Dear readers,

The collection of articles in the issue is not thematically unified. The common denominator of the papers, however, seems to be the authors‘ beliefs in the key importance of research in improving the quality of social work practice. They understand the role of research in social work in varied ways.

Pavel Zikl, Aneta Marková, Michal Nesládek, Petra Bendová, Ivana Havránková, Adéla Mojžíšová, Radka Prázdná, and Zuzana Truhlářová in their article give an example of research documenting unknown phenomena and their influence on social work practice. It presents the results of a qualitative pilot research that investigates the impact COVID-19 had on selected types of services for people with disabilities. The research uncovers pandemicdriven changes in provided services, routinein fa cilities and financing, as well as those identified on the side of clients and staff.

The critical nature of social work research links the next two articles. Libor Musil raises the issue of participation of users in the planning and delivery of services offered to them. He introduces the concept of Policies by People with Intellectual Disabilities (PID), by which term he refers “to the agency and ability of people with the stigma of intellectual or learning disabilities to take an independent direction and act as sovereign entities in promoting their opportunities”. The study explores action plans adopted by actors promoting opportunities for PID in a selected local community. The two of them are examined in the article as well as the analogy between them and the features of street-level policies by Lipsky (1980).

The latter constitutes a theoretical inspiration for research by Barbora Gřundělová. In her article based on qualitative research conducted within selected branches of the Labour Office of the Czech Republic, she seeks to understand both participants‘ experiential knowledge about implementation of activation policy and the extent to which this policy has proved to be a tool for combating poverty and social exclusion. The research uncovers how activation policy could act on the contrary and contribute to deepening of poverty and social exclusion.

The diagnostic role of the research is exemplified in the next two articles. The first, by Tetiana Chechko, Tetiana Liakh, Tetiana Spirina, Maryna Lekholetova, Svitlana Sapiha, and Karina Salata diagnoses the needs of parents of children with disabilities in preschool education institutions in Ukraine. In result of their research based on interviews with parents, they named and described the unmet needs in their daily care and upbringing of their children. The radical change of the context does not seem to outdate the results of the study. However, the scope of addressees is expanding. Considering the number of war refugees, we, as organizers of social and educational services in hosting countries should look at this diagnosis with special interest.

The study by Victor Otieno Okech, Monika Mačkinová, Pavol Kopinec, and Barbara Nowak seeks to measure the quantity and quality of stimulants available in caregiving environment of children with behavioural problems. Drawing on the bioecological model developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner, it identifies the range of factors that make up the ”home environment“ and measures their impact on the children‘s development. The picture emerging out of the research is positive as most homes provided to their children, stimulants promoting their development, except for setting emotional climate. The latter outlines the scope of changes needed in social work addressed to that category of service users.

Kateřina Glumbíková, Marek Mikulec, Veronika Mia Zegzulková, Kristina Wilamová, Ivana Kowaliková, and Lenka Caletková in their article uncover the resilience in interactions between siblings experiencing the crisis of homelessness. The qualitative research allowed researchers to capture and describe a complex picture of children‘s needs ”from within“ perspective and enhance reflection on the strength-based social work to help families overcome such crisis and, above all, on systemic changes that prevent circumstances generating such strengths.

Resilient factors in social workers as representatives of the profession particularly vulnerable to burn-out are captured in the article by Monika Punová, Denisa Kreuzziegerová, Pavel Navrátil. Against the background of an extensive discourse of hardships experienced by social workers in daily routine, the authors empower a positive narrative of social work as a profession generating and multiplying protective factors within the context of their own environment.

Two studies contribute to professionalization of social work. Sizikova Valeria and Anikeeva Olga share with us some effects of a large-scale quantitative research aiming to “analyse the impact of the development and professional and educational standard implementation on the education integration and the labour market in social work” as well as “identify risks and barriers in the application of professional and educational standards”. Contrary to previous research on standardization that had focused on the value aspects of the profession, its social significance, the research takes the form of a “holistic study of the labour functions and labour actions of specialists of different levels”.

The article by Eva Grey, based on the comparative qualitative study of the position and tasks of a social worker in a multidisciplinary team in hospices care in the Czech Republic and Slovakia identifies the determinants of similarities and differences in social workers’ position and employment in that field. The main finding indicates insufficient recognition of social work in Slovak health care law and adds to the discourse of the structural barriers in social work professionalization.

I hope you find this edition of the Journal inspirational for new topics and new questions posed in your future research.

Anita Gulczyńska
editor of the issue

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