The voice of the child in social work assessments: age-appropriate communication with children
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O'Reilly, Lisa; Dolan, Pat (2015). The voice of the child in social work assessments: age-appropriate communication with children. British Journal of Social Work 46 (5), 1191-1207
This article describes a child-centred method for engaging with children involved in the child protection and welfare system. One of the primary arguments underpinning this research is that social workers need to be skilled communicators to engage with children about deeply personal and painful issues. There is a wide range of research that maintains play is the language of children and the most effective way to learn about children is through their play. Considering this, the overarching aim of this study was to investigate the role of play skills in supporting communication between children and social workers during child protection and welfare assessments. The data collection was designed to establish the thoughts and/or experiences of participants in relation to a Play Skills Training (PST) programme designed by the authors. The key findings of the study reveal that the majority of social work participants rate the use of play skills in social work assessments as a key factor to effective engagement with children. Of particular importance, these messages address how social work services can ensure in a child-centred manner that the voice of children is heard and represented in all assessments of their well-being and future care options.