Parents' involvement in care order decisions: a cross-country study of front-line practice

Jill Berrick, Jonathan Dickens, Tarja Poso, Marit Skivenes

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15 Citations (Scopus)
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This article examines parents’ involvement in care order decision-making in four countries at one particular point in the care order process, namely when the child protection worker discusses with the parents his/her considerations regarding child removal. The countries represent different child welfare systems with Norway and Finland categorized as ‘family service systems’ and the US as a ‘child protection system’, with England somewhere in between. The focus is on whether the forms and intensity of involvement are different in these four countries, and whether the system orientation towards family services or child protection influences practice in the social welfare agencies with parents. Involvement is studied in terms of providing information to parents, collecting information from parents and ensuring inclusion in the decision-making processes. A vignette method is employed in a survey with 768 responses from child protection workers in four countries. The findings do not show a consistent pattern of difference regarding parental involvement in care order preparations that align with the type of child welfare system in which staff work. The goal in each child welfare system is to include parents, but the precise ways in which it is done (or not) vary. Methodological suggestions are given for further studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626–637
Number of pages12
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number2
Early online date22 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • child protection
  • decision-making
  • comparative child welfare
  • care orders
  • vignettes

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