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Managing contact in Scotland for children in non-permanent out of home placement

Sen, Robin (2010) Managing contact in Scotland for children in non-permanent out of home placement. Child Abuse Review. ISSN 0952-9136

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There has been little research on social workers' views and experiences of managing contact for children in public care, and none focused in Scotland, where different institutional and legal features provide contrast with the rest of the UK. This study explored the views of 19 social work practitioners and managers and three Reporters to the Children's Hearing system regarding the management of contact for children in non-permanent placements, using semi-structured interviews and a focus group. The paper focuses on the themes of the supervision and assessment of contact, risks associated with contact and contact via ICT, e-mail and the internet. It suggests improvements in assessing contact are needed and concludes that while there are strengths in practitioners' current awareness of risks, a risk-based conception of contact, as exemplified by most respondents' views about the use of new technology, is in tension with the thrust of current legislation; conceptions of contact need to be flexible enough to embrace the variety of purposes contact might serve.