Rationales provided for placement decisions by Dutch professionals and students

Bartelink, C., Knorth, E. J., Koopmans, A. C., López López, M., Witteman, C. L. M., Ten Berge, I. J. & Van Yperen, T. A., 3-Oct-2017. 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

Objectives - Out-of-home placement is a major occurrence in a child’s life. It can have both positive and negative effects on a child’s development and should therefore always be based on careful decision making. Repeatedly, researchers show that professionals make different placement decisions. Work experience and attitude seem to influence the decisions. We investigated the decisions of professionals and students more in depth by studying the rationales for their placement decisions. We are interested in the characteristics of these rationales and their influence on decision-making. Further, we studied the impact of welfare attitudes and work experience on rationales and decisions.
Method - A sample of 595 professionals and students was presented with a vignette of alleged child maltreatment. They were asked to determine whether maltreatment was substantiated, to assess risk, and to recommend whether or not to place the child into out-of-home care. Subsequently, participants provided rationales for their recommendation. Rationales were coded to be able to study them quantitatively.
Results - Participants mentioned a broad range of arguments to support their intervention recommendation. About half of the participants mentioned an argument that had to do with the parenting situation (i.e. parenting skills, parent-child relationship, physical injury, neglect, emotional maltreatment, or safety in the family) and about a quarter mentioned the child’s current and future development. No differences were found between students and professionals. Attitudes seemed to influence the rationales.
Conclusions - The content of the rationales was limited; participants did not provide sophisticated rationales and did not mention important aspects of the vignette. Professional training is recommended to help child protection workers to reach more explicit reasoning, i.e. “critical thinking”. Workers need to be more clear about the conclusions they draw, and especially how they make a case for their decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 3-Oct-2017
Event15th ISPCAN European Regional Conference - World Forum, Den Haag, Netherlands
Duration: 1-Oct-20174-Oct-2017
Conference number: 15


Conference15th ISPCAN European Regional Conference
Abbreviated titleISPCAN European Conference
CityDen Haag
Internet address


15th ISPCAN European Regional Conference


Den Haag, Netherlands

Event: Conference

ID: 46069068