New paper published in Qualitative Social Work – grandparents’ experiences of engaging with children’s services

I am pleased to announce a new publication that is now available in the Qualitative Social Work journal. In the paper ‘”You try to keep a brave face on it but inside you are in bits”: Grandparent experiences of engaging with professionals in Children’s Services’ my colleagues Brid Featherstone, Lindsay O’Dell, Claire Fraser and I, present analysis from an evaluation we were involved in in 2012 that evaluated the Advice and Advocacy Line run by the Family Rights Group. We spoke to several grandparents during this evaluation, who were raising concerns about their engagements with children’s services. They raised particular concerns in cases where they were either seeking to become kinship carers or already were but were uncertain of their rights. The paper is an analysis of the grandparents’ stories only, something we identify as a limitation, and we ask that the paper be read with recognition of the challenging contexts in which social workers are currently operating. However, we hope that the paper sheds some light on this under-researched and often invisible form of care by grandparents.

The abstract to the paper is written below for a flavour but if you would like to receive a copy please either visit the journal website, or get in touch via my contact form or email address a.tarrant [@] and I’d be happy to supply a copy.

“You try to keep a brave face on it but inside you are in bits”: Grandparent experiences of engaging with professionals in Children’s Services


This article presents findings from an evaluation conducted in 2012, of the advice and advocacy service provided by the charity Family Rights Group for families involved with children’s services. It specifically focuses on the experiences of grandparents and explores accounts from grandparents who were either in the process of seeking care of their grandchildren or were already caring for grandchildren but without formal support or recognition. The findings suggest that there is a need to pay greater atten- tion to the fears of such grandparents about children’s services in a context where there appears to be a policy preference for adoption. Also evident is a paradox at the heart of contemporary social work practices towards grandparents. While some felt dismissed and marginalized very quickly by social workers and imaginative approaches to care possibilities did not appear to be pursued, others were carrying enormous burdens of care often for very long periods of time without either financial support or legal recognition.


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