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Confidentiality in a preventive child welfare system

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Emerging child welfare policies promoting preventive and early intervention services present a challenge to professional ethics, raising questions about how to balance respect for service users with concern for social justice. This article explains how the UK policy involves shifting the balance of power away from families towards State and professional decision-making. The policy is predicated on sharing information between professionals to inform risk and need assessment and so poses a problem for the ethic of confidentiality in a helping relationship. This article examines the arguments for information sharing and questions whether the predicted benefits for children outweigh the cost of eroding family privacy and changing the nature of professional relationships with service users.

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