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Family engagement within the context of assessment in child protection practice: The case of Estonia

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Child & Family Social Work

Published online on


Engagement in the context of child protection is of significant international interest, as the participation of family is a central notion in child and family social work. Drawing on in‐depth, semistructured interviews with a sample of 26 child protection workers in 1 region in Estonia, this article reports the findings of the participants' perspectives on family engagement in the context of child protection assessment. Child protection workers perceive the engagement related to 3 aspects: first, it is associated to the acts of the worker; second, it is associated to parental part of actions—depending on parents themselves; and third, engagement was seen as “doing together” with the family, referring to partnership. The aim of the engagement was mainly considered in the terms of empowerment—empowering family to cope on their own and to take charge of their lives. The negative image of child protection was recognised as one of the main barriers to the family engagement. Understanding the family and their situation was seen as the basis for a trusting relationship, being the most crucial factor to promoting family engagement.