The primary aim of this study is to explore how child welfare services (CWS) can be designed to create the best possible collaborations with parents. The project is interdisciplinary and will explore the potential for improvements in CWS practice by applying research through design methodology.
In Norway, child welfare services (CWS) come into contact with about 5% of children. When concerned about a child, their measures most often target the parents' care-taking practice. The aim is to alter how parents care for their children through parenting guidance or different parenting programs. The parents are, in other words, the primary agent of change for the best interest of the child. In addition, parents are most often the ones who know their children best, which makes CWS dependent on the parents' rapport in their consideration of the needs of a given child. These facts make CWS reliant on an efficient collaboration with the parents to work in the child's best interest. Despite this dependency, the partnership between the CWS and parents can be full of conflict, ambivalence, and disagreement. Previous research has not given clear answers to how it can be enhanced. Because of this, Bærum Municipality wants to work on a three-year research project to explore how CWS can work to create the best possible collaborations with parents.
To do this, we will use design methods to develop new practices. In recent years, the public sector has increasingly used service design approaches in development and innovation efforts. Research from the study will shed light on how service and systemic design can improve practice within a complex service. The project's final research outputs will consist of new knowledge about the collaboration between CWS and its users, the designed service practices, and lessons learned from designing them.
The meeting between the child welfare service (CWS) and parents can be full of conflict, ambivalence, and disagreement. This 3-year project will explore how design frameworks can develop practices that enhance collaboration between the CWS in Bærum and parents. The project will use research through design methodology and apply a design process of iterations between understanding, defining, conceiving, building, and prototyping practices on systems-, service- and case levels. This will be done using mixed methods with a team in the child welfare service, who will also obtain insight from users. The candidate will facilitate the design processes and present results and lessons learned from it as an ethnographic case study. The project's final research outputs will consist of new knowledge about the collaboration between CWS and its users, the designed service practices, and lessons learned from designing them.
Service design approaches are increasingly used in development- and innovation efforts in both the private and public sectors. This project has several secondary objectives that will explore how such strategies can be refined. In particular, the project will explore how knowledge and concepts from social studies, design, and clinical psychology intertwine and complement each other to refine conceptual frameworks and practices. Such interdisciplinary crossovers will be explored by embedding theories and concepts from clinical psychology in the design process. The insights from this will be potential peer-reviewed articles from the project. Due to the project's interdisciplinary nature, journals related to social welfare, service design, and systems psychology research are relevant for publication.