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In response to widespread and persistent concern over the ability of social services for children and families to safeguard the wellbeing of the most vulnerable children, UK governments, particularly in England, have in recent years introduced some of the most far reaching changes ever encountered in this field. However, this book argues that in England especially, despite the best intentions of those driving these changes forward, the approaches to reform which have been adopted have substantially diminished the capability of children's social services to respond effectively to the complex challenges which they face. In this book, leading authors in the field of social work explore the impact of the reform agenda on key areas of children's services practice including child safeguarding, youth offending, children in care, family support, ethical practice and child welfare law. They describe an oppressive, managerialist environment within which process and procedures are prioritised over outcomes and objectives, targets and indicators over values and professional standards, and compliance and completion over analysis and reflection. Key themes include failures of analysis, lack of effective engagement with research, and the proceduralisation, technicalisation and deprofesionalisation of the social work task. This book argues that effective practice requires research-informed, reflective, confident and critically challenging practitioners supported by management systems which promote rather than undermine their effectiveness. Leaning on more positive developments elsewhere in the UK, it challenges ministers and senior managers to commit to the significant change of direction, both practical and conceptual, which is required if children's services are to escape from the vicious spiral of declining performance into which they currently lie in danger of descending.