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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 2011): Social care - overseas

Guided or independent? Social workers, central bureaucracy and evidence-based practice

A. Bergmark and T. Lundström

European Journal of Social Work, vol. 14, 2011, p. 323-337

In Sweden, the issue of how to improve the empirical base for social work practice has been on the political agenda and has infused professional debate since the early 1990s. The Sweden government initiated a variety of activities designed to stimulate evaluations in the field and to produce practice guidelines for social workers. The notion of evidence-based practice (EBP) has permeated these efforts. The introduction of EBP in Sweden has thus been a top-down process driven by bureaucrats at the central state level. This research analyses the degree to which social workers within the personal social services follow research and how they conceive the character, legitimacy, aims and direction of the EBP project. The survey results indicate a generally positive attitude among Swedish social workers towards EBP, but at the same time they show a low level of active contact with the research literature.

Mandatory reporting of domestic violence cases in Cyprus: barriers to the effectiveness of mandatory reporting and issues for future practice

C. Panayiotopoulos

European Journal of Social Work, vol. 14, 2011, p. 379-402

Following increasing concern about unreported cases of domestic violence and child abuse at the end of the 1990s in Cyprus, all agencies involved adopted a mandatory system of reporting incidents directly to the Attorney General's Office in 1998. Seven years later there were no signs of significant changes to practice. This article describes an evaluation of the mandatory reporting system which aimed to gather professionals' views about it and to identify obstacles to its effective implementation. Services which used the mandatory reporting system pointed out gaps in the policy, poor planning on the part of the Attorney General's Office and lack of communication and coordination between agencies involved.

The myth of evidence-based practice: towards evidence-informed practice

I. Nevo and V. Slonim-Nevo

British Journal of Social Work, vol.41, 2011, p. 1176-1197

This paper analyses the five steps of the evidence-based practice model and shows that it has serious limitations, both theoretical and practical. It argues that the relationship between evidence and practice cannot be that of supplying a basis, at least not if that notion is understood in any strict logical or methodological sense. Other factors have to be taken into account in addition to the evidence and their relation to the evidence has to be explained. The authors advocate a more comprehensive view of practice as informed by evidence and theory. Evidence-informed practice should leave ample room for clinical experience as well as the imaginative judgements of practitioners and clients who are in constant dialogue with each other.

Rethinking care in a development context

S. Razavi

Development and Change, vol.42, 2011, p. 873-1130

Systems for the provision of unpaid care are coming under strain in the developing as well as the developed world due to the impact of migration, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the entry of women into paid work, and the rising prevalence of households with young children headed by women who have to manage both income earning and caregiving. In this context care is emerging as a legitimate subject of public policy debate among aid agencies, international organisations, governments and civil society. An increasing number of governments are experimenting with new ways of responding to care needs in their societies, although these have been insufficiently recognised and analysed. The articles in this special issue attempt to fill the gap through an assessment of care systems and public policy responses in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

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