Legal Advocacy for Parents in Child Protection: Not a Question of If, but a Question of How

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    Abstract

    This article examines the provision of legal advocacy for parents as a means to promote partnership working in child protection. It is situated in the context of formal decision-making committees in Israel and provides first indications of what happens when lawyers intervene on parents' behalf. Data were collected using an online survey sent to the chairs of these committees. Altogether, seventy-seven chairs around the country who had experienced at least one discussion in which parents had legal representation participated in the study. The analysis uncovered the broad range of functions performed by lawyers before, during and after the discussions, and the ways they influenced decision making. A surprising finding was the key role lawyers had in providing parents with emotional support. Generally, chairs voiced a positive attitude towards legal advocacy for parents, believing it both helpful and just. The study implications are discussed in terms of systemic working arrangements required for effective advocacy, including a coherent code of practice, well-defined preparation and professional training for all parties. Finally, methodological benchmarks for future research are presented.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1601-1618
    Number of pages18
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
    Volume49
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.

    Keywords

    • child protection
    • decision-making
    • legal advocacy
    • partnership
    • service users

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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