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The formalized framework for decision-making in child protection care orders: A cross-country analysis


Care orders within the child protection system are some of the most invasive interventions a state can make. This article examines the discretionary space governments set out for child protection workers when they prepare care orders. We analyse the formalized framework for these decisions in England, Finland, Norway and the United States. We focus on knowledge, timelines, how children and parents are involved and accountability. We find that Norway and Finland have highly de-regulated systems with wide discretionary space, whereas England and the United States are highly regulated systems with narrow discretionary space. The United States differentiates itself with relatively little parent and/or child involvement in decision-making. England and Finland do not have defined deadlines for terminating the process, and Norway has few directives on what information to collect. Such differences will influence the quality of decisions as well as the principles of the rule of law.

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