I have recently started the 1+3 route of the PhD studentship on the social work pathway.
The aim of my PhD is to gain an understanding of parents and professionals’ perspectives of parental advocacy services two local authorities, one in Wales and one in England. The study will consider the perceived impact of parental advocacy services on the relationships between parents and social workers and other key professionals.
Research from the USA suggests that parental advocates can improve the relationship between parents and social workers and provide parents with more of a voice in decision making when their children are open to children and family social workers (Lalayants 2021, Tobis et al. 2020). Whilst research into this area in the UK is limited, some research undertaken by Featherstone (2012) and Featherstone et al. (2014) has also identified promising signs that parents advocates have the potential to better support parents who are involved in child protection social work and in doing so, help to improve outcomes for families who feel more engaged by professionals.
This is an emergent area of research in the UK and I hope my research will add to a growing knowledge base which can help better inform social work practice.