Care order templates as institutional scripts in child protection: A cross-system analysis


Jill Duerr Berrick (School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley, USA)

Jonathan Dickens (Centre for Research on Children and Families, University of East Anglia, UK)

Tarja Pösö (School of Social Sciences and Humanities¸ University of Tampere, Finland)

Marit Skivenes (Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen)


The article comperes blank care order application templates from four child welfare systems, England, Finland, Norway, and USA (California). The content of the care order application may serve as the source of data for research regarding the characteristics of families in question, but the blank template itself is not regularly featured as a source of study. However, it is crucial because it is the document that guides agency staff in completing the application, presenting the facts of the case, and recording and exchanging information between the agency and judicial system.


  • Templates are manifestations of the principles of each child welfare system.
  • Templates recode and redefine the experiences of children and families, and the interactions between families and the state.
  • The analysis casts light on issues that might otherwise remain unseen and unnoticed in cross-country comparisons.


Published in Children and Youth Services Review, 2017