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Getting the Balance Right: Using the Assessment Framework to safeguard children and support families from minority ethnic communities Anna Gupta Department.

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Presentation on theme: "Getting the Balance Right: Using the Assessment Framework to safeguard children and support families from minority ethnic communities Anna Gupta Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 Getting the Balance Right: Using the Assessment Framework to safeguard children and support families from minority ethnic communities Anna Gupta Department of Social Work

2 AIM OF WORKSHOP To share research and practice findings from social work assessments of children and families from minority ethnic backgrounds in the UK, including refugee children To discuss the relevance of these for work using the ICS Framework in Denmark

3 The UK CONTEXT : TERMINOLOGY– Black and minority ethnic (BME) children and families History of post-war migration - In the past particularly referring to African-Caribbean, South Asian, African and mixed-parentage people who suffer racism because of their skin colour. More recently includes people from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and travellers. People who are both visibly different and those whose culture and/or religion differs from the majority white population.

4 The UK/Danish contexts – A few similarities and differences Both EU and Council of Europe countries – signatories to international Conventions – UNCRC & ECHR – but different domestic policy and legislation Both majority white Christian populations with between 13% (UK) and 7% (Danish) – non-White / non- Western backgrounds (Integration/assimilation vs multiculturalism debate) UK much larger population with some areas (in London and other large cities) having high proportions of minority ethnic families, with other areas very small numbers Both countries also grappling with the challenges of supporting families and protecting children at risk of harm, and managing immigration and asylum systems – influence of political ideology.

5 Some Key Issues in the UK Black and minority ethnic popultations Complexity/ Diversity: –Different ethnic groups / cultures –Different religions –Different languages –Long resident in Europe/ newly arrived –Well-off/ vulnerable through poverty –Class/caste differences –Urban/ rural (past & present) –Age and gender –Asylum/Immigration status Experience other forms of oppression and discrimination, e.g. class, gender, sexuality and disability etc. Help understand the experiences of other minority groups in Britain who experience marginalisation and oppression.

6 Disproportionality in Child Welfare (Owen & Statham, 2009) WhiteMixedAsianBlack Children in Need Census As expected OverUnderA lot over Child Protection As expected OverA lot under As expected Children in care As expected A lot overUnderA lot over

7 Some Crucial themes (1) the different needs and family circumstances of Black and other minority children and their families ( e.g. poverty, immigration, support services) (2) specific parenting practices and care giving environments (e.g. Collectivism; Izzat) (3) The interplay between race and culture in the assessment and decision-making processes.

8 THE DIMENSIONS OF THE ICS TRIANGLE - The Child’s Developmental needs Some examples of different needs/circumstances: –Health: poverty and ill-health, impact of trauma – country of origin and journey (refugees), diseases more common (sickle cell/ brittle bone) –School matters and learning: Language and education history, integration and support, racism in educational system –Development and behaviour Emotional and behavioural development – attachment separation through immigration/ asylum, on-going insecurity, loss and fear (refugee children) Identity – impact of racism and ‘minoritization’ – sense of belonging Social appearance - different from majority Independence – different family and cultural values, fear of racism –Family – family relationships: loss and separation – meaning of child & family tracing/ durable solutions for separated children seeking asylum

9 Particular challenges for unaccompanied and separated children seeking asylum They will have experienced major trauma, disruption and loss – in country of origin and/or journey to Europe They may face hostility or discrimination in host country on the basis of nationality, status, religion, culture or language They face an uncertain present and future They may face complex issues about the development of their distinct identity, including relationship with family and reason for journey. They are a particularly vulnerable group and may have been or be at risk of being trafficked Issues of trust with professionals, particularly in the context of the immigration system

10 THE DIMENSIONS OF THE ICS TRIANGLE – Parenting skills Some different child-rearing practices: –Sleeping arrangements/ bedtimes –Ways of disciplining children A majority of UK parents use physical punishment, and Barn et al’s (2006) study on normative parenting found the minority ethnic families were no more likely to use punitive discipline methods than other parents. However there may be issues around different approaches to physical chastisement and approaches to child supervision and responsibility that draw some minority ethnic families into the formal CP systems. –Demonstration of affection/ emotional warmth –Perspectives on independence, including gender issues The importance of differentiating between ‘normal’ but different child-rearing practices and deviant or idiosyncratic behaviours that transgress acceptable norms and values in any community.

