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Open AccessArticle

Current Debates on Variability in Child Welfare Decision-Making: A Selected Literature Review

Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, Aotearoa, New Zealand
Soc. Sci. 2014, 3(4), 916-940;
Received: 28 September 2014 / Revised: 11 November 2014 / Accepted: 12 November 2014 / Published: 19 November 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Developments in Child Protection)
PDF [236 KB, uploaded 19 November 2014]


This article considers selected drivers of decision variability in child welfare decision-making and explores current debates in relation to these drivers. Covering the related influences of national orientation, risk and responsibility, inequality and poverty, evidence-based practice, constructions of abuse and its causes, domestic violence and cognitive processes, it discusses the literature in regards to how each of these influences decision variability. It situates these debates in relation to the ethical issue of variability and the equity issues that variability raises. I propose that despite the ecological complexity that drives decision variability, that improving internal (within-country) decision consistency is still a valid goal. It may be that the use of annotated case examples, kind learning systems, and continued commitments to the social justice issues of inequality and individualisation can contribute to this goal. View Full-Text
Keywords: child welfare; decision-making; risk; practice; orientations child welfare; decision-making; risk; practice; orientations
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Keddell, E. Current Debates on Variability in Child Welfare Decision-Making: A Selected Literature Review. Soc. Sci. 2014, 3, 916-940.

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