Child protection, social work, decision-making, institutional ethnography


This article explores how social work as a discipline has helped to negotiate professional agency in decision-making within the restructured child protection system. The narratives of child protection workers affirm that a restrictive climate does exist in child protection agencies and that it indeed shapes the way they make their decisions. This study uses institutional ethnography as the methodology for exploring the decision-making practices of child protection workers. Three forms of data collection were used: experience as data, documentation reviews and in-depth interviews.

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