Social Work Law

Law for Social Work, Ethical Dilemmas and Decision Making

The Abraham Family Genogram

Fig. 1

Throughout Social Work’s history to date, it is evident that the relationship between law and Social Work has become more relevant for those currently in practice alongside those that Social Work aims to assist and support. Johns (2003) has argued that without ‘in-depth’ knowledge of the law, it is impossible to practice effectively. The law that applies to Social Work is an ever evolving area, often revised and implemented in response to the misfortune of those whom the system has failed to protect. Many lessons have been learnt from these past mistakes, such as the tragedy of Victoria Climbié, from which the report produced by the Lord Laming Inquiry (2003) highlighted the many areas where Social Work needed increased improvement and regulation due to Lord Laming’s findings that ‘basic good practice’ (para. 1.17) was all that had been needed to protect Victoria from her horrific death. Although Lord Laming’s report found that the legal framework for child protection was ‘fundamentally sound’, it drew attention to the gaps that were evident in its implementation (Brammer, 2007). Following this, we have seen a revision of the Children Act 1989, with an additional Children Act taking effect 2004, and the creation and implementation of the ‘Every Child Matters’ (2003) document with its ethos based around five key areas;
• Be healthy
• Stay safe
• Enjoy and achieve
• Make a positive contribution
• Achieve economic well-being
intended to be followed by all those working with children today.

We now know that greater consideration is required when trying to anticipate the impact we have when carrying out Social Work duties and responsibilities. For example, when investigating a potential child protection case, we now have a duty to evaluate all the available information, conducting an in-depth assessment, set against the Common Assessment Framework...