Protective support and supportive protection for families “in the middle”: Learning from the Irish context
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McGregor, Caroline, & Devaney, Carmel. (2019). Protective support and supportive protection for families “in the middle”: Learning from the Irish context. Child & Family Social Work, 1-9. doi: 10.1111/cfs.12683
This paper critically examines the relationship between statutory family support and child protection using the case study of Ireland. It builds on the work of Devaney and McGregor (2017) to offer an additional contribution to existing frameworks for practice through adapting the Hardiker Exton and Barker (1991) model of prevention. Using evidence from current Irish developments, the case for moving away from linear and simplistic differentiation of family support and child protection is made. Evidence from three main sources in Ireland is presented to develop the argument. This evidence includes the Child Care Law Reporting project (Coulter, 2015, 2018); a recent evaluation of a family support practice model called Meitheal (Rodriguez Cassidy and Devaney, 2018) and recent findings about public awareness of family support (McGregor and NicGabhainn, 2018). We argue that special attention should be paid to families "in the middle" who are in need of both support and protection and propose an adapted version of Hardiker et al. model to aid in this work. We identify what should happen at different levels for macrostructural to micropractice levels. We conclude that the learning from the Irish case study can be applied to an international context.