IMG 2189

Social work practice in the family court: Practice Tool (2017)

Published: 18/12/2017

Author: Baynes P, Cook R



Research and theory informs social work practice and decision-making throughout involvement in a child’s and family’s life. This includes effective, relationship-based practice, identifying the nature of risk of harm and capacity for change, and assessing permanence options and the possible outcomes of decisions taken.

In court, the primary authorities are statute and case law. Social workers’ evidence will draw together the facts of the case, their empirical observations and a clear account of the child or young person’s wishes, set within the framework of statue and case law. Integrating research and theory into high quality written evidence, analysis and care planning requires analytical thinking, clarity of writing and confidence.

Knowledge from research about how best to keep children safe and support families is developing all the time. Social workers need to be able to keep up-to-date and to evaluate research critically from an ethical perspective rooted in social work principles of empowering and supporting families; while being conscious of the wider social and political environment in which they operate. Respectful scepticism is as important in response to research and policy as it is when working with families.

Professional Standards

PQS:KSS - Designing a system to support effective practice | Developing excellent practitioners | Support effective decision-making | Promote and govern excellent practice | Confident analysis and decision-making | Performance management and improvement | Analysis, decision-making, planning and review | The law and the family and youth justice systems

PCF - Professionalism | Values and ethics | Rights, justice and economic wellbeing | Knowledge | Critical reflection and analysis | Intervention and skills | Professional leadership