DARE 2021

This biennial, international conference supports research, teaching and organisation development for social work in:

  • professional judgement and shared decision-making processes
  • developing assessment tools and processes to inform decision making
  • assessing, communicating and managing risk in practice and organisations
  • identifying, appraising, synthesising and using best evidence to inform practice

Dear colleagues, it has now become apparent that travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic will continue into 2021. We had hoped to run our next DARE conference (due in 2020) in person in June 2021, but that is not possible. The arrangements made for the DARE 2020 conference have now been postponed to Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 June 2022.

For 2021, we are running a free online DARE conference with a more limited programme. DARE SIX will be online the mornings of Monday 28, Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 June 2021. Further details will be added to this website as available.

Abstracts accepted for the planned 2020 conference will be regarded as accepted for the DARE SEVEN conference in 2022. If you have already paid the registration fee, we will regard that as the fee for the 2022 conference on the revised dates unless we hear from you and unless the hotel costs change markedly. If you require re-imbursement, please contact Mrs Sharon Lucas, our administrator ( dare@ulster.ac.uk). We look forward to seeing you in summer 2022 if not before!

Day One -  Professional Judgement & Decision Making

Monday 28 June 2021

Schedule for Professional Judgement & Decision Making
TimeSession
9.45amOpen for logging on
10am

Welcome and introduction to the day: Dr Judith Mullineux

10.15am

Talk One: Dr Alessandro Sicora: Intuition in social work professional judgements

10.45amTalk Two: Dr Martin Kettle: Professional judgement as tightrope walking
11.15amInstructions about next stage of the day
11.30amBreak during which people can post questions
12pmQuestion and answer session with speakers
12.20pmSmall group discussions
12.50pmConcluding comments
1pmFinish

Speakers

Dr Alessandro Sicora, Associate Professor, University of Trento, Italy

Intuition in social work professional judgements

‘Intuition’ is important in assessment and decision making since it is part of our cognitive faculties involved within professional judgement and makes use of internalised and holistic learning. Because of being considered too often a taboo topic, intuition in social work professional judgements is an area still to explore in depth in topics such as group decision processes, emotions and other elements in the wide area of ‘non rational’ faculties. Although the profession must continue to develop its ability to use the best knowledge to inform practice, a psychosocial rationality model may be required to conceptualise internalised ‘intuitive’ judgement processes in practice.

Dr Alessandro Sicora is Associate Professor at the University of Trento, Italy where he teaches on the Social Work BA and MA. From May 2021 he is Chair of the European Social Work Research Association. His main research interests include: methods of social work, reflexive practice, professional mistakes, decision making, social planning, comparative social policy and the implications of neoliberalism for social work. His more recent publications are on professional mistakes (Reflective practice and learning from mistakes in social work, 2017), aggression against social workers, shame and social work (Shame and Social Work: Theory, Reflexivity and Practice, 2020, co-edited).


Dr Martin Kettle, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland

Professional judgement as tightrope walking

Professional judgement in social work, particularly in relation to safeguarding, involves balancing a number of different considerations, often at the same time. A powerful analogy in this respect is that of the tightrope walker who, in order to successfully complete their journey, is required to make a series of minor adjustments, often at an intuitive level. Based on his doctoral study, a grounded theory of child protection social work, Martin will explore some of the complexity of professional judgement. More recent research will be considered and suggestions made about how this might be explored in the context of adult as well as child safeguarding.

Dr Martin Kettle is Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Programme Lead for the MSc in Social Work at Glasgow Caledonian University. A qualified social worker, his areas of teaching include values and ethics; decision-making and risk; and professional identity. His research interests include decision-making and risk; self-directed support; and professional socialisation. He is currently undertaking research for the Scottish Social Services Council on effective transitions from student to newly qualified social worker (NSQW). He is a member of the team undertaking a longitudinal study of NQSWs in Scotland, which is now entering its fifth year.

