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Disparities in decision-making?

The effects of race, ethnicity, migration background, and gender on child protection decision-making processes
PhD ceremony:dr. F. (Floor) Middel
When:February 02, 2023
Supervisors:M. (Mónica) Lopez Lopez, Dr, prof. dr. H.W.E. (Hans) Grietens, prof. dr. J.D. Fluke
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Disparities in decision-making?

Professionals who are working in the field of child protection make decisions about children and their families on a daily basis. These decisions range from involving family members to deciding what type of child protection interventions seem needed. Consistency in these decisions, implying that cases with similar case facts result in similar decisions, is important. However, previous studies have shown that these decisions are not always consistent and that racial, ethnic, migrant, and gender disparities seem to occur.

In this PhD thesis, Floor Middel investigated racial, ethnic, migrant, and gender disparities in decision-making processes. A quantitative case file study representing over 1,200 child protection investigations showed that migrant and gender disparities seem to occur regarding the involvement of family members. Professionals seem to have more contacts with mothers and girls during child protection investigations. Within the Dutch context, professionals contact migrant parents less frequently. Further, racial/ethnic/migrant and gender disparities seem to occur in decision-making. The decision to refer a case to continuing services seems more likely when a mother or migrant father seems to be the perpetrator of maltreatment. In an experimental vignette study, Middel aimed to investigate whether stereotypes that professionals form about parents can explain disparities. While this study provided evidence for racial/ethnic and gender disparities, it did not confirm that stereotypes result in disparities. However, the study showed that perceptions of morality that professionals form about parents have a distinct impact on decision-making processes.