Assessment in Child Protection

social workers' voices in England and Norway

  • Vibeke Samsonsen
  • Elisabeth Willumsen
Keywords: Accountability, assessment model, Child Protection, England-Norway, professional judgment, social workers


Good quality assessment in Child Protection is crucial to ensure adequate protection and provision. This article explores social workers` experiences with two different Child Protection assessment models: the “professional judgment model”, exemplified by Norway, and the “structured assessment model”, exemplified by England. The aim is to explore the experiences of social workers who carry out assessments in England and Norway, and compare and discuss these experiences in light of “accountability” theory.

Author Biographies

Vibeke Samsonsen

Research Fellow
University of Stavanger

Elisabeth Willumsen

University of Stavanger


Baistow, K. (2000). Cross-national research: What can we learn from Inter-country Comparisons? Social Work in Europe 7(3),8-12.

Bochel, H., Bochel, C, Page, R., & Sykes, R. (2009). Social Policy. Themes, Issues and Debates. Pearson.

Broadhurst, K., Hall, C., Wastell, D., White, S., & Pithouse, A. (2010). “Risk, Instrumentalism and the humane project in Social Work: Identifying the informal logics of risk management in children’s statutory services. British Journal of Social Work, Vol. 40, 1046-1064.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Quantitative Research in Psychology, 3 (2). pp. 77-101.

Bunkholdt, V., & Sandbæk, M. (2008). Practical Child Protection Work. Gyldendal Akademiske.

Cameron, G., & Freymond, N. (2006). Understanding international comparisons of child protection, family services and community caring systems of child and family welfare: Towards Positive Systems of Child and Family Welfare. pp. 3-
27. University of Toronto Press.

Child Welfare Act (1993).

Christiansen, Ø. (2011). Children in out of home placements. PhD University of Bergen.

Carpenter, J., Webb, C. M, & Bostock, L. (2013). The surprisingly weak evidence for supervision: Findings from a systematic review of research in child welfare practice (2000-2012). Children and Youth Services Review 35. pp 1843-1853.

Department of Health (2000a). Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and Their Families. London: Department of Health.

English, D .J., & Pecora, P. J. (1994). Risk assessment as a practice method in child protective services. Child Welfare 73(5),451-473.

Gangdal, J. (2010). Jeg tenker nok du skjønner det sjøl. Historien om Kristoffer. Kagge publishing.

Gilbert, N., Parton, N., & Skivenes, M. (2011). Child protection systems: International trends and emerging orientations. New York: Oxford Press.

Green, D. A. (2008). When Children Kill Children. Oxford University Press.

Hanssen, H., Humerfeldt, K., Kjellevold, A., Norheim, A., & Sommerseth, R. (2010). Professional judgment and service user participation. Norway: Fagbokforlaget.

Holland, S. (2010). Child and Family Assessment in Social Work Practice. Sage Publications.

Kane, A. (2006). Child Protection in Norway and England. Report 2006/3, Høgskolen in Harstad.

Khoo, E. G. (2004). Protecting our children: A comparative study of the dynamics in structure, intervention and their interplay in Swedish child welfare and Canadian child protection. Umeå university, Umeå.

Kirton, D. (2009). Child Social Work Policy and Practice. Sage Publications. Kvello, Ø. (2010). Children at risk. Norway: Gyldendal.

Molander, A., Grimen, H., & Eriksen, E. O. (2012). Professional Discretion and Accountability in the Welfare State. Journal of Applied Philosophy, Vol. 29, No. 3.

Molander, A., & Smeby, J-C. (Eds.) (2013). Professional studies 2. Norway: Universitetsforlaget.

Mulgan, R. (2003). Holding power to account. Accountability in modern democracies. Houndmills: Palgrave.

Munro, E. (2011). The Munro Review of Child Protection: Final Report. A Child- Centred system. Department of Education, London.

NOU 2000:12: Child Protection in Norway.

Osborne, S. P. (2002). Public management. Critical perspectives. Routledge. Parton, N. (2012). The Munro Review of Child Protection: An Appraisal. Children and Society Vol. 26. Pp. 150-162.

Parton, N., Thorpe, D., & Wattam, C. (1997). Child Protection: Risk and the Moral Order. Maximillian Publishers.

Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods. Sage Publications. Ragin, C. (1994). Constructing social research. Pine Forge Press. Report of Auditor General of Norway: Document 3:15 (2011-2012). Norway: Fagbokforlaget.

Rothstein, B. (1998). Just Institutions Matter: The Moral and Political Logic of the Universal Welfare State. Cambridge University Press.

Simon, C. A., & Ward, S. (2010). Does Every Child Matter? Routledge. SSB: Statistics Norway,

Stang Dahl, T. (1978). Child Protection and Protecting Society. PhD,University of Oslo.

Stewart, A., & Thompson, C. (2004). Comparative Evaluation and Child Protection Assessment Tools. Queensland: Griffith University.

Studsrød, I., Willumsen E., & Ellingsen, I. (2012). Parets` perception of contact with the Norwegian Child Welfare Services. Child & Family Social Work.

Sæbønes, A.-M. (2006). Helsen til barnevernsbarn krever samarbeid (The health of child welfare children require collaboration). Tidskrift for den Norske Lægeforening, 126-129.

The Laming Report (2003). Official Document, government UK.

Turney, D., Platt, D., Selwyn, J., & Farmer, E. (2012). Improving Child and Family Assessments. Turning Research into Practice. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, New Series, Vol. 185, No. 4157 pp. 1124-1131.

Uggerhøj, L. (2011). To be assessed. Norway: Universitetsforlaget.
How to Cite
Samsonsen, V., & Willumsen, E. (2014). Assessment in Child Protection: social workers’ voices in England and Norway. Journal of Comparative Social Work, 9(1), 59 - 92.
  • Abstract 778
  • PDF 515