Polly Evans McGinn

Western University of Applied Sciences


Portrait of Polly Evans McGinn

Tittel: Child welfare expert reports: An exploration of key characteristics and developments over time

Start/ slutt for prosjektet: 01.03.2021 – 28.02.2025

Bakgrunn: Child welfare expert assessments play a significant role in decision making about the way children and families are supported by child welfare services in Norway, particularly in the courts. However, concerns being raised about the quality and consistency of expert assessment work and there is strong demand for research regarding this work. There is a particular paucity of quantitative research concerning child welfare expert assessment. 

Mål /forskningspørsmål: The project seeks to generate knowledge about what characterizes child welfare expert assessments and the children they consider. The project explores the way in which child welfare experts conduct and conclude their assessments, and the factors that may shape their approach. Of specific interest is whether child welfare expert assessment approaches and recommendations have altered over time, particularly in regard to their attention to issues of culture. The key research questions are:

  1. What characterizes child welfare expert reports and the children they consider?
  2. What characterizes child welfare expert reports involving children and families with an immigrant status
  3. How have child welfare expert assessments altered over time?

Method: The project has developed a coding scheme to support quantitative content analysis of 300 expert reports. The sample is stratified to include older (2010-2014, n=150) and newer reports (2018-2022, n=150) and reports concerning children with an immigrant (n=150) and a non-immigrant background (n=150). Descriptive analysis will generate information about the demography of children and families subject to expert assessment, the methods employed to assess them and the conclusions of the assessments for both the whole data set and the subsamples (immigrant background status groups and different time periods). Chi-squared analyses will for example be used to identify any differences between older and newer reports and between reports concerning children with an immigrant background and those with a non- immigrant background.

The project is located in the larger Norwegian Research Council funded project “Expert reports as basis for decisions in Norwegian Child Welfare Services” project which aims to investigate expert reports as basis for decisions in Norwegian child welfare services. 

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