Promoting holistic evidence-based approaches
My writing in the sexual abuse field has been used across the spectrum: influencing frontline assessment practice, the development and refinement of child protection procedures, and influencing the government review of sexual abuse legislation. I have been invited to author articles, books and chapters with many people from overseas and I have edited a number of multi-contributor books reflecting the need for a global approach to many of the problems we are now facing.
I have developed a series of conceptual models to encourage localities to respond in detail to the outline provided for them in government legislation and guidance. I have led the implementation of the assessment framework in one authority and consulted to several others. I am currently addressing the challenges of the packed change agenda facing social care by trying to provide clear pathways for workers, agencies and inter-agency groups and bodies, contributing to and editing a book on the subject as well as several journal articles and conference presentations.
I have developed early help assessment frameworks and practice guidance for several authorities; with Rikki Sneddon and Moira McKinnon successfully co-authored a risk assessment toolkit for the Scottish Executive; and refined and extended this to rebalance the mix of risks and strengths to sit with the restorative and strengths-loaded agenda. I have developed indicators to guide practice in the areas of risks, strengths, resilience and resistance and now embraced issues beyond the front door to looked-after, permanency and reunification. Trauma and attachment theory are the foundations of all the work.
I have conducted research (with Jan Horwath) into the emergence and operation of core groups in the UK. These findings have been disseminated widely through journal articles, books and conference presentations. The findings have influenced more detailed central government guidance and have been formally referenced to reflect this.
I am currently a book reviewer for several journals and book companies, an Associate Editor for the Journal of Sexual Aggression (in the UK); an invited reviewer for International Journal of Behavioural Consultation and Therapy (IJBCT) (in the USA). My drive is to integrate the best of theory, research and practice to influence better outcomes for the children we seek to serve.
I have specialised operationally in the child protection field for the last 35 years and this depth of knowledge is useful when looking at what options exist to tackle current issues by importing ideas from elsewhere. Having assumed responsibility for domestic violence service provision in addition to child protection, the links between child protection and domestic violence has huge cross-fertilisation potential and has already led to articles, books and conference presentations on the overlap. I am regularly commissioned to examine options for developing child care pathways for children living with domestic violence.
I have developed training courses on toxic trio and extended this to embrace many other co-existing parental problems and tried to examine what knowledge and evidence is needed by frontline staff to ensure the complexity of the issues is understood and linked to how we assess the child’s lived experience.
My operational experience includes leading on the investigation of allegations against staff working with children; providing expert reviews of practice; research and evaluation; devising detailed procedures and practice guidance; as well as more general service development and consultancy work at service and case level to all the constituent agencies within the child care field. I am also experienced at inter-agency forums such as LSCB and Domestic Violence Strategy Groups and in preparing briefings for Cabinet.
I have considerable experience in developing and delivering training at all levels from introductory to advanced, on a single-agency and multi-agency basis. I have also delivered lectures to the Child Care Award students at the Universities of Salford and Durham and acted as module leader for one around assessment and intervention.
I maintain my practice skills through consulting to several therapeutic projects for children who have experienced sexual abuse in their families, and projects working with young people who exhibit sexually harmful and violent behaviour. I also provide supervision to staff delivering such services as well as providing case consultation and reflective opportunities to maximise personal developmental opportunities .