Applied Social Studies - Journal Articles

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    Developing a theoretical framework for exploring the institutional responses to the Athena SWAN Charter in higher education institutions - a feminist institutionalist perspective
    (Sage, 2021) O'Mullane, Monica; Horizon 2020
    Why does the institutional response of higher education institutions to a ‘potentially institutionally transformative’ gender equality programme such as the Athena SWAN (AS) Charter matter? If a higher education institution seeks and attains the AS award, then the institutional response would be to embed the Charter’s action plans thoroughly without resistance or variation across higher education institutional contexts? These are the initial and broader reflective questions underpinning and inspiring this article. The reality is that the Athena SWAN Charter actions and commitments are not simply installed into the technical rules and procedures of higher education institutions, resulting in the organisational and cultural change it seeks. It is argued in this article that applying a feminist institutionalist lens, which deals with the exchange between formal and informal rules, norms and practices, and the roles played by actors working with the rules – the micro-foundations of gendered institutions – will inform our understanding of how a change programme such as Athena SWAN can instil institutional change- if any change. This article details a theoretical framework, drawing from the FI perspective, which will be applied to an empirical study exploring the institutional responses of higher education institutions to the Athena SWAN process in Ireland
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    What do the narratives tell us? Exploring the implementation of the Athena SWAN Ireland Charter
    (Frontiers Media, 2022) O'Mullane, Monica; Horizon 2020
    Due to the systemic inequalities enduring in career progression pathways in the Irish higher education sector, the Athena SWAN Ireland Charter (ASIC), a gender equality accreditation program, is being implemented. Using a theoretical approach, blending insights from feminist institutionalism with literature on the role of narratives in policy implementation, this article reveals the complex nature of subjective engagement with policy implementation processes. This article discusses an empirical study of Athena SWAN Ireland Charter implementation across three purposively chosen Irish universities, interviewing 26 key institutional actors tasked with implementing the ASIC locally. Narrative themes emerging as dominant from the data include a lack of operational knowledge, desire for a nationally contextualized program, ambiguity, championing, "happy talk," and identifying points of resistance. Literature on the role of narrative accounts highlighting a diversity of perceptions in policy and program implementation is strengthened by this study's findings. A feminist institutionalist lens highlight the gendered nature of the operationalization of the Charter work and the vague and detached "happy talk" engaged predominantly by senior men leaders. Findings from this empirical study highlight the importance of exploring the narrative accounts of key actors in order to gain a holistic understanding of the nuanced implementation process, beyond the normative assumptions inherent in the Charter implementation.
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    Development of a psychoeducational foster carer program using the Medical Research Council (MRC) Framework for Complex Intervention
    (Routledge - Taylor & Francis Group, 2022-09-27) Lotty, Maria; Bantry-White, Eleanor; Dunn-Galvin, Audrey; University College Cork; Tusla
    Foster carers require high quality evidence-based psychoeducational programs to support them in the care of children with complex trauma-related difficulties. However, there is a lack of systematic development of such programs which may explain mixed results. This paper presents a detailed account of the development of a complex intervention. This program was developed to address a practice gap of evidenced-based foster care programs in the Irish context. It aims to improve foster carers' capacity to provide children with trauma-informed care and in turn improve emotional and behavioural difficulties. The framework of the Medical Research Council (MRC) for the development and evaluation of complex interventions was used to develop Fostering Connections: The Trauma-informed Foster Care Programme. A prior narrative review of the evidence base of similar programs was combined with a prior qualitative study. A Stakeholder Group provided expert feedback during the development process. The development of a promising psychoeducational programs for foster carers using the MRC framework is described.
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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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    Infant mental health training for early years practitioners
    (Taylor & Francis, 2022-06-16) Martin, Shirley; O'Hara, Louise; Curtin, Margaret; Dennehy, Janet
    Children will be able to truly thrive in school and life if their mental well-being is supported, beginning in their early years. Amid growing international awareness about the importance of building the competency of those working with young children and their families, a particular concern focuses on increasing understanding of infant mental health. This article outlines the development and evaluation of a pilot infant mental health (IMH) training program for early years practitioners in Ireland. The program was developed by the Lets Grow Together! Infant and Childhood Partnerships in Cork, Ireland. The project translates and makes accessible IMH and early childhood development science and applies it to a format that will build capacity in the everyday practice of early years practitioners working in an area of high socio-economic deprivation. The training model is guided by the Irish Association for Infant Mental Health (I-AIMH) Competency Framework.®