Social workers' preparation for child protection: Revisiting the question of specialisation

Karen Healy*, Gabrielle Meagher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Child welfare work is a key field of practice for social work graduates and for graduates of a growing range of disciplines. In the present paper, the authors drew on a survey of 208 child welfare workers and interviews with 28 senior personnel in child and family welfare agencies to analyse perceptions of the educational preparation of social workers and other human science graduates for this field of practice. The findings indicated that child welfare workers and employers are ambivalent about the value of social work and other generic social science and human services programmes as preparation for tertiary or statutory child protection practice, which involves investigation, assessment, and intervention in child abuse and neglect. The authors argue that the social work profession must better balance generic and specialist aspects to prepare graduates for practice in specialist fields of high social work involvement, particularly in tertiary child protection work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-335
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007
Externally publishedYes


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