Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Involvement in care order proceedings

ARTICLE: Judicial decision makers express positive views about children’s and parents’ involvement, find Berrick, Dickens, Pösö, and Skivenes.

Care order proceedings may result in the involuntary separation of children and parents (temporarily or sometimes permanently), extensive monitoring and oversight of the family, or case dismissal where the family is free from government intervention entirely.

Consequently, the requirements of justice and children’s welfare make it imperative that there are suitable opportunities for children and parents to be heard when child protection cases come before the courts.

High degree of agreement

In the article “Children’s and parents’ involvement in care order proceedings: a cross-national comparison of judicial decision makers’ views and experiences”, Jill Berrick, Jonathan Dickens, Tarja Pösö, and Marit Skivenes present the views of judicial decision makers in England, Finland, Norway, and the USA (California).

The decision makers were asked about whether parents and children are provided with appropriate opportunities to participate in proceedings. The article is published in the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law.

The overall findings suggest that judicial actors in all four countries have relatively positive views of the access that parents and children have to information about their rights and about the proceedings, to ask questions and present their views, and to have their interests safeguarded.

However, there is a distinct difference, as there is less access for children than for parents. The court decision makers from Norway and Finland were more likely to express doubts about children’s opportunity to participate.

Contrast to empirical studies

The authors point to the fact that these findings are in contrast to the few empirical studies that have been done on parents and children in child protection court proceedings, showing that parents and children quite often are not adequately involved in the proceedings.

The authors conclude that the emphasis on achieving effective involvement of children and parents in court proceedings is likely to grow, with major implications for the workers, decision makers, and agencies involved.

Berrick, Dickens, Pösö & Skivenes (2019). Children’s and parents’ involvement in care order proceedings: a cross-national comparison of judicial decision-makers’ views and experiencesJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law.

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