Weighing it up: family maintenance discourses in NGO child protection decision-making in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Examining the concepts underpinning the reasoning processes of social worker's decision-making provides important insights into how social work practice is undertaken. This paper examines one of the major discourses used by social workers in decision reasoning in a non-governmental organization child protection context in Aotearoa/New Zealand: family maintenance. This study found that family maintenance as a concept was strongly privileged by social workers. This resulted in attempts to preserve families and created a hierarchy of preferred decision outcomes. A preference for family maintenance was supported by legal, moral, psychological and Māori cultural concepts. This pattern of constructs underpinned the ‘weighing up of harms’ when considering removal, and generally reflected a child welfare orientation. In addition to this, it was found that ‘family’ was broadly defined, and could include people who had a relationship with the children, or Māori definitions of extended family, in addition to legal ones.
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Rights Statement: © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Keywords: Judgement; child protection; family presentation; child abuse
Research Type: Journal Article
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