Effective and efficient collaboration requires that all stakeholders are aware of what factors comprise and influence collaborative communication skills. As such, this includes an awareness of an important factor such as conflict, which often arises during decision making processes involving an assortment of stakeholders (Bronstein, 2003). It is clear from empirical literature that social problems and professional services to clients necessitate collaboration across human service disciplines (Scottish Executive, 2004). Different approaches to problem-solving, defining concepts and determining priorities can result in conflict, misunderstandings, political and personal agendas that can either impede or positively contribute to the welfare and protection of children with specific psycho-social needs.
In recent years deaths of children in care have lead to the decision to make radical changes to policy and practices of social work practices in child protection. For example, the death of Kelly Macfarlane of Scotland by her mum's partner is just one case that has prompted the review of the child protection system in Scotland (Kendrick, 2004; Hammond, 2001). Macfalane's death highlighted the critical need for evaluation of inter-professional communication channels, as well as the apparent deficiencies within clinical and professional practices of social workers and other human service workers in the child protection system. Following a review, McFarlane's death was determined to have been avoidable and that numerous opportunities to not only identify risks to the child's safety, but also for intervention to take place, were not taken up by agencies involved Scotland (Kendrick, 2004). Overall it was determined that the lack of communication between agencies, including social workers, had negated a formal child protection investigation from being initiated in the McFarlane case.
New and inexperienced social workers are not the only personal to not have developed their collaborative communication skills with other agencies, as well as their coworkers within their own department (Esley, 2002). The goal of this paper is to highlight the potential for social workers to collaborate effectively with each other and other agencies to develop better aligned policies and best practices. It will be highlighted that networking between agencies and within social work departments will build sincere partnerships to provide better planning and provision of care, as well of knowledge of better service development and research.
The following paper will discuss the critical issue of effective inter-professional communication to the practice of social work in the field of child welfare and protection. Firstly, the methodology for this paper will be outlined, including ethical considerations. Secondly, a review of the literature will be presented to identify the importance of conflict to inter-agency problem-solving and service