Institute for Social Sciences in the 21st Century (ISS21) - Journal articles

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    Reimagining care discourses through a feminist ethics of care: analysing Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality
    (Bristol University Press, 2022-12-16) Loughnane, Cliona; Edwards, Claire; Carolan Research Trust, Ireland
    The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the fore stark gendered care inequalities and the inadequacy of care provision across states. This article presents a feminist-ethics-of-care-informed discourse analysis of the representation of care that emerged at the Irish Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality – an innovative government-created citizen deliberation process. It identifies how care was represented as a ‘problem’ of both gender inequality and the market, and uncovers key silences, which ignored care as a universal need of all citizens and the significance of care networks to sustaining caring. We propose the necessity of ethics-of-care-based understandings to address post-pandemic care challenges.
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    After the reforms: An analysis of the factors associated with the use of legal services in child welfare proceedings in Ireland
    (IJMESS International Publishers, 2019) Walsh, Edel; Murphy, Aileen; Halton, Carmel; Harold, Gill; Irish Research Council
    Against the backdrop of austerity measures and public sector reforms in Ireland, this paper examined legal costs incurred in child welfare proceedings by the State Child and Family Agency - Tusla, using a need-based allocation model. The direct financial costs of engaging with legal services, necessitated by the adversarial nature of child welfare proceedings, were scrutinized to determine if resources were allocated based on need. Adopting a cross-sectional research design, secondary data (obtained from the organization’s financial billing system. n =1032) were employed in an econometric analysis examining the factors influencing variations in Tusla’s legal expenditure. The dependent variable was total amount billed by legal firm per observation and the independent variables included type of legal activity involved (a proxy for need), geographical location and type of legal personnel (supply factor). Type of legal personnel, volume and type of legal activity have significant positive effects on legal spend. Administrative area does not significantly affect spending on legal services. We found that engagement with legal services, demanded by the adversarial nature of child welfare proceedings, has considerable cost implications; however, does seem to be allocated on the basis of need. The findings can be employed to increase the organization’s awareness of costs.
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    Shifting sands: Actor role and identity reconfigurations in service systems
    (Elsevier Inc., 2021-08-20) Gummerus, Johanna; O'Loughlin, Deirdre; Kelleher, Carol; Peñaloza, Lisa; Irish Research Council
    Building on previous actor-to-actor perspectives in service systems, this study mapped the dialectic trajectory of actor role and identity transitions in the context of family caregiving. The study employed the theoretical lens of role and identity transitions and drew on in-depth, qualitative interviews with 22 unpaid family caregivers caring for dependent relatives to demonstrate how family caregiver roles and identities co-evolve throughout the caregiving journey. Our findings elucidate three dynamic reconfigurations of role and identity transitions in family caregiving. We evince how such transitions vary in both degree and type, and range from incremental to disruptive, as actors assume and detach from roles and associated identities. Theoretical contributions shed light on the emergent and nuanced nature of role and identity transitions, as roles and identities synchronously and asynchronously co-evolve in a service system in conjunction with changed relations between actors, society, and the service system. The paper concludes with implications for enhancing actor engagement in dynamic service systems.
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    The rights of the child in voluntary care in Ireland: a call for reform in law, policy and practice
    (Elsevier, 2021-03-15) Brennan, Rebekah; O'Mahony, Conor; Burns, Kenneth; Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Ireland; Cloyne Diocesan Youth Service, Ireland; University College Cork
    Voluntary care agreements form a significant part of child protection systems in many jurisdictions. From a children’s rights perspective, they enjoy numerous advantages over court-ordered removals of children. However, when loosely regulated, voluntary care agreements can give rise to significant concerns in respect of compliance with international children’s rights law. This paper will present findings from the Voluntary Care in Ireland Study, one of the first in-depth empirical examinations internationally of voluntary care agreements. It will present qualitative data on the system in operation in Ireland that indicates that voluntary care agreements are less adversarial, time-consuming and costly than court proceedings. This frees up resources for early intervention and facilitates a more collaborative relationship between parents and social services, making it more likely that children will remain at home or eventually return home from care. At the same time, the findings suggest that the voluntary care system currently operated in Ireland suffer from numerous flaws, including absence of independent oversight; unlimited duration; potential instability (since parents can withdraw consent at any time); weak mechanisms for child participation; and inferior resource allocation compared to court-ordered care placements. The paper examines legislative provisions from a number of comparable jurisdictions and makes recommendations designed to ensure that the voluntary care system in Ireland complies more strongly with principles of international children’s rights law.
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    ‘Private Family Arrangements’ for children in Ireland: The informal grey space in-between state care and the family home
    (Oxford University Press, 2021-02-22) Burns, Kenneth; O'Mahony, Conor; Brennan, Rebekah; Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Ireland; Cloyne Diocesan Youth Service, Ireland; University College Cork
    The literature on alternative care focuses overwhelmingly on formal, court-ordered placements; voluntary care placements are discussed less frequently. Least attention of all has been given to informal kinship care placements, where a child is cared for by relatives but is not formally in the legal care of state authorities. In Ireland, these placements, when facilitated by state authorities in lieu of a care order or voluntary care agreement, are known by professionals as ‘private family arrangements’. This article explores evidence which shows that the use of such arrangements is motivated partly by a concern for subsidiarity, and partly by necessity: they provide a source of placements in cases where regulatory requirements and a lack of resources would otherwise make the placement challenging or impossible. However, this strategy carries significant risks. Private family arrangements receive less support and oversight from state authorities than formal care placements, and family members providing care under this model have no legal rights or responsibilities in respect of the child(ren). This places the child(ren) in a precarious position and raises concerns regarding a lack of equity of care. The article will illustrate the impact of these concerns and make recommendations for reform.