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Personalisation in children’s social work

30 October 2015

Study reveals the cultural barriers and practical challenges facing the introduction of personal budgets in children’s social work

A study by Dr Emilie Whitaker, Lecturer in Social Science, focused on a children’s social work team in England during its first year of adopting personalisation, the process which promises choice and control by allocating personal budgets to families.

A number of key concerns were identified by the study, including:

  • The process actually increased paperwork as the user’s needs have to be translated into budgets and then costed in detail
  • This in turn leads to practitioners feeling ‘deskilled’ as the administrative elements of personalisation mean less face-to-face time spent with families
  • The promise of more choice for families cannot always be delivered due to a limited range of services available to use
  • The additional responsibilities placed on families – such as completing quarterly reports and financial monitoring forms – may ‘overload’ those families with high-end levels of need.

Those families able to manage the reporting and administrative duties did, however, praise the flexibility and continuity provided by personalisation.

More information can be found in Dr Whitaker’s research briefing, ‘Personalisation in Children’s social work: An ethnographic study of practice in England’. These research briefings, short summaries communicating key research findings for policy and practice, are published regularly by CASCADE, the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre.

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