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Pålsson, D., Andersson, P., Shanks, E. & Viklund, S. (2023). A professional field? Educational attainments, gender and age among staff in Swedish residential care. Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 40(4), 497-516
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A professional field? Educational attainments, gender and age among staff in Swedish residential care
2023 (English)In: Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, ISSN 0886-571X, E-ISSN 1541-0358, Vol. 40, no 4, p. 497-516Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, we discuss residential staff in Sweden. Here, residential care is part of the municipal child welfare system, which covers services targeting juvenile delinquency as well as other residential care services. Children and young people placed in Swedish residential care have diverse needs, from mainly supportive needs to advanced behavioral problems, and the field consists of open and secure residential care units. There is limited knowledge about the staff working in residential care. This article helps to fill this knowledge gap by giving an overall picture of staff educational attainments, age and gender in Swedish residential care between the years of 2008–2020. To reason about staff qualifications, we use theoretical concepts from sociological theory on professions. Findings show that residential care in Sweden can be analyzed as a pre- professional field, dominated by staff with low levels of educa-tion. In addition, we show that the field is dominated by women – even if the proportion of men is higher than in other areas of social work – and that the majority of staff are between 30 and 64 years old. Some differences between open and secure residential care were found, the most notable concerning edu-cational levels and gender.

Keywords
Residential care, residential staff, staff qualifications, Sweden
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-219826 (URN)10.1080/0886571X.2023.2241361 (DOI)001041394100001 ()2-s2.0-85166776314 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2023-08-02 Created: 2023-08-02 Last updated: 2023-11-17Bibliographically approved
Steive, K., Tham, P., Wiklund, S., Grell, P. & Kåreholt, I. (2023). Social work in an assembly line? The development of specialisation in child welfare and further internal division of work between 2003 and 2018: [Socialt arbete på löpande band? Utvecklingen av specialisering i sociala barnavården och ytterligare intern specialisering mellan 2003 och 2018]. European Journal of Social Work
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social work in an assembly line? The development of specialisation in child welfare and further internal division of work between 2003 and 2018: [Socialt arbete på löpande band? Utvecklingen av specialisering i sociala barnavården och ytterligare intern specialisering mellan 2003 och 2018]
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2023 (English)In: European Journal of Social Work, ISSN 1369-1457, E-ISSN 1468-2664Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Organisational specialisation characterises present social work in Sweden as internationally. Specialisation is often expected to lead to higher professional expertise. This study provides an overview of the development of specialisation and workforce characteristics in child welfare based on survey data collected in 2003, 2014 and 2018. The aim was to describe the development of specialisation and discuss the conditions for professional expertise in child welfare work. The results indicate that child welfare work is increasingly work task specialised. Social workers reported performing fewer tasks in 2014 and 2018 compared to 2003. This could be understood mainly as a form of statutory specialisation, indicating a shift in the professional role. Also, with the tendency to divide the work into only one or two phases of the process, child welfare work today almost resembles work at an assembly line. Compared with 2003, the statutory child welfare social workers surveyed in 2014 and 2018 were also significantly younger and less experienced. Since decision-making in child protection is a highly complex and challenging task, a question is if the development may be a survival strategy of the organisations rather than an opportunity for developing expertise. 

Abstract [sv]

Organisatorisk specialisering kännetecknar socialt arbete i Sverige såväl som internationellt. Specialisering förväntas ofta leda till högre professionell expertis. Denna studie ger en översikt över utvecklingen av specialisering och arbetskraftens egenskaper inom sociala barnavården utifrån enkätdata som samlats in vid tre mättillfällen, 2003, 2014 och 2018. Syftet med studien var att beskriva specialiseringens utveckling och diskutera förutsättningarna för professionell expertis inom sociala barnavården. Resultaten tyder på att arbetet i allt högre grad är arbetsuppgiftsspecialiserat. Socialsekreterare rapporterade att de utförde färre uppgifter under 2014 och 2018 jämfört med 2013. Detta kan förstås som en form av myndighetsutövningsspecialisering, vilket tyder på en förskjutning av yrkesrollen. Tendensen att dela upp arbetet så att olika socialsekreterare arbetar med endast en eller två faser av processen, gör att arbetet idag nästan påminner om arbete vid ett löpande band. Jämfört med 2003 var socialsekreterarna som undersöktes 2014 och 2018 också yngre och mindre erfarna. Eftersom beslutsfattande inom den sociala barnavården är en mycket komplex och svår uppgift är frågan om socialsekreterarens mer avgränsade roll är en överlevnadsstrategi för organisationerna snarare än en möjlighet att utveckla yrkeskunnandet. 

