Restorative Practice and Restorative Conversations

a Group meeting
Table of Contents

    The focus of this CPD session is on restorative practice and thinking about having restorative conversations with the families that we work with.

    In this session I will outline:

    • restorative practice, principles and key concepts;
    • suggested guide for restorative conversations;
    • share recent research findings of the use of restorative practices with families where there is domestic violence and abuse and child protection concerns.

    What is Restorative Practice?

    Restorative practice is an approach that supports building safe and trusting relationships by repairing relationships when there are difficulties and harm. Restorative practice has its roots in restorative justice which originates from indigenous conflict resolution practices from Māori, Aboriginal, and First Nation  American cultures [1]Wachtel, T. (2016). In pursuit of paradigm: A theory of restorative justice. Available from: https://biblioteca.cejamericas.org/bitstream/handle/2015/2163/paradigm.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y.

    Restorative Justice originated in the 1970s as a mediation approach and developed into a social and political movement that sought to change the way the criminal justice system and society responded to crime. Rather than only focusing on punishing those that had caused harm, restorative justice emphasised repairing the harm done to people and relationships through community-based approaches [2]Braithwaite, J. (2000). The new regulatory state and the transformation of criminology. British journal of criminology, 40(2), 222-238.[3]Zehr, H. (1990). Changing lenses: A new focus for crime and justice. Herald press.

    Restorative practices are adapted from restorative justice and emphasise collaboration and inclusive approaches that share power between state, family and community representatives and resources, believing that if this is achieved such practices can promote human rights, social justice, and give voice to those often unheard [4]Burford, G. and Hudson, J. (2001). Family group decision making: New directions in community entered child and family practice. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 230, pp.837-847..

    Restorative Practice Principles – The 5 R’s of Restorative Practice

    Restorative Practice is based on the 5 Restorative Justice Principles. These are relationship, respect, responsibility, repair and reintegration, as detailed below [5]Wachtel, T. (2013) Defining Restorative. International Institute for Restorative Practices. Cumbria. Available from: www.kipp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/[6]The Conflict Centre (2018) The 5 Rs of Restorative Practice. Available from: https://conflictcenter.org/the-5-rs-of-restorative-justice/:

    Relationship

    Relationships are central to restorative practices. We are relational beings and this brings a necessity to think relationally in everything we do.  Using restorative approaches can support and build connections, help repair relationships by developing caring connections and finding common ground to build healthier relationships  

    Respect

    Recognising harm and active listening. All those involved are expected to show respect for others so that the harm is recognised and the voice of those that have been harmed can be heard. Others have an opportunity to be heard too.

    Responsibility

    Emphasis is placed on the harm and behaviour rather than the person.  The person who caused harm needs to take responsibility for their actions by accepting their behaviour and the harm caused and being accountable.

    Repair

    After respect and responsibility have been established, the next step is towards repairing the process. This involves collaborative problem-solving to repair the harm that has been caused.  It is through working to repair the situation that the person that was harmed can have their harm recognised and the person who caused harm to acknowledge that while not all harms can be repaired, steps are identified to change their behaviour and repair the situation.

    Reintegration

    In order to complete the process, the family /community allow (where this is safe) the person who caused harm to accept responsibility and begin the reintegration process (where this is safe). Reintegration encourages collaboration of the community and the person who caused harm rather than turning toward coercion and isolation. By accepting responsibility and agreeing to repair the harm, the person who caused harm creates the potential to build trust and be included rather than isolated.

    The example of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) will be used to illustrate the five principles within this CPD module.

