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Child and family

The case study

What follows is an attempt to identify the possible uses of research-based knowledge when applied to a complex case. The case study itself has come from a current research study at the Dartington Social Research Unit. It is useful to bear in mind the three dimensions in the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families:

Diagram of the Assessment Triangle

The case study is presented under four headings of:

  • Case information
  • Key questions
  • Research focused questions
  • Relevant Knowledge

Under the Relevant Knowledge section it is worth saying something about practice expectations of what research and theory might be able to contribute. Researchers typically deal with generalisations about what is known and what can be predicted in relation to groups within identified populations. Practitioners focus on individuals. Sometimes researchers are approached for guidance in relation to specific cases and specific decisions (e.g. what research has to say about the pros and cons of contact between a 7 year old girl and her father who is a Schedule 1 offender).

Practitioners are sometimes disappointed about the lack of specific evidence in high risk cases. At other times practitioners look for material that is so broadly defined that the first priority is to help them focus their curiosity in a more practical way. This is simply to say that Relevant Knowledge links identified here will not answer specific questions but will provide significant context material which enables practice judgements to be more soundly based. It is about a partnership between two sorts of knowledge - derived from practice and research. The texts listed in this section are books with websites linked where appropriate. You will also often find helpful material in journal articles and other print-based sources.

The information under each section: case information; key questions and relevant knowledge is deliberately sparse. Practitioners cannot undertake a literature review for every case they deal with but a few signposts to useful sources are provided in the 'relevant knowledge' section for each stage.

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