Safeguarding Children Subjected to Violence in the Family - Child-Centered Risk Assessments

Research project
Active research
Project size
3 000 000
Project period
2018 - 2024
Project owner
The Department of Psychology

Short description

A project within child protection (Swedish: barnavårdsutredningar). The project aims to develop and test structured assessments in child protection where children have been exposed to violence (child abuse) or witnessed violence between their parents. The research team has developed interview guides for younger children, older children and parents over several years. The interviews cover the areas that are normally needed to make a risk assessment in child protection cases. The interviews are designed to give children the opportunity to make their voices heard and tell what they have experienced.

Ongoing research

This project has taken place with the support of funding other than the project grant. Interview guides aimed at children and parents exposed to violence and perpetrating parents or parents are tested. Acute risk assessments within the framework of child welfare investigations and reception units, a user support and support for internal training to maintain the use of iRiSk are part of the project.

The Research and Innovation Office at the University of Gothenburg has contributed to the establishment of a digital platform for the project materials. A total of 30 municipalities/activities have been involved in the work. Research interviews have been conducted with staff using the interviews. An empirical basis exists to answer most of the study's questions, and publication of the results is underway.

Further development of the project

Some of the project's questions proved impossible to answer within the framework of the existing study, due to major challenges associated with the implementation of the method support and follow-up of cases. These challenges are largely related to the fact that there is currently a lack of research experience and infrastructure for research in child welfare and social services in general, which reinforces the difficulties with practice-oriented research that can be seen in activities such as child welfare, characterized by high workloads and high staff turnover. Another factor is that some of the recruitment of activities was done during the pandemic, which made it difficult to recruit and maintain commitment in the activities. 

To answer the questions that could not be answered within the framework of the study, the research group has initiated a collaboration with researchers at Karlstad University, FoU Välfärd Värmland, and the question of the function of risk and protection interviews in assessments and decisions on intervention will be further investigated partly in the ongoing so-called SAVE study. SAVE study of child welfare investigations in cases of violence in 26 municipalities in 6 counties (2023), and in a project where the method support is implemented within the framework of the regular regional support structure for social services in Region Värmland and then followed up (2023-2026).

The research group has also established a collaboration with THL in Finland, which is also testing the material among organizations working with domestic violence. In this collaboration, we have harmonized de-identified data, which enables an aggregation to obtain a larger statistical basis for in-depth psychometric analyses and tests of compliance of information parents and children.  Data has also been merged from previous iRiSk projects for analyses of the implementation of routines for standardized mapping of domestic violence in child welfare services.