PhD project Lamponen: Decision-making in emergency placements in child protection

Decision-making in emergency placements in child protection

This PhD study examines social workers’ decision-making in emergency placement of the children. The study focuses especially on the social workers’ use of knowledge during the decision-making process; how the decision is proceeded and when the decision of emergency placement is required. The aim is also to view the consequences of the decision-making in the emergency situations in general as a part of the child protection practices.

Despite the increasing numbers of emergency placements in this century Finland, very little research exists about the explanations behind the numbers, either about social workers’ decision-making related to emergency placements. The present study fills the gap in child protection research by providing new insights into emergency placement as a phenomenon and social workers’ decision-making in general. The intention is also to increase the understanding about the wanted and un-wanted impacts from the intervention. The research approaches the information about the decision-making of emergency placement as a joined action of public authority and the private sphere (family) and their relations.

The ethnographic data was gathered in five child protection units in two Finnish municipalities during the years 2015–2016. The data includes:

1) Observations of the social workers’ decision-making moments (N= 43) and

2) Interviews of the social workers (N=51).

The statistical information from child welfare documents were gathered as a follow-up data in 2017, in order to view the child’s situation after 6 and 12 months of the emergency placement.

In addition, the comparative interview data were gathered from Irish child protection social workers in 2015. This data offers an opportunity to mirror the Finnish decision-making practises. The study will be finished by the end of the year 2019. The research is funded by the research project Legitimacy and Fallibility in Child Welfare Services, Alli Paasikivi Foundation and the University of Tampere Doctoral School.


Photo: Magio










The PhD study is conducted by

Tuuli Lamponen
+ 358 40 760 9744

Faculty of Social Sciences (SOC)
University of Tampere