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Towards a professional identity and knowledge base: is residential child care still social work?

Smith, M. (2003) Towards a professional identity and knowledge base: is residential child care still social work? Journal of Social Work, 3 (2). pp. 235-252.

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Abstract

In the context of wider debates about the future of social work, it may be timely to reappraise the role of residential child care in the profession. This article raises the question of whether residential child care can achieve a professional identity or status within social work. It outlines the development of services for children and young people in Scotland and highlights some of the tensions apparent in efforts to conceptualize residential child care within the social work knowledge base and identity paradigms.The likely setting of registerable qualifications for workers in residential child care at Vocational Qualification (VQ) level calls into question an erstwhile consensus favouring parity with other areas of social work. This may merely expose more fundamental structural and pedagogical differences between residential child care and the social work profession as it has developed. Possible routes through which residential child care might achieve a professional identity and knowledge base, and some of the requirements for this to come about, are considered.