Child Welfare Attitudes, Risk Assessments and Intervention Recommendations: The Role of Professional Expertise

Bilha Davidson-Arad, Rami Benbenishty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The study, carried out in Israel, explores the question of whether professionals' status and experience moderate the relationships between their attitudes and their assessments and decisions on removal. It compares the associations between attitudes towards issues in child welfare, maltreatment, risk assessments and decisions of three groups of respondents: social work students and less and more experienced child protection social workers. The sample of 210 workers and 263 social work students filled out an attitudes questionnaire and responded to a written vignette showing a case of alleged child maltreatment. Compared with students, practitioners were more against removal, more in favour of reunification and optimal duration, and had a less favourable view of residential care. No significant group differences, however, were found in the risk assessments or removal recommendations. Four attitudes were associated with the recommendation not to remove: negative attitudes towards removal, positive attitudes towards parental participation in the decision, positive attitudes towards children's participation in the decision, and positive attitudes towards speedy reunification. Professional status and experience did not moderate these associations. The authors urge examination of professionals' post-graduation training and supervision in order to determine whether the role of attitudes in professionals' risk assessment might be further reduced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-203
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.


  • Attitudes
  • decisions on removal
  • maltreatment
  • professionals status and experience
  • risk assessments


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