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Social work and child welfare politics

Social work and child welfare politics: Through Nordic lenses

Hannele Forsberg
Teppo Kröger
Copyright Date: 2010
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  • Book Info
    Social work and child welfare politics
    Book Description:

    Children and families are at the heart of social work all over the world, but, until now Nordic perspectives have been rare in the body of English-language child welfare literature. Is there something that makes child welfare ideas and practices that are in use in the Nordic countries characteristically 'Nordic'? If so, what kinds of challenges do the current globalization trends pose for Nordic child welfare practices, especially for social work with children and families? Covering a broad range of child welfare issues, this edited collection provides examples of Nordic approaches to child welfare, looking at differences between Nordic states as well as the similarities. It considers, and critically examines, the particular features of the Nordic welfare model - including universal social care services that are available to all citizens and family policies that promote equality and individuality - as a resource for social work with children and families. Drawing on contemporary research and debates from different Nordic countries, the book examines how social work and child welfare politics are produced and challenged as both global and local ideas and practices. Social work and child welfare politics is aimed at academics and researchers in social work, childhood studies, children's policy and social policy, as well as social work practitioners, policy makers and service providers, all over the world who are interested in Nordic experiences of providing care and welfare for families with children.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-407-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. List of tables
    (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Notes on contributors
    (pp. v-viii)
  5. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)
    Hannele Forsberg and Teppo Kröger

    In international comparisons the Nordic countries – Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland – are often described as child-centred welfare paradises for children (see, for example, Haavind and Magnusson, 2005; James and James, 2008, pp 1-2). Researchers have pointed out that there is a specific tradition of welfare state support for families with children in this region, which is characterised by comprehensiveness, generosity, universalism, gender equality and egalitarianism (for example, Björnberg, 1999; Sainsbury, 1999; Hiilamo, 2002, 2007; Ellingsæter and Leira, 2006). The paradise image is strengthened by empirical findings from international studies that have shown, for example, child poverty to...

  6. TWO Nordic family policies: constructing contexts for social work with families
    (pp. 11-28)
    Guðný Björk Eydal and Teppo Kröger

    The aim of this chapter is to provide a context for the other chapters of this book – to give a policy background for detailed analysis of Nordic child welfare social work practices. Social work is not practised in a societal vacuum. In order to understand social work practices, it is useful to know the main features of family law and family structures in the five countries as well as the general economic and social situation of families with children. Furthermore, family policies – which we understand here to include policies on childhood – form the context where social work...

  7. THREE A Nordic model in child welfare?
    (pp. 29-46)
    Helena Blomberg, Clary Corander, Christian Kroll, Anna Meeuwisse, Roberto Scaramuzzino and Hans Swärd

    The aim of this chapter is to capture similarities and variations in the performance of child welfare through a comparative Nordic approach. Child welfare is chosen because it is historically one of the core areas of social work and because the work presupposes considerations of a wide range of problems: for example, family relations, abuse, poverty, addiction and ‘immigrant problems’.

    The chapter will provide new perspectives on the discussion on whether the welfare model thinking is producing good results in the case of child welfare services in the Nordic countries, as well as general reflections on methodological issues in comparative...

  8. FOUR From welfare to illfare: public concern for Finnish childhood
    (pp. 47-64)
    Hannele Forsberg and Aino Ritala-Koskinen

    In this chapter attention is focused onchanging cultural ideasand understandings of the quality of childhood in one Nordic national case context, Finland. By examining the emergence of a new concept, ‘illfare of children’, in the public discussion and child welfare politics, we complement the traditional structural and institutional levels of analysis of welfare models, policies and practices. The approach on studying ideas explaining how welfare politics change has grown in popularity in social sciences, especially during recent politically and financially volatile times (for example, Björklund, 2008). Analysing the dominant concepts, ideas or discourses of welfare debate in any...

  9. FIVE Supporting families: the role of family work in child welfare
    (pp. 65-82)
    Marjo Kuronen and Pia Lahtinen

    In Finland, for the last 10 to 15 years, there has been increasing interest and investment in so-called family work in the field of child welfare. In spite of the extensive family policy in Finland and in the other Nordic countries providing universal financial support and social and health services for parents and children (for example, Ellingsæter and Leira, 2006; Eydal and Kröger, this volume), there is a growing concern that universal family policy measures are not enough. It is emphasised that families need more specific and targeted support in parenting and taking care of their children.

    Related to the...

  10. SIX Family-focused social work: professional challenges of the 21st century
    (pp. 83-96)
    Sigrún Júlíusdóttir

    This chapter is written from the historical and professional point of view of family social work development. Although based mainly on research on, working with and teaching about families in Iceland, the perspectives are integrated with experiences from the other Nordic countries and the US. The ideological roots of the pioneers working for the benefit of families and children’s welfare on different levels are looked at. The relevance of preserving the original spirit of the holistic approach when working for contemporary psychosocial welfare is highlighted. In the perspective of the earlier, conflicting dualism of client-centred practice versus theory development, it...

  11. SEVEN In the best interest of the child? Contradictions and tensions in social work
    (pp. 97-112)
    Reidun Follesø and Kate Mevik

    One of the main objectives of the Child Welfare Services is to give children and families help and support that results in lasting positive changes in their lives. To achieve this, we need continually to develop the knowledge-base of children’s services. This means we need research informed methods and practice tools that provide evidence of good outcomes … [In Norway] the family is used as a resource through family counselling and we have achieved new methods in the Child Welfare Services. We participate in creating an equable and knowledge-based child service across the whole country. We are going to accomplish...

  12. EIGHT Children in families receiving financial welfare assistance: visible or invisible?
    (pp. 113-128)
    Inger Marii Tronvoll

    This chapter discusses how social workers from social welfare and child protection services can contribute more actively to helping children in poor families. A Norwegian study of living conditions for families with low income concluded that social welfare and child protection services should be able to identify the needs of children in these families, and to provide help in a flexible and non-stigmatising manner (Sandbæk, 2004). There is an increasing recognition that children are active subjects in their own lives, and that understanding of their experiences and coping strategies is important for understanding their existence (James et al, 1998; Sommer,...

  13. NINE Listening to children’s experiences of being participant witnesses to domestic violence
    (pp. 129-146)
    Margareta Hydén

    The notion that it is harmful for children to be exposed to violence growing up in a family in which mum is beaten has received increased attention during the past decade. Studies from the US estimate the numbers of children exposed to some form of physical violence between their parents during their childhood ranges from 20% (Henning et al, 1996) to 37% (Holden et al, 1998).

    In a review article, Edleson (1999) presents 84 studies describing psychological and developmental difficulties among children witnessing violence in the home. The children show significantly more signs of uneasiness, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and...

  14. TEN Now you see them – now you don’t: institutions in child protection policy
    (pp. 147-160)
    Tuija Eronen, Riitta Laakso and Tarja Pösö

    In Finland, residential institutions for children began to be separated from those for adults at the end of the 19th century and their number began to grow. Gradually they acquired a strong, though by no means uncontested, position in Finnish society and child protection. Institutions began to dominate social welfare in general. From the 1960s onwards, however, it was increasingly criticised for being too focused on institutions and, since then, the ideal forms of care and nursing have been considered to be situated primarily outside residential facilities (Eriksson, 1967; Savio, 1989). At the moment, however, a fairly high number of...

  15. ELEVEN Epilogue: on developing empowering child welfare systems and the welfare research needed to create them
    (pp. 161-170)
    Keith Pringle

    In this concluding chapter, my aim is not to summarise, or indeed synthesise, what has gone before. Instead, inspired by some of the major themes within the preceding chapters of the book, I will seek to outline what I see as four major future challenges facing research, policy and practice in the field of child and family social work, not only in the Nordic countries but also beyond. These are vital if we wish to create what might be regarded as truly empowering welfare systems for those living within them.

    I undertake this task as an ‘insider/outsider’ within the Nordic...

  16. References
    (pp. 171-200)
  17. Index
    (pp. 201-206)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 207-208)