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Children's involvement in care order decision-making: A cross-country analysis


This international comparative paper examines how child protection workers in four countries, England, Finland, Norway, USA (CA), involve children in decision making regarding involuntary child removal. The analysis is based on 772 workers' responses to a vignette describing preparations for care order proceedings. We examine children's involvement along three dimensions including information given to the child, information gathered from the child, and opportunities for their perspectives and interests to be considered. Results show that child protection workers weigh children's involvement differently based upon age. Staff in the four countries were more likely to talk with an older child, to provide information, to gather information, and to include in relevant decision making if the child were 11 compared to five in our vignette. Although the Nordic countries and England provide policy guidance regarding children's role in child protection decision making, we did not see consistently higher indicators of children's involvement from the respondents in these countries. Using child protection system frames to analyze the findings did not produce consistent differences between the family service systems and child protection systems included in this study. Findings highlight the wide range in practices concerning children's involvement in decision making, and the wide space for professional discretion in implementing practice with children at the local level.

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