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Systemic differences in views on risk: A comparative case vignette study of risk assessment in England, Norway and the United States

Marit Skivenes and Katrin Križ have published an article in Children and Youth Services Review Volume 35, Issue 11, November 2013, Pages 1862–1870.

This article examines how child welfare workers from three countries assess risk to a child in the context of different risk assessment tools, child welfare systems and welfare regimes. Previous research suggests that there are distinct differences between child protection-oriented child welfare systems such as England and the U.S., and family service-oriented child welfare systems such as Norway (Gilbert et al., 2011). We use a case vignette method to analyze how 299 child welfare workers from England, Norway and California (U.S.) assess risk. The case vignette describes the case of ‘Beatrice’, a nine year-old girl of Black African descent who was born with an organic heart disease and a cleft palate. We found that respondents from California assessed the risk to be the lowest, followed by respondents from England and Norway. The risk factors that respondents highlighted as important for their assessment also varied significantly between countries, displaying different perceptions of elements in a case constituting risk. Respondents from Norway, who, comparatively, practice within the context of the least regulated assessment platform, identified the most homogenous assessments and types of reasoning, whereas both the assessment of risk levels and identifications of risk factors were more heterogeneous among workers in England and California. We argue that the different risk assessment tools only partly influence what workers identify as risk factors in a case, and that type of welfare states and child welfare systems is also an influence. This study thus supports existing scholarship on the distinctions between child welfare systems. However, we also found significant differences in perceptions of risk factors between England and the United States.

 

The whole article can be read here