Keywords
Specialisation, statutory child welfare, professional expertise, Specialisering, sociala barnavarden, professionell expertis
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-224611 (URN)10.1080/13691457.2023.2284669 (DOI)001114737200001 ()
Available from: 2023-12-20 Created: 2023-12-20 Last updated: 2023-12-20
Pålsson, D. & Viklund, S. (2022). Barnperspektiv och ekonomiskt bistånd: I vilken utsträckning kan generositet respektive restriktivitet ses som ett uttryck för skilda strategier? [Child perspective and social assistance: To what extent are generosity and restrictiveness expressions of different strategies?]. Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift, 29(1), 47-70
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Barnperspektiv och ekonomiskt bistånd: I vilken utsträckning kan generositet respektive restriktivitet ses som ett uttryck för skilda strategier? [Child perspective and social assistance: To what extent are generosity and restrictiveness expressions of different strategies?]
2022 (Swedish)In: Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift, ISSN 1104-1420, E-ISSN 2003-5624, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 47-70Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [sv]

Det ställs alltfler krav på svenska samhällsinstitutioner att i sitt beslutsfattande ta särskild hänsyn till barn. Inom socialtjänsten är ett uttryck för detta att begreppet barnperspektiv har blivit ett viktigt ledord. Ett verksamhetsområde som statliga myndigheter menar ska präglas av ett barnperspektiv är ekonomiskt bistånd. Det är emellertid inte självklart vad det innebär att inta ett barnperspektiv i en traditionellt vuxencentrerad verksamhet som ekonomiskt bistånd. Denna artikel bygger på fallstudier i sex kommuner med låg respektive hög beviljande- och generositetsgrad till barnfamiljer. I enlighet med nyinstitutionell teori analyseras begreppet barnperspektiv som en idé som är föremål för översättning på det lokala planet. Syftet är att beskriva och analysera arbetssätt och värderingar i förhållande till barnfamiljer samt om, och i så fall hur, kommuner med låga respektive höga utgifter skiljer sig åt. Det empiriska underlaget utgörs av kommunala riktlinjer, intervjuer (n=24) med socialtjänstföreträdare samt information från personakter (n=344). Studiens huvudsakliga resultat är att det förekommer en mångfald tolkningar av vad som utgör ett barnperspektiv inom ekonomiskt bistånd. Samtidigt fokuserar kommunernas organisation och arbetssätt i förvånansvärt liten utsträckning barn och det kan ifrågasättas om de strategier som likväl kan urskiljas faktiskt påverkar barns tillvaro. Vidare är de skillnader som syns mellan kommuner med hög respektive låg beviljande- och generositetsgrad överlag små. I diskussionen relateras resultatet till teori och tentativa förklaringar ges till de (om än små) skillnader som identifierats mellan kommunerna. 

Abstract [en]

In Sweden, welfare institutions are urged to acknowledge children in decision-making. An example is that social assistance decision-making should adopt the principle of a child perspective. However, it is not evident how a child perspective should be concretized in a traditionally adult-centred practice. This article builds on case studies of six municipalities which differ in terms of approval and economic generosity to households with children. Based on institutional theory, the concept of child perspective is conceived as an idea that undergoes translation at the local level. The aim of the article is to describe and analyse the strategies and values of municipalities in relation to households with children and whether the degree of generosity may conceal differences in how a child perspective is concretized. The material consists of guidelines, interviews and case file information. Findings show that there are manifold translations of a child perspective in social assistance decision-making, but differences can only to a small extent be attributed to generosity. Further, the actual work methods to a small degree focuses children and it can be debated whether they impact children’s predicaments. In the discussion, findings are related to theory and previous research.

