Evaluate critically the contention that “early intervention works,” and consider the implication for social work with children and families.
Early intervention is important to social workers in that it is seen as an activity directed at preventing children and young people who are at the most risk from developing social, physical or psychological problems. Article 19 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989) states that, children should not be exposed to maltreatment. The article also states that, governments have the responsibility to identify and protect its children from all forms of maltreatment.
For the purpose of this assignment, this writer will look at the contention that “early intervention works”. This writer will explore early intervention schemes such as Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) and its implications for social work with children and families.
Early intervention cements the theory that prevention is better than cure and that early intervention is vital to human growth and development. Howe (2005) also shares the same sentiments, he argues that it is easier to correct a child developmental problems during pregnancy and post-natal than in later years. Howe (2005) also states that early intervention is regarded as an important tool to use when tackling attachment problems between an infant and its parents. Within Child Health Services, early intervention frequently relates to giving a service at as young an age as possible, in the hope of improving the health and care of the child. Social work with children and families sees early intervention in Care and Adoption Services as an effective and cost effective method. Early intervention as a method is seen as a vital component of averting preventable problems emerging in later life, hence, it being viewed as having lasting outcomes for children in care. Although a lot of researchers have argued that, there is limited research evidence which show the effectiveness of early intervention within children and families social work. Early intervention as a hypothesis still benefits greatly from the support of social workers. Social workers argue that the reasons for the lack of evidence for the effectiveness of early intervention within children and families social work may be attributed to the fact that important activities of early intervention are also carried out by other agencies and professionals like teachers, health visitors, police officers and Surestart workers (Little et al.2003). Little (2003) also argued that a social worker’s role is not as clearly defined compared to other professionals. Little et al (2003) claim that not having clearly defined roles might result in not having specific or exact set of intervention to evaluate, hence the lack of evidence of its effectiveness.
The lack of clarity of social work roles means that there has to be a component of educated supposition when determining whether early interventions by social workers work. This could be done by identifying causes of individuals’ problems and how best to alleviate them, in conjunction with the assessment of certain services providing similar types of support to that which social workers offer. With that in mind, it could then be argued that it is very debatable to assume that because it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of statutory social work in early intervention then it is ineffective.
In as much as there are convincing arguments for the effectiveness of early intervention, there are still problems and complications in identifying who does what, when and with whom. I am not suggesting that because of that, early intervention is less effective. It is just that the literature available does not address straightforward questions such as what is the best possible way of using limited resources to deliver desired results. The literature also fails to identify whether early interventions will achieve...
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