Skip to main content

Unit information: Contemporary Law and Policy for Child Welfare Services in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Contemporary Law and Policy for Child Welfare Services
Unit code SPOLM0020
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Dugdale
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit provides an opportunity for students to update and extend their knowledge of law and policy as they relate to social work with children and families. The unit aims to:

  • Provide a critical overview of developments in law relating to child welfare, including reference to youth justice and the legal framework addressing asylum seeking and young people who are refugees and other groups of children who may come into contact with social services.
  • Critically examine the policy context for current practice with children, young people and families
  • Enhance and extend students’ theoretical understanding of key current issues affecting child welfare, for example the impact of poverty and social exclusion
  • Explore the application of human rights provisions in complex situations that arise in children and families social work

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students should be able to:

  • Understand, critically analyse and apply current legal provisions in relation to child care and child welfare
  • Demonstrate critical appreciation of the legal context affecting the different groups of children or young people who may come into contact with social work services.
  • Interpret and use legislation and guidance to protect and/or advance people’s rights and entitlements
  • Critically appraise and choose from available options in complex legal situations and promote best practice in supporting human and civil rights
  • Demonstrate critical understanding and application of core social work values, including anti-oppressive practice, child centred practice and service user perspectives

Teaching details

Teaching will take place in 1.5 hour sessions, normally over a 3 day block with a further re-call day. The unit will combine lectures, seminar discussion and practical exercises.

Assessment Details

3500 – 4000 word written assignment, critically analysing a complex scenario involving the application of detailed legal provisions.

Reading and References

Brammer, A. (2010) Social Work Law. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Ltd. 3rd Edition

Davis, L. (2009) The Social Worker's Guide to Children and Families Law. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Dickens, J. (2012) Social Work, Law and Ethics. London and New York: Routledge.

Frost, N. and Parton, N. (2009) Understanding Children’s Social Care: Politics, Policy and Practice. London: Sage.

Herring, J., Probert, R. & Gilmore, S. (2012) Great Debates: Family Law. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Pearce, J. & Masson, J. with Bader, K (2011). Just following instructions? The representation of parents in care proceedings. The School of Law, University of Bristol.