Keywords
Socialbidrag, Barnperspektiv, Barnfattigdom
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-207416 (URN)
Available from: 2022-07-18 Created: 2022-07-18 Last updated: 2023-06-14Bibliographically approved
Pålsson, D. & Wiklund, S. (2021). A Policy Decoupled from Practice: Children’s Participation in Swedish Social Assistance. British Journal of Social Work, 52(2), 964-981
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Policy Decoupled from Practice: Children’s Participation in Swedish Social Assistance
2021 (English)In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 52, no 2, p. 964-981Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In many countries, there are calls for children to be allowed to participate in social work decision-making. This article analyses child participation vis-à-vis social assistance (SA), which is a municipal cash benefit representing the last safety net. In Sweden, SA is part of the professional field of social work and national policy recommends that children are consulted. The aim is to analyse local policies and practices regarding child participation, and the data are based on case studies in six social service offices. Unlike most participation studies, children’s participation is conceived as an institutional pressure and the concept of decoupling is used to examine how local authorities relate to participation. The findings show that in local policies there is a general openness towards participation, but in practice no efforts are being made to promote participation. The absence of participation is analysed as deriving from organisational barriers (practices are adult-centred and child welfare units are seen as responsible for participation) and the scepticism of social workers (participation is an infringement on parental obligations and children should be protected from involvement in financial issues). The article ends with a discussion on the decoupling and adequacy of children’s participation in settings comparable with Swedish SA.

Keywords
childhood sociology, child poverty, children’s participation, social assistance
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-193177 (URN)10.1093/bjsw/bcab089 (DOI)000764575300001 ()
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2016-00662
Available from: 2021-05-14 Created: 2021-05-14 Last updated: 2022-03-24Bibliographically approved
Shanks, E., Lundström, T., Meagher, G., Sallnäs, M. & Wiklund, S. (2021). Impression management in the market for residential care for children and youth in Sweden. Social Policy & Administration, 55(1), 82-96
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Impression management in the market for residential care for children and youth in Sweden
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2021 (English)In: Social Policy & Administration, ISSN 0144-5596, E-ISSN 1467-9515, Vol. 55, no 1, p. 82-96Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In what has become quite a turbulent quasi‐market for residential care for children and youth, providers now compete for public contracts. To create visibility and attract customers, many providers use marketing activities to project the desired impression of themselves to maintain or strengthen their market position. In this article, we analyse how companies that provide residential care for children manage the impressions they project on their websites and in advertisements. The results reveal that residential care providers use a range of impression management strategies to enhance their organizational image and to respond to potentially damaging or threatening images. The information providers choose to disclose leaves customers—in this case, the social workers responsible for choosing and purchasing care on behalf of clients—with rather limited opportunities to evaluate the quality of care. This is a significant problem considering other, more reliable, sources of information are difficult to access.

Keywords
impression management, privatization, quasi-market, residential care for children, Sweden
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-181622 (URN)10.1111/spol.12613 (DOI)000532857800001 ()
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2016‐00164
Available from: 2020-05-17 Created: 2020-05-17 Last updated: 2022-02-26Bibliographically approved
Pålsson, D. & Wiklund, S. (2021). Local translations of a universal concept: 'Child perspective' in Swedish social assistance. Children & society, 35(3), 412-427
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Local translations of a universal concept: 'Child perspective' in Swedish social assistance
2021 (English)In: Children & society, ISSN 0951-0605, E-ISSN 1099-0860, Vol. 35, no 3, p. 412-427Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In recent years, scholars have called for studies exploring how key concepts originating from the children's rights discourse are understood in local contexts. In Sweden, national policy advocates that a child perspective should guide social assistance (SA), a cash benefit constituting society's last safety net. The study analyses the child perspective as an idea (i.e. an ambiguous principle), which is translated (i.e. reformulated and interpreted) at the local level. The findings indicate multiple and partly inconsistent translations of a child perspective. The study argues that it is unclear what adopting a child perspective implies for children in families receiving SA.

