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Our work in children’s social care

Working with families facing social and economic challenges, working for organisations facing political and financial challenges, working while facing our own challenges: social care in the twenty-first century can feel overwhelming.

Research and theory can't change the challenging circumstances, but a sound understanding of neuroscience and its implications can provide a secure base for practice in troubled times. Our associates have decades of experience of working to transform the lives of the most vulnerable children and young people in our society, and we know we can help to make a difference.

fostering, adoption and residential care

For a child, separation from their family is a trauma. This is true even when the family has been the source of trauma for the child (and many children in public care are separated from their families because they have been neglected or abused). So all children in care have experienced trauma, and many have experienced complex trauma that can affect every aspect of their development. In addition, a substantial minority - probably at least one in four - live with permanent brain damage as a result of exposure to alcohol before birth.

For foster and adoptive parents, and those who provide residential child care, it is vital to understand the needs of children who have survived such experiences, as well as being able to offer the loving care and attention that all children need to thrive. Key knowledge areas include:

social work and family support

Vulnerable families live day by day with toxic levels of stress. Such stress affects how they can think and feel and behave. Those who work with vulnerable families live day by day with the impact of toxic stress on families - anger or withdrawal, resistance or denial, rage or helplessness.

When social workers understand the impact of toxic stress, they can work reflectively to promote positive dynamics within families, and positive engagement with support being offered. Trauma-informed services model supportive relational approaches throughout the system. Key knowledge areas include:

safeguarding and risk assessment

Resilience develops through meeting challenges, so children need challenges in order to develop to their full potential: a risk-averse society would be very lacking in resilience, and its children would be deprived of essential opportunities to grow and develop strength and skill. Yet children are also vulnerable and need to be protected from harm: a risk-blind society would be very dangerous for children.

It is vital that those who work with children and families become risk-competent, recognising hazards and taking action to manage risks effectively so that children can be both safe and resilient. Key knowledge areas include:

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