Social workers on the Child Care Programme at Queens University Belfast help develop new parenting capacity assessment framework.
Professional in Practice (PiP)- the NI Social Work Professional Development Framework (previously known as the PQ Framework) is aimed at developing the knowledge and skills of social workers, to support their development as competent, confident professionals.
To assist social workers in their continuing professional development, they are sharing information and learning from the PiP Programmes with social work practitioners, researchers and education interests to demonstrate how they influence social work and organizational practice.
A recent article by Professor Stan Houston of Queens University Belfast (Houston, 2014) which was published in the journal, Child and Family Social Work, presents a model for assessing parenting capacity and highlights how social workers can develop their practice. Stan Houston anticipates that it will add rigour to professional judgements about parenting capacity and enhance formulations on risk in child protection.
The article sets out the process for developing the model. Informed by the work of Trevithick (2005), it was underpinned by three knowledge domains: theoretical, factual and practice. It is practice knowledge that makes the model distinct and unique. Practice knowledge was collected through structured discussions with around 84 experienced social workers (over a 7 year period) who took part in interactive teaching on the model as part of a safeguarding module on the Child Care Pathway. The social workers’ contributions were based on their reflections on parenting capacity assessment and risk. A number of students also applied aspects of the developing model to their practice and critically reflected on its use through a written assignment.
Social workers on the programme had clear ideas about what they wanted from an assessment model on parenting capacity. It had to be easily understood, used in a range of challenging circumstances, and valued by other professionals, and families. It also had to fit with practice demands and be a useful tool when giving evidence in court.
Finally, it had to be strengths based, solution-focussed and collaboratively-based (Houston, 2014). The development of this model exemplifies not only how approved programmes contribute to the acquisition of social workers’ knowledge and skills but also how they can contribute to changes to practice.
Further information about this work and other research carried out by Stan Houston is also available from:
Click on the link below to view the full article on Assessing Parenting Capacity.
Houston 2014 - Assessing parenting capacity in child protection