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Book Project: Child Welfare Systems and Migrant Families

This book project compares the work of child welfare systems with migrant families in eleven countries with different child welfare philosophies, histories and migration contexts: Austria, Australia, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the UK and the United States.

Eds. Barn, Križ ,Pösö, and Skivenes

By comparing policies and practices in child welfare systems, especially in terms of how child welfare systems conceptualize and deal with migrant children and children of migrant parents, we address an immensely important and pressing issue in modern, globalizing societies.

Migrant families in the child welfare system are a critical issue and seem to face serious challenges that are evident across countries. These are challenges related to language proficiency, knowledge about cultural and social aspects and about the public systems of the destination country.

Project description

Migrant children in the child welfare system are a critical issue and they seem to face serious challenges that are evident across countries. These are challenges related to lack of language proficiency, lack of knowledge about cultural and social aspects and about the public systems of the destination country.

Perhaps most relevantly, the challenges may include collisions of ideas and beliefs about how to raise children, about children’s place in the family and society, and about children’s rights. 

The aim of this research study is to examine where, why and to what extent migrant children are represented in the child welfare system in eleven different countries. These countries include Austria, Australia, England, Estonia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy,  the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and the United States - all of them having different child welfare philosophies and systems as well as histories and practices in relation to migration.

By comparing policies and practices in child welfare systems, especially in terms of how child welfare systems conceptualize and deal with migrant children and children of migrant parents, we address an immensely important and pressing issue in modern, globalizing societies.

Research questions

Each individual chapter of the book will address the following topics and questions:

(1)  Law and policy: To what degree are migrant children a focus of governmental policies? What critical issues do law and public policy outline in terms of migrant children?  How do law and policy define problems and solutions? 

(2)  Organization: How are child welfare agencies organized to practice with migrant families?  For instance, are there specific units working with migrant families?

(3)  Training: How are frontline child welfare workers trained in working with migrant service users?  Are they trained in culturally sensitive and/or anti-oppressive practice?

(4)  Representation of migrant children: Are migrant children overrepresented or underrepresented in the child welfare system compared to non-migrant children?  Who exactly are the migrant children who are represented in the child welfare system (ie in terms of ethnicity, country of origin, first or second-generation status, etc.)?  What are the types of risks and problems of the children of migrant families who have entered the child welfare system?

(5)  Practice: How do child welfare workers actually practice with migrants in different systems? 

Survey

In each country, we aim at surveying about 100 child welfare workers who have experience working with migrant families. By employing case vignettes, we are seeking to explore child welfare workers’ perceptions of problems and possible solutions in cases involving children of migrant families. The same survey will be undertaken in all eleven countries. This will provide unique comparative data giving us first-hand feedback from the frontline child welfare workers who are in the midst of handling dilemmas and challenges raised by migration.

The survey will be distributed through the on-line survey tool Questback. The survey answers are anonymous. Questback’s handling of anonymity is described in the link below: 

http://www1.questback.com/index.php?id=866&no_cache=1&sword_list[0]=privacy

The survey is reported to the Privacy Ombudsman of the Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD) with project number 30532 and title: Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System, dated May 16th 2012.  The Privacy Ombudsman has considered that the treatment of data meets the requirements of the Personal Data Act, and that the processing of personal data can be started.