This project has undertaken comparative analysis of the policies and practices that define three modern child welfare systems. Addressing both policy and practice levels of the child welfare system in Norway, England and the U.S., this project will thoroughly discuss four main questions from different angles:
1. What are the ranges of state responsibility and how does the state handle multiculturalism?
2. How are qualified decisions made by child welfare workers, and can they stand up against public scrutiny?
3. What knowledge is considered relevant and valid in the child welfare system?
4. How are children perceived, and are children's views heard and given due weight?
The research methods employed in the projects has been qualitative interviews and vignette surveys. 93 child welfare workers were interviewed in Norway (N=28), England (N=25) and the US (N=40) (California). The vignette survey was sent out to child welfare workers in Norway, England and the US (N=304).
- During 40 interviews with child welfare workers in California (US) two thirds claimed that they faced challenges when it comes undocumented immigrant families (Kriz & Skivenes, 2012)
- Marginalized minority families face different challenges when it comes to raising their children in England, Norway and the US; Cultural differences, language barriers, lack of competence of local communities and different welfare policies (Kriz & Skivenes, 2012)
- Of the three countries, child welfare workers in the US claimed to face the most challenges in regard to multiculturalism (ibid.).
Difference between the three countries
- How the child welfare system assess risk varies (Kriz & Skivenes, 2013; Stenberg & Skivenes, 2013)
- The attitude towards, and the use of adoption as a child welfare measure varies a great deal (Tefre & Skivenes, 2012)
- How Norway and the US helps and supports foster parents varies (Berrick & Skivenes, 2013). Especially when it comes to maternity and/or paternity leave, fiscal support and the foster parent?s socio-economic background (ibid.).
- Child welfare policy in Norway is focused on child welfare and English child welfare is focused on child safety. However, The U.S. focus on safety and preservation (Kriz & Skivenes, 2014).
- Participation is considered important in both Norway, the US and England (N=91). However, the countries all have different definition of what constitutes participation. In the US participation is seen as evidence gathering. In Norway and England participation is seen as decision-making (Kriz & Skivenes). Other studies show that English child welfare has the highest rate of participation compared to Norway and the US.
The importance of ?The Norwegian Child Welfare System in a Comparative Perspective?
Multiculturalism poses a major dilemma in the field of child welfare. The notion of a family has different implications in different countries. Parental demands to raise their children in their own culture, while potentially opposing children?s individual rights, cause major dilemmas in several countries. In the field of child welfare research there has previously been a lack of comparative analysis of how different countries faces these dilemmas. This project has contributed with important cross-national data on the challenges in child welfare caused by multiculturalism.
An important aspect of multiculturalism is that children are perceived differently across the world. The project has contributed with important cross-national knowledge about children?s participation and what constitutes participation in different countries.
This research project will explore and bring insight into the interconnections between child welfare policies and practice. The use of multiple methods, triangulation secures a rich and fulfilling data material about dilemmas and practise on the child pro tection/welfare field. Four main questions will be thoroughly discusses from different angels in this project:
1 What are the ranges of understanding of state responsibility, what do the state protect, provide and which obligations must parents in the ch ild welfare system fulfil, and what are the interpretation of best interest of the child, the family and the society?
2 Are decision-making in the child welfare system qualified and can stand up against public scrutiny? Decision-making in child welfare po licies and practice involves different types of considerations; expert knowledge, beliefs, norms, cultural values, rights, legal norms, etc, and the question is how these different sources are assessed, seen as relevant or not relevant, how are they reaso ned, weighted and balanced against each other in existing politics and in day to day work.
3 Knowledge in policies and practice can be interpreted and used in different ways. We wonder what is considered the problem when a child is at risk and what is con sidered the best way of solving it, e.g. which methods, knowledge and services are preferred and regarded as the best way of realising the aims of the child welfare system?
4 Do politics and practice have a child perspective in mind when considerations a nd decisions are made, and how are children views heard and given due weight in the child welfare system?
On the macro level, we will analyse in depth child welfare policies that are framing and managing the child welfare system in Norway, the US and Engl and. On micro level, we combine a vignette-survey and in-depth interviews of child welfare workers, with analysis of register data and in-dept intervies of child welfare service users (ethnic minority & majorit