When standardization becomes the lens of professional practice in child welfare services
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionChild & Family Social Work. 2020, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12748
This paper examines the relationship between professional work and standardization. There has been an increase in the use of standardized programmes in child welfare services (CWS) in Western society. Some researchers have criticized standardized programmes suggesting that they undermine professionals expertise and threaten their position, whereas others argue that such programmes strengthen professional practice. In this paper, we examine how standardized tools, in this case, a standardized parenting programme and a standardized Norwegian assessment tool, influence professional roles as experienced by child welfare workers (CWS professionals) in Norway. Semistructured individual and group interviews were conducted with 31 frontline workers in two CWS agencies. Our findings suggest that standardized tools increase the social workers experienced professional competence but challenge their professional knowledge base, reflective practice, and professional accountability. Professional and practical implications for CWS work are discussed in the light of these findings.