Brian Taylor is Professor of Social Work at Ulster University where he has lead role for social work research. He spent ten years in practice and management, and fifteen years in professional training and organisation development before moving to the University. This included three years as Project Manager for the implementation of the Children (NI) Order 1995 in the Northern Health and Services Board area. He was a member of the Cross-Border Child Protection Research and Knowledge Transfer Sub Committee of the North-South Ministerial Council for the island of Ireland. Brian leads the University social work research cluster on Decision, Assessment, Risk and Evidence Studies, and this is now the primary focus of his research and teaching. He is the founder-convenor of the Decisions, Assessment and Risk Special Interest Group of the European Social Work Research Association. Brian has published widely on these topics, including a post-qualifying text book on Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work now in its third edition.
There are increasing pressures on social workers to address the possibly of harm to families in the future, not to consider only the presenting needs today. There are also increasing demands to make our practice more ‘evidence-based’ and to be able to justify our decision making. Our assessment tools and processes must now take account of both assessment of risk and support for decision making, as well as other aspects of practice (such as strengths and community context) and service management (such as prioritisation of services across client need). This presentation will consider child welfare assessment in relation to:
• using the best knowledge available to inform practice;
• the potential and pitfalls predicting harm;
• assessment as supporting professional judgement; and
• organisations supporting staff in managing risks and decisions.
The presentation will draw on recent research in Ireland and internationally, including initiatives to begin to use ‘big data’ in social work as a tool to identify and measure risk factors.