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Contemporary Family Justice

Contemporary Family Justice

Kim Holt | Sir James Munby


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Book Details


Demonstrating how the law and statutory guidance applies in practice, this book is a critical account of current family justice policy and practice.

It draws on recent legislation, case law and research findings to provide clear, accessible information and advice on how to make the difficult decisions in pre-proceedings child care practice work. With reference to child protection legislation and practice frameworks, this book highlights the importance of undertaking informed and effective assessments based on the best outcome for the child. The book acknowledges the constraints facing practitioners, such as working under considerable pressure within tight time frames and focuses on the issues which commonly present as challenges for practice, such as neglect, child sexual exploitation and pre-birth assessments.

This is essential reading for students and practitioners in social work and law, as well as policy-makers and other professionals concerned with the current state of child welfare.

This is a very interesting, important, challenging and in places appropriately provocative book which everyone involved professionally with the multi-faceted challenges of child protection would do well to read.
From the Foreword by Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division
This essential text has an engaging, contemporary feel to it that challenges the reader to reflect upon practice. Based upon research and an analysis of recent changes to practice, Holt presents the aspirations and subsequent impact of the public law outline. The book provides an enriching and stimulating debate as it explores the tensions and dilemmas inherent within the operationalisation of the public law outline. The structure and use of case studies bring the process to life offering concrete learning opportunities for students. It not only provides complex material in an accessible way but provides a detailed account of the legal process. It is refreshing to find a socio-legal textbook that moves beyond mere description. A forthright, honest and helpful account of the complex world of assessment and decision making in child protection within our current family justice system.
Dr Louise Brown, Reader in Social Work, University of Bath

The family justice review (2010) did little to enhance relationships between family justice practitioners and social workers. The former argued that the proposed changes, in the absence of increased resources for local authorities and changes in social work practices with families (to permit more face to face time with children and improved engagement and assessment of parents), would lead to injustices. This book is seminal: it demonstrates in detail how those injustices are played out.

Holt argues that in every aspect of the new system reduced resources and costs to the state dominate activities. Whether or not that is what the modernization programme intended, Holt argues we now operate in a culture driven by timescales, targets and protocols which in effect paralyses good social work and guardian practices and in which we have lost sight of the central players: the children and parents for whom the system exists.

Holt says this book is a key text for practitioners in family justice: it is more than that. When social workers, lawyers and researchers independently come to the same conclusions about the decline in family justice and the availability of courts as an independent, protective, problem solving forum for the most vulnerable children and families in the face of state activities, it is time for policy makers to listen.

Julia Brophy, Principal Investigator, Family Justice
Kim Holt is Professor of Social Work and Family Law and Head of Department for Social Work and Communities at Northumbria University and a qualified barrister in the area of Family Law. Prior to being called to the bar in 2005 Kim practised as a social worker in the area of child protection for 20 years.
This impassioned and timely text makes an important contribution to the continuing debate on family justice reform. The author draws on contemporary research and professional insight to produce a critical, challenging and highly readable account.
Professor Alison Brammer, School of Law, Keele University

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Contemporary Family Justice - Policy and Practice in Complex Child Protection Decisions by Kim Holt 3
Foreword 7
Acknowledgements 9
Preface 10
1. The Origin of Remote Control Practice 11
2. The Remote Control Approach in the Family Courts 29
3. Mediation 44
4. Why Parents Matter 62
5. Decision Making and Planning for Children 77
6. Challenges for Practice 94
7. Findings from Research 113
Conclusion: What has Happened since the Family Justice Review 131
Glossary 143
Case references 148
References 150
Index 162
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