Stabler, Lorna, David Wilkins, & Hester Carro (2020, February). What do children think about their social worker? A Q‐method study of children’s services. Child & Family Social Work, 25(1), 118-126. (doi: 10.1111/cfs.12665) (Link:

Abstract: Understanding how children experience social work interventions is an important part of gauging whether what is provided is genuinely helpful. In this paper, we describe the findings from a research project using Q‐method, aimed at understanding what children involved with statutory services think about their social workers and how they experience the time they spend together. Using a pre‐existing practice framework, we explored skills including empathy, collaboration, and purposefulness from the point of view of children and young people. The participants in our study (n = 22) were insightful observers of social work practice, able to describe not only how they experienced time spent with their workers but also inferring differences in motivation and approach. In addition, workers who were described in similar terms by different young people were nevertheless experienced differently. This suggests not an archetypal “good social worker”—instead, there are skills that are good for specific children at specific times within the context of specific relationships.

Lorna Stabler <> is in CASCADE: Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

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