Day Two -  Assessment & Using Knowledge

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Schedule for Assessment & Using Knowledge
TimeSession
9.45Open for logging on
10amWelcome and introduction to the day: Dr Paul McCafferty
10.15amTalk One: Dr Mary Baginsky: Signs of Safety: all things to all assessments?
10.45amTalk Two: Dr Andrew Whittaker: Learning and teaching assessment skills: what do we know and how can we improve?
11.15amInstructions about next stage of the day
11.30amBreak during which people can post questions
12pmQuestion and answer session with speakers
12.20pmSmall group discussions
12.50pmConcluding comments
1pmFinish

Speakers

Dr Mary Baginsky, Senior Research Fellow, King’s College London

Signs of Safety: all things to all assessments?

Signs of Safety (SoS) is a strengths-based approach to child protection casework that was developed in Australia by Dr Andrew Turnell and Steve Edwards. Since 2000 it has been introduced into many English local authorities and is used in many other countries, supported by the Elia Consultancy. An evaluation of Signs of Safety in pilot local authorities in England provided the opportunity to examine how it was used by social workers when making assessments and the quality of these assessments. This was examined using findings from interviews with social workers and parents, case record analysis, observations and surveys.

Dr Mary Baginsky has conducted many research and evaluations in children's social care settings and in education. This presentation is based on two evaluations that took place between 2015 and 2017 and between 2018 and 2019. The evaluations, supported by Professor Eileen Munro, Professor Andrew Turnell and Tery Murphy, were of 10 pilots implementing Signs of Safety. The projects were funded by two grants from the Children's Social Care Innovation Fund, Department for Education. London.


Dr Andrew Whittaker, Associate Professor and Head of the Risk and Expert Decision-making (RRED) research group, London South Bank University

Learning and teaching assessment skills: what do we know and how can we improve?

This presentation aims to explain how we learn to undertake assessments in the real world and how we can become better at teaching assessment skills. Based upon observation of real-life practice, it will explore how our understanding changes as we move from novices to highly experienced practitioners. Using research from neuroscience and cognitive psychology, it will explain how we use intuitive and analytic skills in assessments in ways that we are not conscious of. Finally, it will explore how novices can learn to acquire some of the assessment skills of highly experienced practitioners using digital teaching tools.

Dr Andrew Whittaker is Associate Professor and Head of the Risk Resilience and Expert Decision Making (RRED) research group at London South Bank University, UK. He is the principal investigator on a British Academy funded randomised controlled trial of a digital intervention to improve professional judgments following an ethnographic study of decision making in front line child protection teams. Based upon this research, Andrew recently completed a review of professional decision making for a child death inquiry in Queensland, Australia. He is a co-convenor of DARSIG, the European network for researchers in the field of decision making, assessment and risk and Editor of the Journal of Social Work Practice.

Day Three -  Assessment & Using Knowledge

Wednesday 30 June 2021

Schedule for Risk Factors & Assessing Risk
TimeSession
9.45amOpen for logging on
10amWelcome and introduction to the day: Dr Campbell Killick
10.15amTalk One: Dr Laura Cook: Appraising risks during the initial home visit
10.45amTalk Two: Dr Beth Coulthard: ‘Big data’ in social work: challenges and opportunities
11.15amInstructions about next stage of the day
11.30amBreak during which people can post questions
12pmQuestion and answer session with speakers
12.20pmSmall group discussions
12.50pmConcluding comments
1pmFinish

Speakers

Dr Laura Cook, Lecturer in Social Work, University of East Anglia, England

Appraising risks during the initial home visit 

Drawing on recent research, this presentation will examine how child and family social workers assess risk during initial home visits. The research found that social workers’ intuitions during their first encounter with the family were highly influential in their assessment of risk – their emotional responses, ‘niggles’ and ‘gut feelings’ sensitised them to potentially salient information before it was rationally accessible. The research identified five cognitive shortcuts used by workers to assess risk during the initial visit: openness, coherence, emotional congruence, child focus and personal responsibility. These findings raise interesting questions about role of intuition and social perception in child welfare decision-making.

