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Care Orders as Successful Interventions: The Social Workers' Point of View

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This article examines the outcomes of care orders from the point of view of social workers. The aim is to cast light on the “black box” of substitute care by analysing the practice-based view on outcome in order to contribute to the complex debate on the relations of care and outcome. The article is based on a study using a survey, focus group data and group discussions gathered in 2011 about children who were taken into care in 2006 in 10 Finnish municipalities. Social workers are the key informants as well as the co-researchers in the research design. The nature of the data is institutional. The analysis focuses on the ways in which outcome and change are addressed in the focus groups and group discussions in particular. Three comparison structures are presented. The results demonstrate that the practice-based view focuses strongly on the existence, likelihood and variation of social problems as comparisons are constantly made in relation to social problems. Social problems as a reference point contribute to the general message of this research that the outcomes of the care order are “good”. The article suggests that social work practice reflects critically on the limitations of the social problem-focused view on outcome and changes in care. It is also argued that in order to highlight the intrapersonal changes in care, the practitioners' knowledge of care outcomes should be given attention. However, other types of knowledge are needed as well.
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Keywords: Care Orders; Comparison Structures; Out-of-home Care; Outcome of Out-of-home Care; Practice-based Knowledge

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 3, 2014

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