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Research on the mandatory reports’ situations of child protection services: From the perspectives of mandated reporters and child protection social workers
Child protection services
Child protection social worker
When the researcher acted as a social worker of child protection in the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Center of the municipality government, it was found that the number of child protection case reports showed a significant increase, which might reveal the change in child protection concept and scope, the unbalance of child protection system, and the practical difficulty in child protection. The mandatory report system is an important mechanism for child protection services. Therefore, it is expected to investigate the reporting and case accepting experience of mandated reporters and child protection social workers, their cooperation, and the professionals’ opinions on the mandatory report system, as well as accordingly propose relevant suggestions. This study used focus group interviewing, purposive sampling and snowball sampling to select the research objects. Based on their different identities, the professionals were divided into three groups, namely the principal mandated reporters, additional mandated reporters, and child protection social workers. Three focus group interviews were conducted on March, May and July 2017 respectively. A total of 14 mandated reporters and 5 child protection social workers were invited to participate in this study. The research conclusions were as follows. I.The focus groups in the separate interviews presented different discussion atmosphere. The group members had different attitudes and opinions on the mandatory reporting system. II.Current practical situation and cooperative experience of mandatory report i.The principal mandated reporters might have overreporting due to the accountability culture and the responsibility shirking behaviors, while the additional mandated reporters might have underreporting due to their insufficient awareness of child abuse and child protection. ii.In fact, there was a legal space for mandated reporters to judge whether to report or not. In addition to legal mandatory report, they also have the professional competence of providing joint protection and services. iii.The controversial core value of child protection existed among various professional networks might lead to negative cooperative experience and judgment in practice. Incomplete information conveyance among the professionals and different standpoints of the central competent authorities were the underlying causes. III.Opinions on mandatory report system i.Insufficient education and training offered to the professionals might impact the practical knowledge and competence of the mandated reporters. ii.Ambiguous core positioning of child protection and child welfare resulted in obscure labor division between high-risk family service and child protection service. The following suggestions were proposed based on the research conclusions: I.Suggestions related to mandatory report system i.Add the child protection training course into the existing training specification for the mandated reporters, and adjust the training content according to the different identities of professionals. ii.Improve the smoothness of the mandatory report administrative procedure, including the use of uniform forms, standardized format, and unified case screening and allocating window. iii.Lower the possibility of overreporting, make specific and objective reporting decision and guideline into necessary procedures, establish exception provisions free of repeated reporting, and strengthen the concept of all citizens on their responsibility for the protection of child rights. II.Suggestions on future researches i.Increase the discussion and exchange between the mandated reporters and the child protection social workers, for the purpose of triggering more extensive discussion and research data collection. ii.Explore the operation mode of the unified case screening and allocating center, to understand the influence of the uniform case screening and allocating mode on the child protection mandatory report system and the related services. In the end, there are still research limitations in this study, e.g. insufficient communication and exchange between the mandated reporters and the child protection social workers, failure to investigate the motivation of the respondents participating in the study, and restricted discussion caused by insufficient information of the unified case screening and allocating center. The researcher proposed the reflection at the end of the paper, which is hoped to be used as the reference for the researchers studying the similar topics in the future.
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