there has been a lot of focus on social work responses to child maltreatment in much of the recent children and families social work literature, the approaches are also relevant to other areas. These include but are not limited to children with disabilities, community group work, and support for children that do not live with their birth parents and their carers.