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  • 1.
    Andersson, Peter
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Revitalizing residential care for children and youth. Cross-national trends and challenges. Whittaker K.J., Holmes, L., Del Valle J.F., & James, S. (red.) Oxford University Press: Oxford. (2023)2023In: Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift, ISSN 1104-1420, E-ISSN 2003-5624, Vol. 30, no 2, p. 672-674Article, book review (Refereed)
    Abstract [sv]

    Institutionsvård för barn och ungdomar (kollektiv vård och behandling dygnet runt) är en ofta ifrågasatt insats. Att föra samman barn med stora behov är förenat med risker och det finns ont om forskningsstudier som tydligt kan visa institutionsvårdens nytta för barns utveckling. Vårdformen präglas återkommande av skandaler och i Sverige rapporterades nyligen om våld och övergrepp vid Statens Institutionsstyrelses (SiS) särskilda ungdomshem. EU (Europeiska unionen) förordar “avinstitutionalisering” som överordnat mål och många länder, inklusive Sverige, prioriterar vård i familjehem framför institutioner. Samtidigt har institutionsvård en befäst position inom samhällsvård världen över. I Sverige är omkring vart fjärde barn i samhällsvård placerad vid ett HVB- eller SiS-hem. Svensk institutionsvård (SiS-hemmen undantagna) utförs på en löst sammanhållen marknad där vårdutbudet till stor del bestäms av privata aktörer.

    I antologin Revitalizing residential care for children and youth. Cross-national trends and challenges (Oxford University Press, 2023) diskuteras institutionsvård i sexton västländer (inklusive Argentina). Boken gör nedslag i så skilda länder som USA, Spanien, Israel, Finland och Tyskland (dessvärre ingår inte Sverige i antologin). Syftet med boken är att ge en bild av hur institutionsvård används i olika länder, men även att identifiera framgångsrika praktiker.

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  • 2.
    Lundström, Tommy
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Sallnäs, Marie
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Debatt: Vad kan man lära av IVOs granskning?2020In: Socionomen, ISSN 0283-1929, no 8, p. 50-51Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 3.
    Lundström, Tommy
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Sallnäs, Marie
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Shanks, Emelie
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    A Crisis in Swedish Child Welfare? On Risk, Control and Trust2021In: Social Work and Society, E-ISSN 1613-8953, Vol. 19, no 1Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In recent decades, Swedish out-of-home care has been criticised for a number of reasons. In this article, based on research and public debate, we discuss this criticism as well as the institutional responses that have been evoked. We use the concepts of risk, control and trust to structure the analysis, which outlines three core issues portrayed as problematic: a) certain principles of the Swedish child welfare system with relevance for the placement of children and adolescence, b) the quality of out-of-home care and c) the privatisation of out-of-home care and the possibility of generating profits on such services. The institutional response to the criticism has mainly been increased control measures, but the development is not uniform - trust and control-oriented responses are often combined. We conclude the article by relating Swedish out-of-home care to international child welfare trends, discussing the institutional responses and the implications for social work practice.

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  • 4.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Adjusting to standards: reflections from 'auditees' at residential homes for children in Sweden2016In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588, Vol. 6, no 3, p. 222-233Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In recent years, state inspection of Swedish residential care for children has been reinforced. This study explores how inspections are perceived from the point of view of residential staff. The empirical material is based on interviews (n = 23) with residential staff and managers (n = 55) of residential homes subject to requirements from the Swedish Inspectorate. The material has been analysed using concepts shedding light on the different aspects of how audit affects ‘auditees’. The results suggest that inspections have mainly shaped the administrative part of care; that compliance with regulatory standards bring about stability in the work performed; that the standard-setting sometimes creates tensions between professional judgment and formal authority; and that inspections play an accreditation role for the residential homes. The implications of this are discussed, e.g. that the regulatory standards seem to target aspects of care that are alternatives to those of evidence-based practice, that general standards to some extent challenge the possibilities of organising the care according to the individual needs of the children and that the receptiveness of professionals to inspection ideas entails both possibilities and obstacles for the development of a professional field.

