Oxford University research findings explode myths about Independent Social Work expertise
Groundbreaking research from Oxford University challenges concerns about duplication and delay through the use of independent social work (ISW) assessments in Family Court proceedings. On the contrary, the report argues that delays might be reduced by the earlier appointment of ISW experts.
The Oxford study examined independent social work expert reports and found that they added considerable value in cases of high complexity.
Reports provided transparent, forensic, evidence-based assessments which gave clarity around complex issues, supporting better welfare decision-making for children and families within Family Courts.
Indeed in the light of the proposed six month target for completion of cases, the research suggests that without access to ISW experts, courts may be severely hampered in attempts to speed up proceedings.
The researchers argue that results to date challenge critical views about ISWs and the work that they do. They indicate that ISWs could make an important contribution to the success of the family justice modernisation programme.
Its findings were made public at a meeting in central London on 19 April 2012 to an audience of judges, civil servants, lawyers, academics, ISWs, Children's Guardians and voluntary organisations.
The research came from a joint initiative between Nagalro, BASW and CISWA-UK, concerned about the lack of an evidence base for current policy towards independent social work expertise. It was commissioned by CISWA-UK and is the first stage of what is hoped will be a two-stage project.
Executive Summary (6 pages)
Full research report (75 pages)