Mind the gap: Parental and professional perceptions of ‘risk’ for children living in poverty

Lital Yona*, Yochay Nadan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This article explores the perceptions and constructions of child risk and protection for children growing up in poverty, from the perspective of parents and social workers serving them, in an impoverished neighbourhood in Israel. Of the 50 in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted overall, 35 were with parents and 15 with social workers employed by the neighbourhood's social services department. The analysis yielded three themes: The first focuses on the social services' involvement in the neighbourhood. While social workers viewed the social service agency's location within the neighbourhood as positive, offering the opportunity to build a close relationship with the local population, some parents experienced this proximity as intrusive. The second theme deals with gaps in perceptions of help: Whereas parents felt that they needed material assistance, social workers preferred to offer therapeutic assistance. The third theme relates to the child-at-risk label, with diverging perspectives between social workers and parents regarding the extent to which living in a poor neighbourhood places a family at risk. Our findings highlight the importance of incorporating anti-oppressive and poverty-aware paradigms in social work practice and education.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)582-591
Number of pages10
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • child protection
  • children at risk
  • neoliberalism
  • people living in poverty
  • risk perceptions


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