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  • 5.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Att styra marknader med granskning - tillsyn och tillståndsgivning inom institutionsvård för barn och unga2018In: Socialtjänstmarknaden: om marknadsorientering och konkurrensutsättning av individ- och familjeomsorgen / [ed] Marie Sallnäs, Stefan Wiklund, Stockholm: Liber, 2018, p. 206-228Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 6.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Can Children’s Participation Be Promoted From the Outside? Insights From Sweden on Public Monitoring of Foster and Residential Care2022In: Children's Rights to Participate in Out-of-Home Care: International Social Work Contexts / [ed] Claudia Equit, Jade Purtell, London: Routledge, 2022Chapter in book (Other academic)
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  • 7.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Conditioned agency? The role of children in the audit of Swedish residential care2017In: Child & Family Social Work, ISSN 1356-7500, E-ISSN 1365-2206, Vol. 22, no S2, p. 33-42Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    At a policy level, governments increasingly stress the importance of children's rights and their ability to participate in decision-making in child welfare services. An example of this is that the Swedish inspectorate targeting children in residential care is required to consult children and to take account of their opinions. This paper details a study exploring the influence that the inspectorate grants children and particularly how children's views influence the inspection process. The study draws on interviews and observations of inspectors as well as an analysis of a representative sample (n = 147) of documentation from inspections performed during 2012. The result indicates different inspectorial rationales, which in turn influence the importance children's opinions are assigned in the inspection process. Moreover, the findings demonstrate difficulties in giving children's views substantial impact on the inspection process. This can be attributed to the fact that most of the regulatory quality criteria used by the authority diverge from the aspects of care that children attach most importance to. The study adds empirical findings to how the participation of children is realized during inspection.

  • 8.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Entering the Market: On the Licensing of Residential Homes for Children and Youth in Sweden2018In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 48, no 3, p. 843-859Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In Sweden, residential care for children to a great extent takes place in a care market, and a precondition for private care providers to enter the market is a licence issued by the state. The aim of the study is to describe and analyse the regulatory conditions for and output of licensing in the market of residential care for children in Sweden. Analytically, licensing is considered a formative mechanism, which means that it shapes the development of the supply side of residential care. The empirical material consists of an analysis of formal licence decisions and interviews with inspectors managing licences. The results show that the majority of the applicants were granted a licence during the year of the study and that the licensing process consists of a few stringent standards. Further, the stringent standards are influenced only to a limited extent by knowledge generated from research on residential care and the applicants are granted a fair degree of leeway as regards how to organise the care content. The findings are discussed based on whether the licensing system takes advantage of its potential and what it may entail for the residential care market at a broader level.

  • 9.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Granskning inom den sociala barnavården: Tillsyn och uppföljning av utredningsarbete, institutioner och familjehem2023In: Människobehandlande organisationer: villkor för ledning, styrning och professionellt välfärdsarbete / [ed] Staffan Johansson; Peter Dellgran; Staffan Höjer, Stockholm: Natur och kultur, 2023, 2, p. 350-366Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 10.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Institutionsvård för barn och unga - tendenser, innehåll och utfall2015In: Barns och ungas rätt vid tvångsvård: förslag till ny LVU: slutbetänkande, Stockholm: Fritzes, 2015, p. 1223-1246Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 11.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Securing the floor but not raising the ceiling? Operationalising care quality in the inspection of residential care for children in Sweden2020In: European Journal of Social Work, ISSN 1369-1457, E-ISSN 1468-2664, Vol. 23, no 1, p. 118-130Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In many countries, inspections are employed as a central instrument to the promotion of good social work practice, but how inspections operationally should achieve this is not evident. By utilizing data from guidelines, inter-views and observations, the aim of the article is to analyze how the Swedish Inspectorate operationalizes care quality within the service residential care for children. Analytically, the Inspectorate is regarded as an open system that is receptive to different ideas of how to operationalize care quality. The results show that: a) the standards display a marked variation, change annually and are similar across all homes, b) there is a limited link to good quality care as it is defined in empirical research, c) there are several driving forces for care aspects to inspect and, in general, the distinct standards pertain to formal re-quirements, while how the care is provided is associated with more indistinct standards and d) if there is no obvious malpractice in care provided, the in-spections appear to have rather unclear formative effects. The results are inter alia discussed regarding whether inspections foster the idea that the ‘floor’ of the care is raised (i.e. securing a basic level of care) but not the ‘ceiling’ (i.e. maximizing care).

