Radical Practice in a Risk-Averse Environment: Learning from ATD Fourth World

The article Radical Practice in a Risk-Averse Environment: Learning from ATD Fourth World has been published by Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work and is available to download here.

Written in collaboration with independent researcher Hannah Blumhardt and Dr Anna Gupta of Royal Holloway, University of London, the article examines how the often inflexible, top-down nature of state child protection policies in Aotearoa New Zealand, coupled with an atmosphere of policing, control and disregard for the impact of poverty, constrain social workers and families alike and undermine the crucial social worker-family relationship that is at the heart of all best practice.

In contrast, an approach rooted in genuine strengths-based practice that relies on nuanced understandings of poverty, a commitment to advance families’ wishes and a relationship of trust, such as ATD Fourth World’s Family Support Programme, offer a different model for working with families experiencing poverty and social exclusion.

Radical Practice in a Risk-averse Environment leaned heavily on work carried out in the ATD Fourth World Social Worker Training Programme and is the fourth published article to result from this project over the past two and a half years.the words of Kathy, one of the participants, “This project is very important to me because it means I am not invisible anymore; I am recognised as a human being with thoughts, feelings and aspirations. I feel respected. It helps me define myself more positively and feel I have a valuable part to play in society.”