Keywords
child perspective, poverty, social assistance
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-185512 (URN)10.1111/chso.12420 (DOI)000571972700001 ()
Available from: 2020-09-23 Created: 2020-09-23 Last updated: 2022-03-23Bibliographically approved
Pålsson, D. & Wiklund, S. (2020). Barn i ekonomisk utsatthet - om barnperspektiv och ekonomiskt bistånd. In: Linnéa Bruno, Zulmir Becevic (Ed.), Barn & unga i utsatta livssituationer: perspektiv från forskning och praktik (pp. 56-69). Stockholm: Liber
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Barn i ekonomisk utsatthet - om barnperspektiv och ekonomiskt bistånd
2020 (Swedish)In: Barn & unga i utsatta livssituationer: perspektiv från forskning och praktik / [ed] Linnéa Bruno, Zulmir Becevic, Stockholm: Liber, 2020, p. 56-69Chapter in book (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Liber, 2020
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-183798 (URN)9789147133598 (ISBN)
Available from: 2020-08-04 Created: 2020-08-04 Last updated: 2022-02-26Bibliographically approved
Shanks, E., Jonsson, U., Wiklund, S. & Rozental, A. (2020). Harmful care. To what extent is terminology from medicine and clinical psychology applicable to out‐of‐home care?. Child & Family Social Work, 25(1), 92-99
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Harmful care. To what extent is terminology from medicine and clinical psychology applicable to out‐of‐home care?
2020 (English)In: Child & Family Social Work, ISSN 1356-7500, E-ISSN 1365-2206, Vol. 25, no 1, p. 92-99Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Research concerning outcomes for children who have been placed in out‐of‐home care has indicated that the care may have unwanted consequences. However, there has been no coherent terminology for differentiating between different types of such unwanted consequences. In this article therefore, we attempt to disentangle different aspects of potentially harmful care for looked after children, as well as to discuss potential pathways to more systematically approach and report adverse events for this group. In this endeavour, we turn to two adjacent disciplines, medicine and psychology, where these issues have received more interest. The applicability of the concepts used in these fields is discussed, and it is concluded that although they provide some help in categorizing different aspects of harmful care, the complexity of out‐of‐home care makes existing models difficult to adopt without adjustments. This has consequences for the possibility of evaluating care in research, as well as for monitoring adverse events in practice. Importantly, the causality will often be unknown. We therefore suggest that it is essential to shed more light on how decisions should be made about when to intervene or not in out‐of‐home care, despite limited information.

Keywords
adverse events, looked‐after children, malpractice, negative effects, out‐of‐home care
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-170047 (URN)10.1111/cfs.12661 (DOI)000506065700010 ()
Available from: 2019-06-24 Created: 2019-06-24 Last updated: 2022-02-26Bibliographically approved
Karlsson, P., Lundström, T. & Wiklund, S. (2020). Hur bristfällig är samhällsvården egentligen? Några mätproblem i observationsstudier av placerade barn. Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift, 27(2), 137-155
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Hur bristfällig är samhällsvården egentligen? Några mätproblem i observationsstudier av placerade barn
2020 (Swedish)In: Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift, ISSN 1104-1420, E-ISSN 2003-5624, Vol. 27, no 2, p. 137-155Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

How deficient is out-of-home care? Some measurement problems in observationalstudies of children in care

For decades, out-of-home care for children has been criticized based on discouraging results fromempirical studies. Registry studies consistently show that children in out-of-home care fare worse than their counterparts from the normal population, and these studies have played an important role in highlighting the adverse situation of this group. This article thoroughly discusses the question of whether the negative outcomes among children in care can be attributed to the placement as such. Research on out-of-home care is based on observational studies and it is widely known that it is difficult to make causal inferences from such a design. This particularly holds true regarding out-of-home care where the placed children constitute a highly selected group. In the absence of randomized controlled trials, we can basically never know whether the poorer outcomes among placed children are due to the placement or to other factors that we lack data on. A central argument is that not even the most advanced statistical techniques can solve the challenge of identifying the causal effect of the placement in observational studies. However, some of the challenges may be overcome through design, where a stronger methodological approach is to include comparison groups that are more similar to the children being placed in out-of-homecare. A few methodologically stronger studies adopting such an approach give appreciably fewer indications that the placement has a negative impact on children.

National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-187409 (URN)10.3384/SVT.2020.27.2.3519 (DOI)
Available from: 2020-12-09 Created: 2020-12-09 Last updated: 2022-09-07Bibliographically approved
Stranz, H. & Wiklund, S. (2019). Ekonomiskt bistånd i särskilda grupper: exemplet ensamstående kvinnor med barn. In: Torbjörn Hjort (Ed.), Det yttersta skyddsnätet: om arbete med socialbidrag (pp. 269-292). Lund: Studentlitteratur AB
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ekonomiskt bistånd i särskilda grupper: exemplet ensamstående kvinnor med barn
2019 (Swedish)In: Det yttersta skyddsnätet: om arbete med socialbidrag / [ed] Torbjörn Hjort, Lund: Studentlitteratur AB, 2019, p. 269-292Chapter in book (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund: Studentlitteratur AB, 2019
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-172819 (URN)978-91-44-11634-1 (ISBN)
Available from: 2019-09-10 Created: 2019-09-10 Last updated: 2022-02-26Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-4695-0314

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