Dr Laura Cook is Lecturer in Social Work at the University of East Anglia in England where she teaches on the qualifying and continuing professional development courses. Her research focuses on decision-making, resilience, retention and professional identity among social workers. Laura has published a number of articles on sense-making in social work and the conduct of initial home visits in child welfare. She is currently undertaking a British Academy-funded project on the retention of experienced child and family social workers in England.


Dr Beth Coulthard, Ulster University, Post-Doctoral Research Associate

‘Big data’ in social work: challenges and opportunities

What is big data and its potential application to social work? Should artificial intelligence guide high-stakes decisions for the most vulnerable in society? This talk will explain what big data is and discuss its track record in social work using local and international example. It will identify the practical and ethical challenges, as well as the benefits, for professionals, service users and wider society, with a particular emphasis on transparency. Imagine an app, shared by professionals and service users alike, guiding professional decisions whilst also explaining them to service users, inviting challenge and supporting independent change. Is this the brighter future, a fantasy, or a grave new world?

Dr Beth Coulthard is a former probation officer, youth justice manager and children’s guardian with the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), always with a particular focus on risk, evidence, and information systems. She has recently completed a PhD at Ulster University examining the factors influencing outcomes for children within care proceedings throughout England. The project used novel big data methods, including natural language processing, to gain insights from large repositories of social work court statements held by Cafcass.

How to Register

Registration information coming soon.

Previous Conferences

DARE 2018

The fifth DARE symposium in July 2018 brought together about 160 delegates from 22 countries (across four continents), including senior practitioners, managers, policy makers, researchers, regulators and social workers in education and training.

Plenary Speakers

  • Professor Haluk Soydan, Research Professor of Social Work, University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, USA
  • Professor Rami Benbenishty, Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work, Bar Ilan University, Israel,
  • Professor Brian Littlechild, Research Lead, Department of Nursing & Social Work, University of Hertfordshire

DARE 2016

The fourth DARE symposium in July 2016 brought together about 130 delegates from 12 countries including social workers in practice, management, policy, regulation, and education and training.

Plenary Speakers

  • Mandeep K. Dhami, PhD, Professor of Decision Psychology at Middlesex University, London.
  • John D. Fluke, PhD, Associate Director of System Research and Evaluation at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect and Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
  • Gerd Gigerenzer, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy in Berlin.

DARE 2014

The third DARE symposium in July 2014 brought together about 120 delegates from 10 countries including social workers in practice, management, policy, regulation, and education and training.

Plenary Speakers

  • Professor Eileen Gambrill, Hutto Patterson Professor of Child and Family Studies, University of California at Berkeley, USA, internationally recognized for her work on critical thinking, decision making and related ethical issues, and evidence based practice.
  • Dr Martin Webber, Reader in Social Work, University of York, UK, well-known for his passion for rigorous research in mental health social work, including application of evidence to practice decisions and professional knowledge-creation process.
  • Mr David Carson, Visitor, School of Law, University of Southampton, UK, an international speaker on the interface between law and risk in human services including the management of risk and professional decisions in organizations.

DARE 2012

The second DARE symposium in July 2012 brought together about 100 delegates from nine countries including social workers in practice, management, policy, regulation, and education and training.

Plenary Speakers

  • Professor Hazel Kemshall, De Montfort University Leicester who has published widely on risk assessment and management with adult client groups including criminal justice.
  • Professor Aron Shlonsky, University of Toronto who has published widely on risk assessment and predicting harm in child welfare, and on evidence based practice in social work.

Dare 2010

The first DARE symposium in July 2010 brought together about 70 delegates including social workers in practice, management, policy, regulation, and education and training.

Plenary Speakers

  • Professor Jill Manthorpe, Director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London, who has undertaken research and published widely on adult safeguarding and risk in social care.
  • Mr Martin Calder, MA, CQSW, private consultant of Calder Training & Consultancy Ltd, who has undertaken developmental work with organisations and published widely on risk and assessment in child protection.