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Decision-Making within a Child's Timeframe: a response

Date:20 AUG 2013

Harriet Ward and Rebecca Brown

Decision-Making within a Child's Timeframe (Ward and Brown, 2012, cwrc.ac.uk) was commissioned in response to the Family Justice Review recommendation for consistent training and development for family justice professionals including greater emphasis on child development. It is a summary of recent research designed to provide up to date material regarding the impact of adversity on child development and the likely outcome for the child.

A number of unpublished papers have been widely circulated that question the value of this research overview. Their arguments are summarised by Lloyd Jones in the August edition of Family Law. This paper is a response. We argue that the critiques of Brown and Ward misrepresent our methodology, the research findings and our account of them and make selective use of evidence in an attempt to prove the authors' case - that the neurobiological evidence concerning the impact of abuse and neglect on early childhood development is too weak and too flawed to provide a sufficient basis for policy and practice. We are aware that research can be misused and misinterpreted to support ideologically driven policy, but the authors' attempts to discredit the evidence base and our attempts to make it accessible to family justice professionals is no solution and could have detrimental consequences for children's wellbeing.  

The full version of this article appears in the September 2013 issue of Family Law.