Journal Article

Child Protection Practitioners and Decision-Making Tools: Observations and Reflections from the Front Line

Philip Gillingham and Cathy Humphreys

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 8, pages 2598-2616
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online December 2009 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcp155
Child Protection Practitioners and Decision-Making Tools: Observations and Reflections from the Front Line

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Decision-making tools, particularly risk-assessment tools, have been implemented by governments around the world, perhaps most notably in the field of child protection, though little attention has been paid to how practitioners use them. This article presents the findings from ethnographic research that explored how child protection practitioners in the Department of Child Safety, Queensland, Australia, used four Structured Decision Making tools developed by the Children's Research Centre in Wisconsin in their daily practice in the intake and investigation stages of a case. The findings that the tools were not being used as intended by their designers and, in fact, tended to undermine the development of expertise by child protection workers has profound implications for the future development of technological approaches to child protection and, more broadly, human services practice.

Keywords: Risk assessment; Structured Decision Making; child protection; ICT

Journal Article.  7134 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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