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Is the Third Way the Best Way?: Social Work Intervention with Children and Families

Miller, Chris; Leigh, Sarah


Chris Miller


•Summary: This article is based on a piece of qualitative research with service users in England who asked for help and advice from a statutory locality childcare service. It is located in the framework of the modernization agenda, focusing on the value placed upon service user feedback, social exclusion and the quality targets for local authorities. The research aimed to examine service users’views on their experience of the service they obtained. It also focuses on those areas of social work that have always been hard to measure, such as the effect of the person in the professional role, their warmth, empathy, ability to understand and engage with others. •Findings: The research draws conclusions for practice. Service users want social workers to be clear about their role, to listen and to attempt to gain an understanding of their world. A social worker who has time to go ‘that extra mile’appears to be able to help people when they are in a crisis with their children. Service users interviewed were very forthright about wanting to use talking cures; they wanted advice but did not necessarily expect solutions. Some demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the very tricky line walked between the person and the professional. •Applications: When social workers are under increasing pressure to evidence quality in their work, it appears that the social work relationship could be the sacrificial lamb within the modernization agenda for childcare. © 2004, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.


Miller, C., & Leigh, S. (2004). Is the Third Way the Best Way?: Social Work Intervention with Children and Families. Journal of Social Work, 4(3), 245-267.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2004
Journal Journal of Social Work
Print ISSN 1468-0173
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 3
Pages 245-267
Keywords children and families, good practice, modernization agenda service users, social work relationship
Public URL
Publisher URL