From the Poor law to New Labour
: a comparative analysis of interventions to support families

  • Howell Edwards

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The thesis explores the changing role that family support and social casework have played since the time of the Poor Law, and places these changes within the wider child care policy context. It highlights the importance of the Children Act 1989 to the recent development of support services for families. It argues that placing family support services within a framework ensures that services are developed to meet identified needs, and assists in mapping and evaluating those services. The thesis contends that it is vital for families to receive structured support since poverty has such a destructive impact on children and family life. The community development dimension of family support is seen as being important particularly in respect of open access support, as are the participation and empowerment of users. Listening to and acknowledging the rights of children are identified as key challenges for the future. The thesis reviews the evidence for the effectiveness of family support and social casework . It explores methodologies adopted in evaluating such services. The thesis reviews the process of establishing a community-based children resource centre in an economically and socially deprived community. Adopting a case study approach in order to evaluate the impact this initiative had on the local community. This case study highlights a series of key issues such as funding, political support, and involvement of the community and statutory agencies. The need to provide evidence to show the effectiveness of support services leads one to consider the relevant issues and difficulties, including an argument for considering randomised control trials, and more longitudinal research studies. An evaluation of the Resource Centre is considered. The thesis concludes that community based, open-access services are highly valued by users and provide an important support to families under stress, that social casework must play a key role in assessing need and in maximising access to family support provision, and that in order to be effective, preventive and family support services need to be developed within a local multi-agency strategic framework,
    Date of AwardMar 2004
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Adamson (Supervisor)


    • Public welfare
    • Great Britain
    • Poor

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