20th Anniversary Virtual Special Issue Child Care in Practice

Child Care in Practice

Dr Joe Duffy

This special edition of Child Care in Practice, a ‘virtual’ issue, features a collection of twenty articles that the Editorial Board have selected as making a particularly significant contribution to the journal, its aims and objectives. The journal is now in its 20th year and we felt it was appropriate to celebrate this special anniversary by having a virtual edition containing articles reflecting the diversity of the journal’s scope over the past twenty years. The papers in this edition cover a wide range of topics from child development to strength based approaches in working with children and their families.

In the first paper in the collection, Woodrow (2001) interrogates child development through the lens of social learning theory. Gray (2004) then examines the concept of ‘automaticity’ as another important facet of children’s cognitive development. The author makes important observations and conclusions about promoting a culture of automaticity in the early years practice environment. Devine and Lloyd’s (2012) paper then examines the well-being of children in the context of their engagement with the internet. Interesting conclusions are formulated in this work about the adverse impact on both boys and girls, particularly in regard to the incidence of cyber bullying. Monds-Watson et al (2010) focus on the needs of children at the child protection and mental health interface and conclude that their needs are often not adequately met. In concluding with the latter observation, the UNCRC is used as a context, particularly the ‘best interests’ requirement enshrined in Article 3.

This virtual issue contains a number of papers examining important issues associated with children in receipt of State provided care. Pölkki et al (2012) examine the ‘participation’ experiences of children and young people in foster care. These authors make interesting observations about children’s on-going need for information when decisions are being made affecting their lives. They also point out the skills requirements for social workers in making participation a meaningful reality for children. Taylor and McQuillan’s (2014) paper tackles the question of placement disruption in foster care and proposes practice guidance for more effectively managing such disruption and to better support and meet the needs of everybody directly involved and affected. Greene et al (2008) examine the topic of resilience in the context of inter-country adoption and conclude with evidence of most children’s capacity to overcome adversity in many challenging environmental contexts. O’Brien (2012) then examines the issue of ‘outcomes’ in regard to the situation of children in kinship care. This paper makes interesting suggestions around approaching such ‘relative’ placement through a more structured and reflective lens for all involved. Taggart et al (2007) investigate the needs of young people with learning disabilities living in State provided care and conclude that more finely tuned interventions are needed to support the mental health needs of this particular group of young people in the care population. Coman and Devaney (2011) address the challenges around promoting better outcomes for looked after children. The authors propose an ecological perspective as a conceptual framework for more targeted interventions.

The issue also contains a series of important papers addressing the after care needs of young people transitioning from care. Stein (2008) signposts ways in which young people can be supported in leaving care as an important way to advance and promote their resilience. Coyle and Pinkerton (2012) look at the support required by young people leaving care in their need to effectively transition towards independence. Young et al’s (2014) paper develops the theme of resilience further by looking at this in the context of children’s rights, community development and child protection. These authors conclude that more skilled interventions can result from a more holistic understanding of strengths-based working.

Next in this issue are a range of papers which focus on important aspects of family support and child protection. Devaney (1999) reports on research findings which have informed decision making and interventions in the context of both family support and child protection. Dolan et al (2006) present a theoretical and evidence based approach for practitioners to reflect upon in their engagement as family support workers in meeting the needs of children and families. Pinkerton et al (2003) examine developments in family support in both parts of Ireland and make calls for a more strategically based approach to the future development of family support interventions. Bunting’s (2004) paper examines the international evidence on the efficacy of parenting programmes on outcomes for children. The paper concludes with recognition that parenting programmes need to be seen as an essential and core feature of family support. Atwool’s (2006) paper examines the interaction of attachment and resilience theory and concludes that both can make a combined and complementary contribution to risk minimisation for children at risk and in need of protection. Iwaniec et al’s paper (2007), on a similar theme, investigates the adverse impact of emotionally harmful parenting, pointing to ways in which practitioners may become better informed in their interventions with both parents and children in reducing harm.

The virtual issue concludes with Patrick McCrystal et al’s (2005) paper which makes an important contribution to the literature in its recommendation that young people excluded from mainstream education require additional resources in the context of drug prevention strategies.

The Editorial Board of Child Care in Practice have chosen these twenty papers as a reflection of the broad range of topics and areas offered by the Journal. We feel that these articles are a representation of how the Journal has strived in its quest to present our readership with topics which are current, topical and practice focussed. We do hope you enjoy this virtual issue.

Virtual Special Issue: The Best of 20 Years of Child Care in Practice