2 Society’s influence
Social work practice does not exist in a vacuum – it is influenced and informed by wider social, political, economic and intellectual trends. It is important to have an awareness of historical trends and how they inform current social work practice. Examining the ways in which attitudes toward children change and how these changes come to be reflected (or not) in legislation and public policy is a part of that understanding.
Legislation relating to children and families arose from a social and political climate that considered it appropriate for the state to intervene in family life and prevent the necessity for public care. This climate also envisaged a capacity for the state to provide alternative parenting, where necessary: for example, residential care was seen as a primary service for children in need.