    Reintegrative Shaming

    Reintegrating shaming [7]Braithwaite, J. (1989). Crime, shame and reintegration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. is a key concept in restorative justice and has been adopted by restorative practice too. This concept recognises that punitive responses can lead to shame and stigmatisation; what Braithwaite termed stigmatic shaming. He contrasted this with the concept of reintegrative shaming  – being included within the family / community, rather than being excluded, which can lead to the expression of remorse and shame. The person’s harmful behaviour is condemned rather than the person to prevent the person being excluded and instead focusing on the person taking action to repair the harm caused and change their behaviour. This process has been referred to as the `core sequence` of restorative processes. Shame is communicated following acceptance of harmful behaviour and the commitment to repairing relationships [8]Scheff, T. and Retzinger, S. (2000). Shame and Shaming in Restorative Justice. The Red Feather Journal of Postmodern Criminology. Available from: … Continue reading. In this way, reintegrative shaming has the potential to motivate repair and resolution in relationships.  

    The process of reintegrative shaming is part of the restorative process. The safety and consent of those that have been harmed is a precondition of the process. The person who has caused harm must acknowledge and accept their harmful behaviour and agree to undertake actions to provide reparation for the harm they have caused. The wider support network seeks to hold the person causing harm accountable by addressing the underlying causes of harmful behaviour and ensuring that they take responsibility by undertaking a commitment to make amends.

    The person causing harm maintains their personhood and where safe can be supported to play a positive role in the family/community. For example, in situations of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) the person causing harm (often the father), is seen as both a father and a perpetrator of abuse [9]Pennell, J., Sanders, T., Rikard, R.V., Shepherd, J. and Starsoneck, L. (2013). Family violence, fathers, and restoring personhood. Restorative Justice1(2), 268-289.. Many fathers continue to have some contact with their children where there is DVA whether there is separation or not. These men may go on to have other relationships and contact with other children [10]Featherstone, B., Morris, K. and White, S. (2014). Re-imagining child protection: Towards humane social work with families. Bristol: Policy Press.[11]Philip, G., Clifton, J. and Brandon, M. (2019). The Trouble With Fathers: The Impact of Time and Gendered-Thinking on Working Relationships Between Fathers and Social Workers in Child Protection … Continue reading[12]Philip, G., Youansamouth, L., Bedston, S., Broadhurst, K., Hu, Y., Clifton, J. and Brandon, M. (2020). “I had no hope, I had no help at all”: insights from a first study of fathers and recurrent … Continue reading.  Previous research has evidenced how including fathers in restorative processes to address DVA has led to the safety of children and mothers and led to a reduction of repeat DVA [13]Pennell, J. and Burford, G. (2002). Making family group conferencing work. Restorative justice and family violence, 108.[14]Mason, P., Ferguson, H., Morris, K., Munton, T. and Sen, R. (2017), Leeds Family Valued evaluation report. Available from: www.assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/ government/uploads/system/uploads/ … Continue reading.

    What is the difference between restorative justice and restorative practice?

    While restorative practices have developed from restorative justice, they differ in two key ways.

    1. Restorative principles are used in everyday contexts to try and improve relationships and environments 
    2. Restorative practices are used as a process to address problems as they arise and aim to achieve change by concentrating on the problem rather than the person [15]Hopkins, B. (2009). Just Care; Restorative Justice Approaches to Working with Children in Public Care. London: Jessica Kingsley.[16] Wachtel, T. (2013) Defining Restorative. International Institute for Restorative Practices. Cumbria. Available from: www.kipp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/.

    Restorative Practice in Children and Families Social work

    Restorative practices developed in the 1980s in New Zealand, in the form of Family Group Conferences (FGC). They were used as a way of responding to the disproportionate numbers of Māori children placed in the New Zealand care system. FGCs are a strengths-based, family-led, decision-making approach that facilitates families to come together with professionals to discuss and agree plans for the care and protection of children [17]Ashley, C. and Nixon, P. (Eds) (2007). Family Group Conferences-Where Next? London: Family Rights Group.. Since then, Family Group Conferences have been adopted in different ways to support child and family welfare in other countries.

    Restorative practice has spread in children and families social work and is increasingly used in the UK to support strengths-based participatory practice with families in informal and formal settings. This can include everyday conversations to restorative conferences/ restorative circles and family group conferences (FGCs).   Restorative conferences, restorative circles and family group conferences are terms that are used interchangeably. All three processes bring together people affected by harm together to provide an opportunity to seek a resolution. Often people will sit together in a circle for the meeting/conference.

    A restorative conference or circle is a technique that builds and restores relationships through having equal opportunity to speak and listen. Talking circles can proactively build the skills people need when conflicts arise because they give every person the opportunity to speak and be heard. Restorative circles are especially beneficial for learning how to negotiate conflict, as they encourage respectful listening and healthy self-expression skills. Restorative conferences and restorative circles can be utilised as impromptu group processes.

    FGCs are usually formal structured processes as described below. In children and families social work practice, FGCs consist of a family network meeting with an independent facilitator and professionals supporting the family, to come together to discuss issues relating to the welfare of the child or young person. There are three key stages to an FGC meeting;

    1. Preparation. The independent facilitator prepares carefully for the meeting by working with the family and professionals to include a wide family network, provide support to enable those involved to feel safe to participate and ensure the family are involved in the practicalities of the meeting to reflect their choice of venue, food, etc.
    2. The Meeting has two stages; the first stage is where professionals and family members come together, and the professionals share information about their concerns about the child’s welfare. The second stage is private family time. Professionals leave the room and the family have time for discussion and to make a family plan that identifies how concerns will be met and arrangements for monitoring the plan. In this way the process facilitates family-led decision-making.
    3. The Family Plan is shared at the meeting, with professionals re-joining and resources discussed, with the family plan agreed in principle and/or the plan is circulated following the meeting. There can be a single FGC meeting or more and often a meeting to review the plan is arranged too (Morris and Burford 2009, 122).

    There is international evidence of the positive outcomes that restorative practices can achieve for families where there are child welfare concerns (Burford and Hudson 2000, Frost et al 2014b; [18]Mitchell, M. (2020). Reimagining child welfare outcomes: Learning from family group conferencing. Child & Family Social Work, 25(2), 211-220.. This way of working helps individuals and families to learn skills for resolving problems themselves, rather than being told what to do.

    Family-Led Decision-Making – A case example 

    Jess and Charlie live together with their one-year-old child and Jess’s two children (eight and six years old) from previous relationships. The older children see their respective fathers every two weeks for a weekend stay with them. The children are subject to a child protection plan under the emotional abuse category focusing on domestic abuse from Charlie to Jess.

    They have had two Family Group Conferences to identify a safety and support plan for the family. The focus has been on safety and support when Jess and Charlie are arguing and tension is escalating.

    Jess’s ex partners and the two fathers of her older children attended, along with Jess’s friend and neighbour, her mother and Charlie’s mother.

    The family group coordinator has met with all the network and prepared for the meeting in partnership with the family.

    The children did not attend the meeting. The family group coordinator met with them and they wrote a list of the ways they wanted their family to be safer.

    In the first part of the meeting there was a discussion with professionals and the social worker shared his concerns about the safety and protection needs of the children.  The two older children’s pictures and list of `how to be safe in my family` were read out and each participant was given a copy.

    In the second part of the meeting the professionals left and the family network discussed what they could do to prevent DVA and pre-empt situations from escalating.

    The family made the following plan

    • Charlie agreed that he needed to address his abusive behaviour and agreed to being referred to a Caring Dads course.
    • The older children’s fathers agreed that they would be open to caring for their children for a longer period if needed.
    • Charlie and his mother agreed that he could have timeout and visit his mother’s house and stay overnight if he needed to.
    • Jess, her mother, Charlie’s mother and Jess’s neighbour agreed to make a What’s App group so that Jess could contact them if she needed support. Because they all lived nearby, they could be with Jess and Charlie quickly. 
    • The family agreed that the two older children should be at the next meeting to say if they thought the situation was better for them.

    This plan was shared with the professionals when they returned to the meeting.

    The meeting agreed to review the plan at a meeting in 3 months. The social worker and Family Group Coordinator would keep in regular contact with the family up to the next meeting.

    The Social Discipline Window

    The social discipline window [19]McCold, P. and Wachtel, T. (2001). Restorative justice in everyday life. In Braithwaite, J. and Strang, H. (eds) Restorative justice and civil society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. … Continue reading is a restorative concept that helps to think about practice with families. Four approaches to practice are represented in the window that illustrate combinations of high control or low control and low support and low support through different corners of the window. 

    Restorative practice is about working with others, in a way that sets clear boundaries and holds people to account (high challenge) as well as providing the support and encouragement for those challenges to be met (high support).

    Restorative practice sits in the top right-hand corner (blue).  The goal is for practitioners and services to work with families and others to achieve high challenge and high support and is characterised by doing things with people, rather than to them or for them.

    the social discipline window

    The top left corner is characterised by high control and low support.  This is characterised by a punitive approach where services do to families and family members. There is minimal collaborative working and demands are placed on families with little support to meet these high demands. 

    The bottom right-hand corner is characterised by low support and low challenge. This is a permissive  doing for approach to working with families. Services may respond to family needs by doing things for them, encouraging dependency and not sharing responsibility in a way that can support families to learn to do for themselves.

    The bottom left-hand corner is characterised by low support and low challenge and a not doing approach. This approach is characterised as neglectful and involves families not being engaged with in a way that supports them to meet their needs. This can lead to neglect of the difficulties that families face and family distress [20]Domakin, A and Wright. A. (2019) PSDP—Resources and Tools: Social discipline window. Practice Tool: Social discipline window. Research in practice. Available from: … Continue reading.

    Reflection

    Looking at the social discipline window can you identify practice or communication (your own or others) that fits into each square?

    Reflect on why you think you/ others might sometimes do things for families and to them?

    How do you think you could move your own practice towards a restorative WITH approach (the top right square)? 

    Do you think there are situations when a restorative approach might not be appropriate? Why?

    Restorative Conversations

    Language matters

    Restorative approaches adopt a person-centred approach to language. Often using a person who causes harm instead of `perpetrator` and a person who experiences harm instead of `victim`. Restorative practices emphasise the importance of using language that opens dialogue with families rather than language that is punitive, blaming or shaming. This challenges us to think about the labels and categories that we use. For example, binary terms such as victim/perpetrator. While commonly used in DVA situations, they are problematic because they become fixed categories that can reinforce stigma and create barriers to seeking help and reporting harm [21]Portnoy, G., Colon, R., Gross, G., Adams, L., Bastian, L., Iverson, K. (2020). Patient and provider barriers, facilitators, and implementation preferences of intimate partner violence … Continue reading. These terms can also prevent the person being seen beyond the category.

    The way that we communicate and the language we use is key to a restorative approach. Language frames and sets the tone for how we build relationships with children and families. This involves how we speak to each other and how we listen to each other. Hopkins [22]Hopkins, B. (2011). The Restorative Classroom: Using Restorative approaches to foster effective learning. London: Jessica Kingsley. provides a useful framework for understanding how restorative vocabulary and listening set the tone for a restorative conversation. He states the value of holding the following aims in mind.

    • everyone has their own unique and valued experience,
    • thoughts influence emotions and emotions influence actions
    • build empathy and consideration,
    • identify needs and unmet needs
    • build collective responsibility for problem solving and decision-making.

    The use of non-judgemental language and affective statements can facilitate inclusivity by seeking out different perspectives, acknowledging the experiences of all involved and encouraging different ways of making sense of the situation.


    Affective statements are “I” statements and within restorative practices can communicate to another person how they have been affected by another person’s behaviour and the emotional impact of this behaviour.  

    The premise of this in restorative approaches is that when we tell someone how we feel, we create a connection that can help to build understanding and motivate responsibility and change. 

    Reflection

    Can you think of any terms/ labels/categories that are commonly used in your team or professional networks to describe families/family members that can intentionally or unintentionally exclude or stigmatise?

    Why do you think they are commonly used? Are there alternative words or phrases that could be used? How could you challenge the use of these terms in your team/professional network?

    You could check out Bryony Shannon’s blog for more on language and the use of jargon in social work:

    https://rewritingsocialcare.blog/2019/08/09/why-language-matters/

    The Restorative Practices Continuum

    Restorative practices are not limited to formal processes, such as Family Group Conferences, but range from informal to formal. On a restorative practices continuum (below), the informal practices include affective statements that communicate people’s feelings, as well as affective questions that help people to reflect on how their behaviour has affected others. Impromptu restorative conversations do not require the preparation needed for more structured conferences. Moving from left to right on the continuum, as restorative practices become more formal, they involve more people, require more planning and time, and they are more structured. Although a formal process might involve more people and have a wider impact on the family network, informal practices can have a cumulative impact because they are part of everyday life and practice [23]McCold, P. and Wachtel, T. (2001). Restorative justice in everyday life. In Braithwaite, J. and Strang, H. (eds) Restorative justice and civil society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. … Continue reading.

    Defining Restorative, Ted Wachtel, IIRP. PCC/ HS

    Key Restorative Questions

    Restorative practice focuses on key questions to facilitate restorative conversations.  The five key restorative questions are

    • What happened?
    • What were you thinking?
    • How did this make people feel?
    • Who else has been affected?
    • What should we do to put things right?
    • How can we do things differently in the future?

    Hopkins [24]Hopkins, B. (2011). The Restorative Classroom: Using Restorative approaches to foster effective learning. London: Jessica Kingsley. sets out the key questions to support restorative enquiry and action (table below).  The questions are exploratory and focused on understanding the experience of the speaker. The themes show how the questions can build restorative conversations, increase mutual understanding for different perspectives, create motivation to change and stimulate family strengths through a solution‐focused and reparative process. 

    ThemeRestorative EnquiryOutcome
    Respect & appreciate individual perspectivesWhat happened?Event from multiple perspectives
    Builds awareness of harm, effect and affect.What were you thinking and feeling?Increased insight and understanding Increased empathy
    Recognise needs of all involvedWho has been affected and how? What do you need for harm to be repaired?Identifying needs to resolve/restore harms
    Accountability, empowerment, problem solvingWhat needs to happen now to make changes?Goal planning
    Table 1 Restorative themes and questions. Adapted from Hopkins 2009 [25]Hopkins, B. (2009). Just Care; Restorative Justice Approaches to Working with Children in Public Care. London: Jessica Kingsley.

    Suggested guide for restorative conversations

    The suggested guide below provides a number of prompts and questions that can be used for a restorative conversation. This includes the five key restorative questions and a specific question on safety too. The social worker will make a professional judgement about the situation and gauge when and how to start a restorative conversation in the context of their work with a family.

    Suggested Questions for Restorative Conversations

    Preparation

    • How do you think a restorative conversation (RC) will be helpful in this situation?
    • What are your thoughts and feelings about using a RC in this situation?
    • What do you need to do to prepare yourself the individual/ family for this?
    • Will you meet with individual family members – separately or together – why?
    • How can you involve the family to plan for RC? (You could ask individuals their thoughts on this)
    • Sometimes there’s no time to plan and you have to think on your feet. The RC below can help to understand and gather the thoughts and feelings of those involved.

    What happened?

    • Tell me about what happened -What happened first, next, last?
    • Tell me about why you think this happened
    • Has this happened before? Does this feel similar to how it has happened before? What was different this time?

    Who has been affected? How did this make people feel?

    • How do you feel about what happened?
    • Who else do you think has been affected by what happened?
    • How do you think they’ve been affected?
    • How were you feeling before, during, and after this happened?
    • How do you think the children feel about this?
    • How do you think the children are affected by this? How are they now?

    What do you need to feel safe?

    • How do you think this situation could be made safer? For you? For the children?
    • How do you think you could feel safer as a family?
    • What do you need to feel safer as a family?
    • What support/ resources do you have right now to feel safe?
    • What other support and resources do you need to feel safe?

    What do you need for the situation to be made better? How can the situation be repaired?

    • How do you want the situation to be sorted out for you?
    • What changes need to happen to repair the situation/harm now? In the future?
    • What steps need to be taken to repair the harm caused?
    • What steps do you need others to take to repair the harm?
    • What support do you need to take these steps?
    • What support / resources do you have right now?
    • What other support and resources do you need?
    • How will you know that the situation is better for you? For the children? As a family?

     Adapted from Restorative Conversations (2020) Practice Toolkit 3.8. Turnaround for Children Toolbox.

    Reflection

    • Read through the suggested guide above
    • What do you think the questions encourage?
    • What kinds of responses do you think you might get?
    • What questions do you feel comfortable/uncomfortable asking in your work?
    •  Why do you think that is?

    Spotlight on recent research

    What research?

    Can we let families speak about domestic violence and abuse (DVA) and listen?

    Recent research was undertaken in a local authority that implemented restorative practice through an extensive system change programme across their children’s social care department and evidenced strong support for restorative practices from families and practitioners (Sehmar forthcoming / unpublished doctoral thesis). This research focused on restorative approaches with families where there is DVA and child protection concerns.

    Why this research?

    DVA continues to be a significant factor in referrals to statutory children’s social care in the UK. Concerns about the child’s parent/carer being the victim of domestic violence and abuse remained the most common factor identified in one third of all child in need assessment information in 2021 [26]Department for Education (2021). Characteristics of children in need: 2020 to 2021. https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/characteristics-of-children-in-need/2021. Previous research has critiqued mother-focussed interventions, the exclusion of fathers and the lack of effective and humane service responses to families living with DVA [27]Humphreys, C. and Absler, D. (2011). History repeating: Child protection responses to domestic violence. Child & Family Social Work, 16(4), 464-473. [28]Featherstone, B., Morris, K. and White, S. (2014). Re-imagining child protection: Towards humane social work with families. Bristol: Policy Press..

    Traditional social work responses to DVA in families have focused on mothers and separating from their violent partner, often regardless of a mother’s preference, circumstances or support available [29]Stanley, N. and Humphreys, C. (2017). Identifying the key components of a ‘whole family ‘intervention for families experiencing domestic violence and abuse. Journal of gender-based … Continue reading [30]Rogers, M. and Parkinson, K. (2018). Exploring approaches to child welfare in contexts of domestic violence and abuse: Family group conferences. Child & Family Social Work, 23(1), 05-112.. While there are situations where separation is absolutely necessary for the safety of women and children, this service response has been used to manage risk. Pressure on mothers to separate can exacerbate unsafe situations post separation as the risk of DVA and domestic homicides increase significantly during this period [31]Radford, L. and Hester, M. (2015). More Than a Mirage? Safe contact for children and young people who have been exposed to domestic violence. In Stanley, N. and Humphreys, C. (eds) Domestic … Continue reading.

    The growing recognition of the inadequacies of a separation response for families affected by DVA and the parallel cost to the public purse, have provided a driver for the development of restorative practices as an alternative approach in the UK (DfE 2014). While there is debate about the use and efficacy of restorative practices in situations of DVA, research points to the reduced use of child protection processes, reduction in the numbers of looked after children, more in family placements and reduction in repeat DVA where FGCs have been used [32]Burford, G. and Hudson, J. (2001). Family group decision making: New directions in community entered child and family practice. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 230, pp.837-847. [33]Mason, P., Ferguson, H., Morris, K., Munton, T. and Sen, R. (2017), Leeds Family Valued evaluation report. Available from: www.assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/ government/uploads/system/uploads/ … Continue reading [34]Pennell, J. and Burford, G. (2002). Making family group conferencing work. Restorative justice and family violence, 108. [35]Sen, R., Morris, K., Burford, G., Featherstone, B. and Webb, C. (2018). ‘When you’re sitting in the room with two people one of whom… has bashed the hell out of the other’: Possibilities … Continue reading [36]Sen, R. and Webb, C. (2019). Exploring the declining rates of state social work intervention in an English local authority using Family Group Conferences. Children and Youth Services … Continue reading.

    What did the research find?

    • There was strong support for restorative practices from families and practitioners.
    • Some families found that they had better relationships with social workers and noticed a positive experience compared to previous contact with social workers in the same local authority before restorative practices were implemented.
    • Some practitioners described a more balanced approach to DVA and risk compared to other local authorities that they had previously worked for.
    • The restorative culture across the service helped practitioners to feel more hopeful in working with DVA by managing risk in partnership with families. 
    • Restorative conversations were embedded in everyday practice for some practitioners. The accumulation of these conversations supported depth in practice and facilitated family motivation and curiosity to seek to problem solve themselves
    • Restorative conversations facilitated high support and high challenge in everyday practice and was sometimes a precursor to families deciding to engage in a formal FGC.
    • While DVA was a key concern and often the reason for referral to social care, it was not the only difficulty that families were experiencing and often not the most significant factor that caused family difficulty. There was often a combination of multiple disadvantages, poverty, mental ill-health, substance use and family stress. This complexity in family lives challenged restorative approaches to support family resolution in the context of DVA.

    What does this mean for practice?

    Restorative practice helped those impacted by DVA to share feelings, make sense of their situations and name relational power contexts within which couples were parenting. In this way, restorative conversations linked to trauma – informed practice and strengthened relationships between social workers and families.  

    There have been more trusting relationships built between families and social workers.

    This time they really took time to understand what I was going through. Like how the violence…how he got in my head and how I was doing best to keep kids safe too…they listened and worked with us, got us help, not threatening us like last time (mother).

    I thought they’d come in and say right you have to go, but they talked to us both and helped us do little things to stop things getting out of hand (father).

    I think it’s made us change our thinking. People (social workers) were quite worn down by DVA, it can become draining because we see it so much and didn’t know what to do. It’s really helped.  I think now we know we’re going in, knowing that these two are going to be seeing each other, still living together, so we’re thinking about how we can assess differently but safely and still have those honest conversations with couples (social work practitioner).

    Restorative practices provide opportunities for whole family, relationship-based, strengths-based approaches. This is a welcome challenge to separation practice and interventionist child protection processes. These are hopeful green shoots signalling movement towards more effective and humane practice with families. 

    References

    References
    1 Wachtel, T. (2016). In pursuit of paradigm: A theory of restorative justice. Available from: https://biblioteca.cejamericas.org/bitstream/handle/2015/2163/paradigm.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
    2 Braithwaite, J. (2000). The new regulatory state and the transformation of criminology. British journal of criminology, 40(2), 222-238.
    3 Zehr, H. (1990). Changing lenses: A new focus for crime and justice. Herald press.
    4, 32 Burford, G. and Hudson, J. (2001). Family group decision making: New directions in community entered child and family practice. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 230, pp.837-847.
    5 Wachtel, T. (2013) Defining Restorative. International Institute for Restorative Practices. Cumbria. Available from: www.kipp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/
    6 The Conflict Centre (2018) The 5 Rs of Restorative Practice. Available from: https://conflictcenter.org/the-5-rs-of-restorative-justice/
    7 Braithwaite, J. (1989). Crime, shame and reintegration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    8 Scheff, T. and Retzinger, S. (2000). Shame and Shaming in Restorative Justice. The Red Feather Journal of Postmodern Criminology. Available from: https://www.critcrim.org/redfeather/journal-pomocrim/vol-8-shaming/scheff.html
    9 Pennell, J., Sanders, T., Rikard, R.V., Shepherd, J. and Starsoneck, L. (2013). Family violence, fathers, and restoring personhood. Restorative Justice1(2), 268-289.
    10, 28 Featherstone, B., Morris, K. and White, S. (2014). Re-imagining child protection: Towards humane social work with families. Bristol: Policy Press.
    11 Philip, G., Clifton, J. and Brandon, M. (2019). The Trouble With Fathers: The Impact of Time and Gendered-Thinking on Working Relationships Between Fathers and Social Workers in Child Protection Practice in England. Journal of Family Issues 40(16), 2288-309.
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