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Keywords:

  • community;
  • safeguarding;
  • ecological

Abstract

Historically, children's safeguarding policy and practice in the UK have focused on individual and family-level explanations of abuse and neglect, with relatively little attention given to children's overall well-being or the role played by neighbourhood conditions in shaping it. As a result, community-oriented practice, designed to improve the neighbourhood conditions in which many of the families who come to the attention of child welfare agencies live, has largely remained on the margins of mainstream provision for safeguarding children and young people.

However, more recent policy developments, including Every Child Matters and the Children's Plan, do highlight the influence of children's wider circumstances on their well-being, providing the foundations for more holistic approaches to service provision. Nevertheless, it is argued that these policy developments are unlikely to be successful unless they are accompanied by fundamental changes within the culture of many agencies and professions. Using a combination of ecological theory and practice examples, some of the main strands of the changes required (developing a culture of listening to children and adults; recognising and supporting the safeguarding activities of local people; and promoting partnership approaches to extending local provision) are critically examined. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.