  • 12.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Supervising a family or a service? Social worker approaches to foster care supervision in six Swedish authorities2023In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In many countries, local supervision is the main activity to control foster care. In Sweden, the legislation stipulates that foster parents have a supervising social worker (SSW) and the foster child an assigned social worker (CSW). This article describes and analyses how child welfare authorities organize and social workers handle the supervision of foster care. The study is based on data (policy documents and 18 individual/group interviews with 43 managers/social workers) collected from six Swedish child welfare authorities. Analytically, the study assumes that the position of foster care between the private and the public spheres paves the way for different ideas regarding how to conduct supervision that can be broadly based on trust or control vis-à-vis foster homes. The findings show that supervision is differentiated and varies more between foster parents and children than between authorities. Supervision approaches are identified that can be analysed as being more or less trust-based (discreet and affirming) or control-based (compensating and interfering) towards foster parents and children, but overall trust-based approaches dominate. The approaches imply different levels of involvement in care and vary regarding emphasis on the private and the public aspects of fostering. The discussion focuses in particular on the potential impact of different supervision approaches on the foster care service.

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  • 13.
    Pålsson, David
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    The Prerequisites and Practices of Auditing Residential Care: On the Licensing and Inspection of Residential Homes for Children in Sweden2018Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this dissertation is to describe and analyse the prerequisites and practices of auditing Swedish residential care for children. Residential care is a complex intervention provided to children in vulnerable life situations. The care is extensively delivered by private providers and shows difficulties in demonstrating clearly positive treatment effects. Licensing and inspections are policy instruments to address alleged quality problems in decentralised and marketised welfare services. However, in research there are mixed opinions on the ability of audits to generate improved service quality.

    The dissertation consists of four papers exploring central facets of the audit system. The empirical material is based on interviews (n=50) with inspectors and residential staff, documentation (n=286) in terms of guidelines and license/inspection decisions and observations (n=12) at inspection-related events. Each paper includes a unique set of data.

    Paper I analyses the controls that private residential homes undergo prior to their entry into the market. The results show that a majority of applicants are granted a license and that the controls do not reduce the need for ex post control. There is limited guidance on care content and research evidence is weakly incorporated in the controls. Overall, the state exerts limited influence over the composition and professional development of the care market.

    Paper II explores the operationalisation process of care quality in inspections. The results show that the standards display a marked variation and there is no differentiation between different residential homes. In general, the standards focus on reducing malpractice and not maximising care quality. In practice, the inspections are often discussion-based and standards relating to work with children are often indistinct.

    Paper III analyses how inspections are perceived by representatives from residential homes. The results show that inspections induce reflection and to some extent shape the administrative parts of care, but also that it is difficult to discern the actual impact of the inspections on the work. The inspections appear to bring a degree of stability and legitimacy to the work, but there are sometimes tensions between standards and professional judgment.

    Paper IV studies the influence the inspection process grants children in care. The results suggest that different inspectorial rationales (regulative, supportive and protective) may influence the agency children exert and that it is difficult to allow children’s views to have a substantial impact on the process. Overall, there tends to be a gap between what the children find important and what the audits can address in concrete terms.

    The theoretical ideas used to analyse the results are derived from institutional organisational theory and the thesis on the audit society. The overall analysis shows that 1) making certain core care aspects auditable and ensuring their impact is difficult (e.g., children-staff relationships, children’s views and use of research knowledge), 2) the system has a restrained character and is in many senses associated with inconclusive formative effects, 3) the use of uniform goals does not necessarily equal a more suitable care provision and 4) the audits signify strong symbolic values. Despite the limitations, the audits may help to discipline care providers, secure a minimum level relative to the audited care aspects and induce reflection among auditees.

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  • 14.
    Pålsson, David
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Andersson, Peter
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Shanks, Emelie
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Viklund, Stefan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    A professional field? Educational attainments, gender and age among staff in Swedish residential care2023In: Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, ISSN 0886-571X, E-ISSN 1541-0358, Vol. 40, no 4, p. 497-516Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

