Institute for Social Sciences in the 21st Century (ISS21) - Journal articles
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- ItemAfter 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 CouncilAgainst 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.
- ItemShifting 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 CouncilBuilding 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.
- ItemThe 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 CorkVoluntary 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.
- Item‘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 CorkThe 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.
- ItemFindings from a longitudinal qualitative study of child protection social workers' retention: Job embeddedness, professional confidence and staying narratives(Oxford University Press, 2019-06-25) Burns, Kenneth; Christie, Alastair; O'Sullivan, Siobhan; Department of Children and Youth Affairs, IrelandThe retention of social workers in child protection and welfare is an ongoing concern in many countries. While our knowledge based on the turnover of child protection and welfare social workers is growing, much less is known about ‘stayers’—those who undertake this work for over 10+ years. This article draws on the data gathered over a decade in Ireland on these social workers. The article addresses three questions: (i) What can we learn from social workers with 10+ years’ experience of child protection and welfare about their retention? (ii) Does job embeddedness theory help explain their choices to stay? (iii) Does the ‘career preference typology’ (Burns, 2011. British Journal of Social Work, 41(3), pp. 520–38) helps to explain social workers’ retention? The main findings are that if you can retain social workers beyond the 5-year point, their retention narrative intensifies, their embeddedness in the organisation and community strengthens and they have a stronger sense of professional confidence as they move out of the early professional stage. A surprising finding of this study was that nearly all of the social workers in this study had a staying narrative that changed little between their interviews a decade apart.
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