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March 2005Vol. 6, No. 2Legal Issues and Child Welfare Practice

In an unconventional critique of the child welfare system, titled Child Welfare in the Legal Setting, author T. M. O'Brien offers a critical and interpretive study of the legal system surrounding child welfare workers. The book explores issues of importance to child welfare advocates, including:

  • The legal system as host setting
  • The industrialization of child welfare
  • Mandatory reporting requirements
  • Priorities in a system in which unsubstantiated cases account for the majority of total referrals
  • The increasing trend toward specialization

It is suggested that the social work role in child welfare is limited by its placement in the host setting of the legal system. This setting results in tensions and inherent conflicts that make enormous demands on child welfare workers and families. This depiction provides a creative framework for the discussion of the similarities and differences between the clinical and legal models of intervention.

The book is designed to serve as a supplementary text in college or university classes or as a general work for the education of social workers in training centers. Child Welfare in the Legal Setting: A Critical and Interpretive Perspective is published by the Haworth Press, Inc.

Related Item

A new book by legal trainer J. L. Renne, Legal Ethics in Child Welfare Cases, explores everyday ethical dilemmas in child welfare. Guidance is provided on what to do in these difficult situations, using the applicable rules of the newly amended American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The book was published by the ABA Center on Children and the Law, National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues, a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau.