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A comparative study of child welfare systems: Abstract orientations and concrete results


  • Gilbert, Neil


A comparative analysis of child welfare systems in 10 countries identifies three broad functional orientations – child protection, family service and child development – around the problem definition, mode of intervention and role of the state: The changes in policies and practices since the mid-1990s suggest the possibility of functional convergence among these systems with moderate versions of the child protection and family service orientations incorporated within the more comprehensive approach of child development. An analysis of administrative data on one important outcome reveals that over the last decade nine of the 10 countries experienced an increasing rate of out-of-home placements. A critical examination of the data illustrates the necessity of determining how the rates are calculated, what is included in these counts and what the numbers signify to fully comprehend the implications of this trend.

Suggested Citation

  • Gilbert, Neil, 2012. "A comparative study of child welfare systems: Abstract orientations and concrete results," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 532-536.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:3:p:532-536
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.10.014

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Esping-Andersen, Gosta, 1999. "Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198742005.
    2. *Unicef, 2007. "Child Poverty in Perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries," Papers inreca07/19, Innocenti Report Card.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bywaters, Paul & Brady, Geraldine & Sparks, Tim & Bos, Elizabeth & Bunting, Lisa & Daniel, Brigid & Featherstone, Brid & Morris, Kate & Scourfield, Jonathan, 2015. "Exploring inequities in child welfare and child protection services: Explaining the ‘inverse intervention law’," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 98-105.
    2. Busschers, Inge & van Vugt, E.S. & Stams, G.J.J.M., 2016. "Case management for child protection services: A multi-level evaluation study," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 169-177.
    3. Venables, Jemma & Healy, Karen & Harrison, Gai, 2015. "From investigation to collaboration: Practitioner perspectives on the transition phase of parental agreements," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 9-16.
    4. Garcia Quiroga, Manuela & Hamilton-Giachritsis, Catherine, 2014. "“In the name of the children”: Public policies for children in out-of-home care in Chile. Historical review, present situation and future challenges," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 422-430.
    5. Adema, Willem, 2012. "Setting the scene: The mix of family policy objectives and packages across the OECD," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 487-498.


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