"Roll back the years": A study of grandparent special guardians' experiences and implications for social work policy and practice in England

Article


Hingley-Jones, H., Allain, L., Gleeson, H. and Twumasi, B. 2020. "Roll back the years": A study of grandparent special guardians' experiences and implications for social work policy and practice in England. Child & Family Social Work. 25 (3), pp. 526-535. https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12718
TypeArticle
Title"Roll back the years": A study of grandparent special guardians' experiences and implications for social work policy and practice in England
AuthorsHingley-Jones, H., Allain, L., Gleeson, H. and Twumasi, B.
Abstract

Growing numbers of grandparent special guardians (GSGs) are assuming responsibility for increasing numbers of children in the care system in England. Special guardianship arrangements are increasingly used as a permanency option as they allow children to remain in their kinship networks, rather than in local authority care or be adopted; yet there is a scarcity of research on GSG carers’ experiences. This article reports a small qualitative research study where ten sets of grandparents were interviewed to explore their journey to becoming GSGs and to theorise their subsequent experiences. Two themes emerge. Firstly, experiences of the assessment process are elaborated, decisions often being made at a time of family crisis, impacting on GSGs: financial, employment, relational. Secondly, GSGs’ experiences of managing often-challenging relationships and contact arrangements between the grandchildren and the parents reveal three main relationship management approaches emerging: containing-flexible; containing-controlled and; uncontained/defeated approaches. Anthropological concepts of affinity help theorise the GSGs’ ambivalent responses to becoming carers in later life, enabling reconfigured kinship relationships in new family forms. Family policy and social work practice is critiqued as GSGs appear often left alone to ‘roll back the years’, to heal previous harms done to the grandchildren who end-up in their care.

Keywordskinship; permanency; social work; special guardianship
LanguageEnglish
PublisherWiley
JournalChild & Family Social Work
ISSN1356-7500
Electronic1365-2206
Publication dates
Online13 Dec 2019
Print13 Jul 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Nov 2019
Accepted08 Nov 2019
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
Copyright Statement

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Hingley‐Jones, H, Allain, L, Gleeson, H, Twumasi, B. “Roll back the years”: A study of grandparent special guardians' experiences and implications for social work policy and practice in England. Child & Family Social Work. 2020; 25 526– 535, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12718. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12718
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85076348366
Web of Science identifierWOS:000502451500001
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Allain, L., Brown, H., Danso, C., Dillon, J., Finnegan, P., Gadhoke, S., Shamash, M. and Whittaker, F. 2006. User and carer involvement in social work education: a university case study: manipulation or citizen control? Social Work Education. 25 (4), pp. 403-413.
Social work with looked after children
Cocker, C. and Allain, L. 2007. Social work with looked after children. Learning Matters.
Integrating services for disabled children and their families in two English local authorities
Hingley-Jones, H. and Allain, L. 2008. Integrating services for disabled children and their families in two English local authorities. Journal of Interprofessional Care. 22 (5), pp. 534-544. https://doi.org/10.1080/13561820802190830
The dynamics of difference: making it work’ interprofessional learning
Allain, L., Bell, L., Ahmet, L., Allen, S. and Villadsen, A. 2009. The dynamics of difference: making it work’ interprofessional learning. Middlesex University Learning and Teaching Conference. Middlesex University