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Study summarised:

Participatory social work and report writing



Child protection social workers (CPSWs) have to write various kinds of reports, i.e. case notes, progress reports, court reports etc. Through their report writing, social workers can have a significant influence on the outcomes for vulnerable children and at-risk families.

Different practices exist worldwide, from only discussing the report with clients after it has been written to co-writership, where the report is written in the presence of the client, who can give input while it is written. Some CPSWs might focus only on the participation of the parents; others might also involve the children. The authors in this article make a case for “participatory writing” by CPSWs. A participative practice of report writing would imply that the perspective of the children and parents is present in the reports.

What we can learn from this study, is that CPSWs should interrogate their existing report writing practices and ask themselves the following reflective questions.

  • Every time I write a report I should ask myself if the clients you are describing would recognize themselves in what is written down.
  • Would the client feel respected about what was written about them?
  • Does the report provide a descriptive picture of what transpired during the investigation?
  • Is the voice of the client and the child present in your report?
  • Does the report give voice to the client’s views on the support they receive?
  • Does the voice of the child, in the report, reveal how he/she feels about his/her circumstances, what he/she needs to be able to do what she/she needs to do?
  • Does the voice of the parents, in the report, reveal how they feel about the situation, and what assistance they need?
  • Do the voice of children and parents, in the report, reveal how satisfied they are with the social services they have received thus far.
  • Does the report explain what happened, hypothesise why it happened and include the voice of the client on what they think is the cause of what happened?

Carefully summarised by: