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Travels in the Trench Between Child Welfare Theory and Practice examines how the child welfare field’s rush to establish credibility and permanence through program growth during the post World War II era gave rise to a massive but fragile conglomerate unprepared to prove its merits when challenged by an increasingly dubious public. Author George Thomas proposes a broad-based shift from program growth to knowledge-based growth in policy, management, education, research, and information technology initiatives to revitalize performance and restore public confidence in the system.
Thomas’s book proposes to shift the leadership emphasis away from the “big business” flavor of child welfare and re-define it into a mediator role of trusting worker and client competencies. Travels in the Trench Between Child Welfare Theory and Practice shows how the two sides merge and concentrate on five key issues:
This historical and cross-sectional analysis forms a framework proposing that the field’s future value in meeting the nation’s child welfare needs must have a willingness to shift its commitments from problem to competency-oriented theory and practice, to accept a de-emphasis on growth and a reduction in specialization, and to redirect investments in education, research, and information technology. According to Thomas, this enables readers to revitalize practice wisdom, grow the scientifically validated portion of the field’s knowledge base, and begin to restore public confidence in the system.
The book’s contents are presented in interview style to enliven the material and make it more accessible to a wide audience. The reader determines the sense and direction of the analysis and the appropriateness of the questions from which it flows. Travels in the Trenches is intended to promote critical analysis of the link between long range vision and its impact on daily practice.