Partnership with parents in child protection: A systems approach to evaluate reformative developments in Israel

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This research was set out to examine the extent to which a national reform in the Israeli child protection decision-making framework of formal committees is achieving its aim for strengthening partnership with parents. The research employed a qualitative method of inquiry and a case-study design. The cases of twenty-one families brought before the committees were investigated and followed up after six months. Data were collected through interviews with social workers and parents and observations of the committees’ discussions. A systems approach was undertaken as a conceptual framework in order to study practice within its organisational context. Based on the relatively small sample, the key finding is a very limited realisation of partnership with parents in terms of allowing them power to influence decisions. This is suggested to have come in the way of improving outcomes for children and families. Evidence showed that mechanisms of coercion and control were used in the discussions in order to enforce agreements. The analysis identified several systemic factors that were obstacles to good partnership working, including: heavy caseloads, lack of time for building relationships, insufficient skills in communicating effectively with parents and paternalistic organisational culture. Implications are discussed in terms of whole-organisational changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1061-1077
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.


  • Child protection
  • Decision making
  • Qualitative methods
  • Social policy
  • Users’ participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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