Processes, Dilemmas and Effects of Inter-organizational Collaboration in Integrated Services for Abused Children in Sweden
Objective: Varying degrees of inter-organizational collaboration concerning children at risk has grown rapidly since the 1980s. Collaboration is understood to provide a more holistic view of the child’s needs, lead to better care and treatment, more efficient law enforcement as well as increase knowledge in general. The aim of this presentation is to explore processes and effects, by highlighting dilemmas, barriers and possibilities, of inter-organizational and multi-professional collaboration between agencies investigating suspected child abuse cases within child welfare integrated services in Sweden. Methods: The results presented are collected within the research evaluation of pilot-projects of Children´s Advocacy Centers (CACs/Barnahus) at six locations in Sweden. The methods used are legal analysis, individual and group interviews, survey questionnaires and protocols of consultation meetings. Results: The study demonstrates overall differences in organization, and a quantity of variations between the six CACs in relation to target groups, levels of integration, efforts offered at the centers and interpretations of regulations. The results show several conflicts and dilemmas in the collaborative processes emanated from the tension between two inherent goals of the CACs, namely a) the therapeutic goal of child protection and support; b) the legalistic goal of making the (penal) legal process more efficient. The results point at a juridification tendency at the expense of child adjustment and support. Conclusions: Complex collaboration between many agencies leads to conflicts between several legislations and professional knowledge(s) which, if not addressed properly, can lead to negative outcomes in terms of the best interest of the child (including a family perspective). This implies the need for a critical perspective and further knowledge of collaborative organizing processes and the actual outcomes of collaboration viewed from a child perspective in contrast to agency perspective(s).
- Law and Society
XVIII International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) International Congress: “One World, One Family, Many Cultures”