Journal Articles

Please find below a list of journal articles we have identified relating to our programme of work.

This article reports on the outcomes of a research study on the early imple-mentation of a strengths-based family-centred model of practice in Ireland known as the Meitheal model. The paper aims to translate the key messages from this research to practice with families involved in the child welfare sys-tem. This is done by highlighting the process by which intervention focused on support and prevention using a strengths perspective has begun to occur in practice. Using data collected from stakeholders involved in the implementa-tion of the practice model, the research provides insight into the opportunities and challenges involved at macro and micro-levels of practice. The discussion links this development in Ireland to the wider international context, using three broad frameworks informed by the ecological model; a framework for determining thresholds in children’s services and the continuum of interven-tion between support and protection to inform system change aimed at enhancing family support and better outcomes for children and families. Underpinning this is an emphasis on how Meitheal as a strengths-based approach can influence the achievement of the principles of early interven-tion, prevention and family support in the child welfare system in Ireland.

Increasing government interest in parenting support has emerged in response to the increasingly diverse form of families, a growing emphasis on children’s rights and a policy shift towards prevention and early intervention. This has contributed to a range of stakeholder activity in the area, with the notion that parenting is a set of skills that can be learned now widespread. The need to establish “what works” in parenting support has resulted in considerable research, with evidence supporting the provision of universally accessible supports for all parents which can be tailored for those with additional needs. Simultaneously, an increasing body of evaluation research has resulted in positive evidence-based outcomes for a range of parenting support programmes. This article presents an overview of the policy and practice of parenting support, exploring the international and national literature on what works in improving parental capacity, and detailing the wide-scale emergence of parenting as a policy imperative. The article presents the Irish context, describing the diversity of the population, mapping the current service provision landscape and detailing the strategic direction and emerging parenting support programme of work within Tusla, the statutory Child and Family Agency.

  • Helen, L. and Wright, V. (2017) 'Creating space for children and young people’s engagement in international conferences'. The International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 21, No. 1, Pages 47-58.  

Globally, never before has there been such formal support of children’s and young people’s meaningful participation, nor has there been so many attempts to make it a reality. Despite support, institutional structures and adult decision makers have not been able to engage in a paradigm shift and to involve children meaningfully, effectively and sustainably. Children’s participation in their own protection can improve these protection efforts through clarifying children’s specific needs and collaboratively finding solutions. This article will use the 2015 Facilitating International Child Participation in Child Protection Conference to explore critical issues at the intersection between children’s participation and child protection and the role of interconnectedness and collaboration between children and adults within and across sectors to identify opportunities for children and young people to be engaged as partners in international conferences and meetings. The scholars, practitioners, policymakers and young people from diverse disciplines and sectors identified current ethical, legal, political and practical tensions and priorities affecting the field. The author posits that learnings and action points from the conference can act as a pivotal leverage point to build a continuous exchange between children and adults on the development of policies, programmes and measures in relevant contexts. The article will conclude with recommendations for future conferences and continuous collaboration between children and adults in international forums.

Meitheal is a national practice model which aims to ensure that the needs and strengths of children and their families are effectively identified, understood and responded to in a timely manner. The aim of this article is to consider some of the notable learning from the historical background and context in the development of children and family services. The discussion draws together four interrelated themes: the interaction between the voluntary and statutory systems, the interface of family and child oriented services, balancing formal and informal responses to child welfare, and early intervention and prevention services. The complexity of this endeavour is emphasised through identifying the core considerations required at the levels of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model. The article concludes with a commentary on how the future of child welfare in Ireland may be influenced through this attempt at a reorientation of children and family services towards early intervention, prevention, partnership and participation.

  • Berry, M., Brandon, M., Chaskin, R., Fernandez E., Grietens, H., Lightburn, A., McNamara, P.M., Munford, R., Palacio-Quintin, E., Sanders J., Warren-Adamson, C. & Zeira, A. (2006) ‘Identifying sensitive outcomes of interventions in community based centres’. International Journal of Child & Family Welfare, Vol. 1, No. 2, Pages 2-10.

This article provides an introductory overview of international collaborations exploring the experiences and methodological challenges to understand proximal or sensitive outcomes that will lead to long term outcomes in the context of community and family based centres that target to achieve positive outcomes and reduce negative ones in the area of child well-being.Brandon M. (2006) ‘Confident workers, confident families: Exploring sensitive outcomes in family centre work in England’, International Journal of Child & Family Welfare, 1-2, 36-78.This article reports on a case study evaluation of an English Family Centre, it is focused specifically on the creation of ‘culture of care’ which enhanced a sense of confidence and competence in both families and workers. This ‘culture of care’ also had an impact on external teams and individuals that are in contact with the service agency. This provides a different perspective on child and family services, beyond defensive, bureaucratic and procedurally led practice only.

  • Dillon, J., Greenop, D. and Hills, M. (2016) 'Participation in child protection: A small-scale qualitative study'. Qualitative Social Work, Vol. 15, No. 1, Pages 70-85.

This small-scale qualitative study explores how children participate in their own child protection/child in need planning within a statutory setting in England. Their experience of participation and the impact that voicing their wishes and feelings had on outcomes are highlighted and discussed against a background of conflicting discourses of statutory safeguarding and empowering participation, barriers to engagement and hearing the child’s voice. 

  • Churchill, H. and Fawcett, B. (2016) 'Refocusing on early intervention and Family Support: A review of child welfare reforms in New South Wales, Australia'. Social Policy and Society, Vol. 15, No. 2, Pages 303-316.

This article reports on child welfare transformation process in New South Wales which has many similarities to the current transformations in the Irish child welfare system with the introduction of Tusla and in particular the development of a specific Parenting, Prevention and Family Support Programme (PPFS).