This paper provides a critical commentary on researching social work in transition to make the case for why history is important at crucial moments of change. The present transition of child protection and welfare practice from a Health Services Executive Structure to an Independent Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is focused on for illustration. This development signifies a major transition of services within the country influenced by a number of factors, most notably a number of high profile cases of child abuse within institutions in the past and child deaths/neglect cases in the present. In particular, a discourse of prevention, early intervention and the promotion of children's rights are most dominant in light of a quest to purge the mistakes of the past. Supported by a history of the present approach, the author argues that while the existence of a discursive shift' typified by the establishment of an independent agency is arguably conclusive, the evidence of changes in practice, culture and underpinning analytical approaches is much more vague and complex. The paper concludes with reflections on implications for a wider European and global context and a call for the need for more critically informed approaches to history to inform present transformations.