Parents' involvement in care order decisions: a cross-country study of front-line practice
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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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 or her considerations regarding child removal. The countries represent different child welfare systems with Norway and Finland categorized as ‘family service systems’ and the USA 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 carried out (or not) vary. Methodological suggestions are given for further studies.