11 Some particular forms of abuse that can be linked to culture/ religion Forced marriage FGM (Female genital mutilation/ female circumcision) Belief in spiritual possession Culture can explain the context in which abuse takes place, it can explain the values, beliefs or attitudes of a parent at the time when an abusive incident took place, but it cannot provide an explanation for the parent’s actions in response to those values, beliefs or attitudes… why many from the same culture do not act in that way (Dutt & Phillips, 2000 – AF Practice Guidance)

12 CULTURE All people have cultural identities; Culture is dynamic, not monolithic – influence of context – class, immigration, education, choice etc…..; Culture is acquired through live experiences; Culture is not static, but changes and develops over time; There are differences within and between families who have the same cultural background; Views of black and minority ethnic cultures are influenced by racial and cultural stereotyping and ‘othering’. (see youtube video - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story)Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story

13 THE DIMENSIONS OF THE ICS TRIANGLE – Family conditions – family and surroundings Family history and functioning – history of migration and separation, strengths and resilience in face of adversity Extended family and others in family network – different family structures, collectivist traditions – interdependence, connectedness are valued rather than Western values of autonomy and independence. Housing & Employment – impact of immigration laws and entitlements, opportunities for education and employment Finances – poverty disproportionate amongst some communities, relationships with families ‘back home’ The family’s relationships to broader community –Social integration of the family – demography of local community, impact of racism/ hostility –Local community resources – community, religious resources, links to wider communities

14 Culturagram – A tool for assessing families (Congress, 2009 – see podcasts/thesocialwork/947214) Family/ individual members Reasons for relocation Legal status Time in community Language at home and in community Health beliefs Impact of trauma and crisis events Contact with cultural and religious institutions Oppression and discrimination Values about education and work Values about family

15 Practitioners have to find out what the child care beliefs, practices, past and present experiences and circumstances are for ‘this child and in this family’ Whilst there is a need to explore the cultural context of children and families’ experiences, there is also the need to be alert to the often subtle and unintended influences of racism and ethnocentrism, which can lead to interventions that fail to safeguard and promote the welfare of BME children.

16 Some Common Dynamics Stereotyping-Objectification Cultural Relativism Colour/culture-blindness Cultural deficit / Pathologising Fear of being accused of being racist Inadequate translation and interpretation services

17 Black children and their families ‘may, due to a number of factors, be more or less likely to be subjected to child abuse investigations by social work agencies and allied professionals’ (Chand, 2000) In situations in which there is a risk of abuse or neglect of minority ethnic children, the literature suggests that fear of difference, combined with racist stereotypes, may both exacerbate defensive practice, leading to a more coercive approach being taken than is necessary, or may conversely lead to avoidance that can leave children unprotected. On the one hand, a pathologizing approach to black families may lead to unnecessarily coercive intervention and, on the other hand, a cultural relativist approach may lead to non-intervention when services are required.

18 Victoria Climbie Not spoken to in language she was fluent by the social worker or police Injuries misdiagnosed as scabies –Doctors – marks on her body were noticed but dismissed because ‘children grown up in Africa are more likely to have marks such as scabies’ Stereotypes about West African families –SW – ‘standing to attention’ is part of respect and obedience shown in African families Seen as transient Black child with little value in system –Contradictory requirements to exclude those w/o entitlement to live in the UK and safeguard and promote the welfare of all children Power imbalances in professional network –Childminders concerned not heeded once Dr felt injuries non- accidental (scabies) Fear of being seen as racist

19 The influence of values and assumptions What values/ assumptions underpin the following statement in an assessment of a father in care proceedings?: ‘Mr Frank’s identity is solely self-reported. He has no evidence to confirm who he is or where he is from. He has no passport or birth certificate. He said he did not attend school in the UK. He stated that he was brought to the UK from the Ivory Coast when he was 12 years old by a non-blood aunt; a family friend but he has no information of the whereabouts of this person or no one who will confirm who she was/is. Not being able to verify who Mr Frank is and also to doubt his ability to be open and honest makes it impossible to complete a sound risk assessment.’ How might this be approached differently?

20 Some suggestions for practice Challenging own and others’ assumptions and stereotypes, and critically reflecting on how these affect one’s practice. Improving issues around communication with families, and developing strategies at all levels for better policy and practice. Acknowledging difference in child-rearing practices, but maintaining an understanding of children’s developmental needs and rights. Undertaking holistic, ecological assessments, which aim to understand the complexities of children and families’ lives. Striving to promote resilience in children, whilst minimising vulnerabilities. Recognise strengths and coping strategies, without minimising risks. Provision of specialist and outreach services in partnership with local community groups.

21 Some useful references Barn, R., Ladino, C. and Rogers, B. (2006) Parenting in Multi-Racial Britain, London, National Children’s Bureau. Bernard, C. & Gupta, A. (2008) ‘Black African Children and the Child Protection System’, British Journal of Social Work, 38, pp Dutt, R. (2010) ‘Assessing the needs of Black and Minority Ethnic Children and Families’. In J. Horwarth (ed.) The Child’s World (2 nd Ed), London:JKP Chand, A. (2000) ‘The over-representation of black children in the child protection system: Possible causes, consequences and solutions’, Child and Family Social Work, 5(1), pp. 67–77. Gladwell, C. & Elwyn, E. (2012) Broken Futures: Young Afghan asylum seekers in the UK and in their country of origin. Geneva:UNHCR Kohli, R. K. S. (2006). ‘The comfort of strangers: social work practice with unaccompanied asylum ‐ seeking children and young people in the UK.’ Child & Family Social Work 11(1): Thoburn, J., Chand, A. and Procter, J. (2005) Child Welfare Services for Minority Ethnic Families, London, Jessica Kingsley.


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