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  • 15.
    Pålsson, David
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Backe-Hansen, Elisabeth
    Gundersen, Tonje
    Kalliomaa-Puha, Laura
    Lausten, Mette
    Pösö, Tarja
    Licence Loss: Revocations of Residential Care Licences in Four Nordic Countries2024In: Child & Family Social Work, ISSN 1356-7500, E-ISSN 1365-2206Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    With placement in residential care, society assumes overall responsibility for a child's daily care, well-being and development. How public authorities respond to poor care quality is of crucial importance. To guarantee quality care and minimise risks, welfare states increasingly develop different mechanisms and systems to supervise out-of-home care. In this article, we analyse how central inspectorates in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden deal with what can be conceived as the last supervisory measure, namely, the revocation of licences. The aim is to describe and analyse how frequently and why national inspectorates in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden withdraw residential care licences. The findings are based on an analysis of all available documented reports on revocation decisions between 2017 and 2021. The findings reveal that, between 2017 and 2021, there were 53 licence suspensions or revocations across the four countries, albeit with variations among the nations. Furthermore, the study shows that residential care units (RCUs) generally have a documented history of interactions with inspectorates. Revocation decisions were often attributed to several reasons, with safety, staff-related concerns and documentation deficiencies being the primary factors. The findings are discussed based on concepts and theory on regulation and supervision.

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  • 16.
    Pålsson, David
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Backe-Hansen, Elisabeth
    Kalliomaa-Puha, Laura
    Lausten, Mette
    Pösö, Tarja
    Licence to Care – Licensing Terms for For-Profit Residential Care for Children in Four Nordic Countries2022In: Nordisk välfärdsforskning | Nordic Welfare Research, ISSN 1799-4691, E-ISSN 2464-4161, Vol. 7, no 1, p. 23-35Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Licensing is a public instrument used to control welfare services. One such service is residential care for children,which is targeted at children who experience maltreatment in their home environment and/or have behaviouralproblems and have been separated from their parents by the authorities. In Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark,residential care may be provided by public or private (not-for-profit or for-profit) providers. The aim of this articleisto explore and compare how public authorities in Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, license residential carefor children. The data consist of application forms and instructions for how to apply for a licence as well as interviewswith key staff responsible for licensing. The findings show differences in how national agencies license residentialcare providers. Licensing models may be centralised/general (Sweden, Finland) or regionalised/specialised towardsresidential care (Norway, Denmark). The process can be more investigative (Sweden, Norway) or consultative (Fin-land, Denmark), and the review of standards formality-oriented (Sweden, Finland, Norway) or content-oriented(Denmark). Finally, the models of supervision post-licence vary in terms of being non-intervening (Finland), semi-intervening (Sweden, Norway) or intervening (Denmark). The discussion centres on the possible contribution of thedifferent models to the regulation of the residential care markets.

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  • 17.
    Pålsson, David
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Shanks, Emelie
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Missed opportunities? State licencing on the Swedish residential care market: [Förlorade möjligheter? Tillståndsgivning på marknaden för institutionsvård för barn]2021In: European Journal of Social Work, ISSN 1369-1457, E-ISSN 1468-2664, Vol. 24, no 3, p. 393-404Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In many countries, residential care is subject to outsourcing and consequently, states are increasingly engaged in controlling activities. A central instrument is licencing; a procedure determining membership to markets. By analysing all formal applications submitted to the Swedish national Inspectorate between the years 2013–2016, the aim of the article is to describe the characteristics and influx of applicants as well as analysing how the inspectorate, conceptualised as a market agency, contributes to shape the residential care market. The findings show that applicants often are not forced to revise their care in conjunction with the licencing procedure, and slightly more than half of the applicants are granted a licence. Large companies are in general more successful than small companies, as are those presenting specialised target groups. The primary focus in licencing appears to be target group descriptions, management and ensuring the absence of methods with repressive elements. Licencing does not, or only to a limited extent, address issues such as schooling and health support, staffing levels, children’s contacts with the birth family, the scientific base of methods and measurement of client outcomes. The discussion focuses on how licencing contributes to the market formation as well as care aspects omitted in the controls.

  • 18.
    Pålsson, David
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Viklund, Stefan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    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?]2022In: Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift, ISSN 1104-1420, E-ISSN 2003-5624, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 47-70Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

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  • 19.
    Pålsson, David
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Wiklund, Stefan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    A Policy Decoupled from Practice: Children’s Participation in Swedish Social Assistance2021In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 52, no 2, p. 964-981Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

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  • 20.
    Pålsson, David
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Wiklund, Stefan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Barn i ekonomisk utsatthet - om barnperspektiv och ekonomiskt bistånd2020In: 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)
  • 21.
    Pålsson, David
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Wiklund, Stefan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
    Local translations of a universal concept: 'Child perspective' in Swedish social assistance2021In: Children & society, ISSN 0951-0605, E-ISSN 1099-0860, Vol. 35, no 3, p. 412-427Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

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