Contested views of expertise in children's care and permanence proceedings

Hill, Malcolm and Welch, Vicki and Gadda, Andressa (2017) Contested views of expertise in children's care and permanence proceedings. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 39 (1). pp. 42-66. ISSN 0964-9069

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    Abstract

    In this article, we consider different perspectives on who is best able to provide relevant and helpful expertise in public law cases where the long-term care of children is under consideration. Opinions vary and sometimes conflict on the respective importance of legal, child-centred, and lay understandings. These opinions relate to views on rights, appropriate procedures, decision-making processes, and the effects of decisions on children. Firstly, we summarise literature relevant to the knowledge and skills of three key groups of decision makers within the Scottish child care system: legal professionals, child care professionals and lay decision-makers and outline literature about guardians ad litem and their counterparts. We then discuss issues of expertise emerging from a study exploring the reasons for, and impact of, the appointment of safeguarders (who, in Scotland, perform a similar role to guardians). We conclude that there may be an increasing tendency for disagreement and a lack of clarity about who is able to provide the most relevant and helpful expertise to hearings; this may have negative effects for children.