MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Foster children's experiences and expectations concerning the child‐welfare officer role—Prerequisites and obstacles for close and trustful relationships


Child & Family Social Work

Published online on


The question of whether the Swedish social services are fulfilling their obligation to monitor and support children in foster care is attracting increasing attention. The importance of closeness and trust between children and their child‐welfare officers has been highlighted in particular. The aim of this article is to study foster children's experiences and expectations concerning the role of the child‐welfare officer, and how these constitute prerequisites for, and possible obstacles to the officers developing close and trustful relationships with the children under prevailing institutional conditions. Data from our evaluation of a national pilot project with supervision representatives provide the empirical basis. Our theoretical point of departure is that the relationship between the child and the child‐welfare officer is affected by the officer's role—a role that is negotiated under the prevailing institutional conditions and in interaction with the children's experiences of and expectations about that role. The results show that most children emphasize that the relationship with their officer is negatively affected by a lack of time, availability, and trust. It is also weakened by the children's general expectation that child‐welfare officers only act in their official role, a role that is associated with a formal and distanced relationship.