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Child Welfare & Protection - Separating the Inseparable?

  • Ashling Hotel, Parkgate Street
  • 9.00 - 3.30
  • 06 Feb 2015

Price €25 members/ €45 non-members/ €15 students

THIS EVENT IS FULLY BOOKED - The Children and Families Special Interest Group are hosting a conference on child welfare and protection

Price includes lunch and refreshments.


The conference will be chaired by Michele Clarke, Social Work and Child Care Specialist, Department of Children and Youth Affairs



9.00                    Registration, tea and coffee

9.30                    Conference welcome & open by Senator Jillian Van Turnhout

9.45                    The Politics of Evidence            Prof. Sue White

10.45                  Tea/coffee break

11.15                  Meeting challenges and avoiding knee jerk reactions in the child protection system       Dr Helen Buckley 


12.15                  Children & Families AGM


12.45                  Lunch

1.45                    Workshops

  • Colette O’Donovan – Using Marte Meo in identifying and building supports to birth parent/child attachment in daily interaction
  • Aisling Malone - Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics
  • Margaret Beaumont – Learning from a model of attachment
  • Gerry Pollard - "The Poetry of Yourself" Child Art Psychotherapy as an Emotional Space rather than an Intellectual One


3.00                    Discussion, next steps and close


3.5 CPD points have been awarded for this event


Sue White's paper will address The Politics of Evidence

Sue will discuss the notions of efficiency, effectiveness and evidence in social work. She will argue that these have been imported into social work in particular and not always helpful ways. She will examine 'the politics of evidence' and make an argument for a more robust and active engagement of the profession with its ideas and its sources of knowledge so to develop a productive resistance to fashion and fad.


Helen Buckley will speak on Meeting challenges and avoiding knee jerk reactions in the child protection system

Current data continues to demonstrate the untenable situation in statutory child and family social work in Ireland, with increasing reporting rates, high levels of gatekeeping and unallocated cases.  The simple solution would be to expand in the state child protection services but the issue is complex, indeed quite paradoxical, and requires a more sophisticated response.

This presentation will firstly examine the position of statutory child protection social work in our society, contextualised within the current policy paradigm.  While demonstrating the potential pitfalls of ‘growing’ the statutory system, it will also challenge the popular notion of community based family support and early intervention as the only alternative option. It will outline the necessity for a cultural shift in our attitudes to vulnerable children and will propose an alternative role for social work that is more in keeping with its professional purpose.


Margaret Beaumont's workshop will focus on Learning from a Model of Attachment. Attachment is the deep and enduring biological, emotional and social connection that care-givers and children establish at the start of life. The attachment relationship is the core of a child's life and the foundation on whcih life is built. In this workshop, we consider and learn from a model of attachment. This then leads us to consider concepts and theories that flow from attachment. 


Colette O’ Donovan’s workshop will focus on the early attachment relationship, using film clips to identify how the attachment relationship develops in daily interaction moments. Film will also be used to demonstrate early signs of attachment issues and supports required in daily interaction to restore contact and the child’s developmental process.



Margaret Beaumont, B.S.S., M.A., M.Sc., C.Q.S.W., come from a social work background and has previously worked in the field of fostering. She has an M.Sc. in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. She is a Marte Meo therapist and supervisor.

Currently, Margaret works as a psychotherapist, as a consultant and provides training on Attachment and Child Development Issues to foster parents, social works, chilcare workers, residential staff caring for children and to prospective inter-country adopters and she provides support and training to people who have adopted children from other countries. 


Helen Buckley is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and Social Policy in TCD where she coordinates the Postgraduate Diploma in Child Protection & Welfare. She has conducted research on a number of related topics including  assessment, the impact of domestic violence on children, child protection service user perspectives, evidence based practice and the development of effective recommendations in child abuse inquiries.  She is currently the Chair of the National Review Panel which reviews the deaths of children known to child protection services.  


Michele Clarke has worked as the Social Work Specialist in the DCYA for the past four years and works across a range of policy and oversight areas in particular child protection and children in care. Prior to joining the Department Michele worked for 30 years across a range of services including regulation and inspection of children’s services, child protection and welfare, children in care, child mental health  as well as well as independent consultation and reviews and part-time academic teaching.  


Aisling Malone is a solicitor in the Healthcare department of Hayes solicitors and specialises in the area of medical defence litigation, including medical and dental negligence. She also assists in advising clients facing Medical Council investigations and representing clients at Fitness to Practise Inquiries which she also did when working in another firm following qualification as a Solicitor. Prior to joining Hayes Solicitors, Aisling worked as in-house lawyer with the Medical Council of Ireland. She advised the Medical Council and its committees in relation to all aspects of the Medical Practitioners Act, 2007 and the Medical Council’s statutory remit and functions. Her duties included the strategic supervision of Case Officers conducting investigations on behalf of the Preliminary Proceedings Committee (the “PPC”) and providing direct legal advice to the PPC during its consideration of complaints. She also worked closely with the Medical Council’s external solicitors in respect of Fitness to Practise Inquiries.  


Colette O'Donovan is the Licensed Marte Meo Supervisor in Ireland since 1995 and Co-ordinator of the Marte Meo Training Centre, TUSLA, Child and Family Agency, Dublin. She has extensive experience in training Social Workers and allied health and social care professionals to Marte Meo Therapist and Supervisor levels, as well as coaching a wide variety of professionals to apply Marte Meo communication skills in services from birth to old age.  She has supported agencies to develop developmental information packages such as ‘Getting to Know Your Baby’ and ‘Essential Elements of Communication to Enhance a Co-operation Model with Young People.’ In 2011, Colette completed her M.Sc by Research in Dublin City University. 


Gerry Pollard began his work with the Eastern Health Board in Glenn House more than 20 years ago, where the manager took a psychodynamic approach to children in this residential setting, the approach influenced by Winnicott. Following completion of a Masters in Fine Art, Gerry completed a course in Visual Psychotherapy (now titled Child Art Psychotherapy) and a two year placemetn in the Mater Child Guidance Clinic. Gerry went on to set up the HSE Child Art Psychotherapy Service ten years ago which provides a service primarily to children in foster and residential care, most of whom are referred by child welfare and protection social workers. Gerry continues to receive clinical supervision from the Mater Child Guidance Clinic. 

Find out more about Child Art Psychotherapy at


Sue White is Professor of Social Work (Children and Families) at the University of Birmingham. She is qualified in social work and was employed as a practitioner and manager for 13 years before becoming an academic. Her academic background is in sociology and this has informed her work across the last two decades. Her research has focused principally on the detailed analysis of everyday professional decision-making in child health and welfare.  She has completed two influential Research Council funded studies. The first of these focuses on electronic information sharing in multi-disciplinary child welfare practice and the second on the impact of performance management and the Integrated Children’s System in statutory children’s social care. Her latest research funded by the National Institute for Health Research, focused on designing safer systems for the detection of children at risk presenting in secondary health settings, based on a thorough understanding of human and social factors.

During 2009, Sue served on the Social Work Task Force and subsequently the Social Work Reform Board. From 2007-2011 she was Chair of the Association of Professors of Social Work. She also served on the Reference Group for the Munro Review of Child Protection in England. She was Editor in Chief of Child and Family Social Work from 2007-2015. She is a trustee of the Family Rights Group, a charity in England that advises families whose children are involved with, or need children’s services because of welfare needs or concerns and which promotes policies and practices, that help children to be raised safely and securely within their wider families.