The Meandering Social Worker

wandering : wondering : learning

Champions for Children – book review

Champions for Children: The lives of modern child care pioneers (revised edition) by Bob Holman [2013], Policy Press, Abingdon, Oxon,, Paperback £22.99, ISBN 978-1-44730-914-7
In presenting seven short biographies of child care pioneers, who between them were influential in developments such as the introduction of Child Benefit, the 1948 Children Act, fostering services and professional training, Holman effectively outlines the history behind our modern social services, and the move away from the provisions of the old Poor Law in pre-war Britain. Contextually placed with important developments such as Seebohm, Utting, the 1970 Local Authority Act, and other well-known figures in the development of policies and theories still relevant today, this makes good background reading especially for the preparing social work student.

Although this is a revised edition this is mainly with the addition of an excellent Epilogue. However, incorporating this into the chapter ‘Past Present and Future’, while updating the chapters on Townsend and Holman (author), would probably help contextualise the thin thread of concern, raised by these pioneers even in their lifetimes, that, despite the significant changes they brought about, subsequent amalgamation and the bureaucratisation of social work has had a negative impact on child care practice; it would also reinforce the extent to which many of the issues and problems these pioneers tackled are still relevant today. In this area the book is still pertinent to today’s social work policy makers and leaders.

In all other respects this book is well researched and academically sound while remaining easy ‘curled up in an armchair with a good book’ reading anyone can enjoy, yet with the power to inspire the reader out of the armchair and into action.


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