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International Seminar Series: Prof. John Fluke, Rethinking Child Protection and Child Welfare

Wanneer:do 14-09-2017 16:00 - 17:00
Waar:Room B0126 (Gadourekzaal). Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences

Entrance free. Limited seats. Register by sending an email to

Organized by:

Project HESTIA ( )

Mastertrack Youth0-21 Society and Policy

Internationalization Faculty BSS

Supported by:

NWO Visitors Travel Grant

Prof. John Fluke

Prof. John Fluke is Associate Director of System Research and Evaluation at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect and Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He has over 32 years of experience in social service delivery system research in the area of Child Welfare and Mental Health Services for children. He is internationally recognized as a researcher specializing in assessing, analyzing, and teaching on decision making in human services delivery systems. He is also active in the area of national child maltreatment data collection systems and analysis and has worked with data collection programs in the Balkans, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the US, and for UNICEF. He has conducted research and evaluation at all levels of government within the US, in the private not-for-profit sector, and with national foundations and associations. Within the US government he has been PI for projects with the US Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), and with the US Agency for International Development. Within the US, he has also worked on projects sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Casey Family Services Foundation, and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. He is also known for his innovative and informative research and evaluation work in the areas of child maltreatment prevalence, child welfare administrative data analysis, workload and costing, and performance and outcome measurement for children and family services.

In addition to his affiliation with the University of Colorado, Dr. Fluke is status only Assistant Professor at the Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, and Scholar in Residence at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. The author or co-author of numerous scholarly publications, Dr. Fluke has presented papers at both national and international meetings and conferences. He is co-chair of the Working Group on Child Maltreatment Data Collection for the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN). He holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Decision Science from Union Institute and Universities, an MA in Anthropology from the Pennsylvania State University, and a BA in Mathematical Anthropology from the University of Northern Colorado.


Rethinking Child Protection

When considering the concerns about the organization of informal and formal child protection systems it is helpful to consider that adequate child protection is rarely tied to a single policy concern and that it is ultimately based on the capability of the systems of interventions, the resources that are available, and the decisions about these interventions and resources made by all involved parties including professionals, families, and children. No matter how a case comes to the attention of child protection services (CPS), decision making at the CPS continuum points (intake, assessment, and so on) regulate the flow of families and children into or out of the CPS system. At its core, a basic purpose of the CPS system across the decision making continuum is to protect children from harm, however, the meaning of the concept of harm is surprisingly unclear which has important implications for effective decision making. Almost without exception decision making in child welfare occurs under conditions of risk, but more frequently under conditions of uncertainty. It is generally also acknowledged that decision making errors are inevitable in CPS and at the worst involve situations of severe avoidable maltreatment or even fatalities. The lack of knowledge regarding our understanding of harm and the commission of errors hinders the development of feedback mechanisms that might allow for a better understanding of whether CPS is effective. In the absence of this knowledge research has little to offer concerning the evaluation of overall CPS effectiveness. This presentation makes an argument for altering CPS decision state space in a way that acknowledges and utilizes features of child and family functioning tied more directly to a research based understanding of patterns of long and short and long term harm (Trocme et al. 2014), as well as, improvements in well-being. It is premised on the very basic idea that specific groups or classes of families would benefit from a differentiated continuum of decision processes that can tie them more directly to the evidence based services that would benefit them and their children more optimally. Fundamentally, some families will require very little assistance from both formal and informal systems of child protection, while other families will need continuous intervention for indefinite periods of time; an expectation that is difficult for social policy developers to implement. It assumes that the understanding of safety and wellbeing are grounded in a better evidence base than exists currently, and that decision making in CPS will become more capable of determining probable population level outcomes, and predicting resource needs, rather than being based in uncertainty. It also offers a long term general research framework directed toward changing the CPS decisional state space.