Przeperski, Jarosław (2021, February). Social work paradigms and their effect on decision making about out-of-home placement. Research on Social Work Practice. (ePub in advance of print) (doi: 10.1177/2F1049731520985607) (Link:

Abstract: Purpose: This research aimed to understand the views of social workers on factors influencing decision making toward child placement and any possible differences in perception of these factors among social workers with experience in placement decision making and those without it. Methods: The Q sort methodology was used to analyze the opinions of 64 social workers by presenting them 54 statements on single sheets and asked to rank them on a grid. Results: Analysis showed five distinct paradigms: family-centered; veiled shared concept; child-centered; paternalistic; and professional evidence-based, which influence the entire process and outcomes of the decision making process. Both groups (those with experience in decisions towards placement and those without such experience) believed in family centeredness. Workers without prior experience of deciding to place children, regarded highly the role of workers in the decision-making process. They highlighted the need for data to guide decisions and the responsibility of workers to protect the child’s welfare. Workers with prior experience focused mostly on generalized concepts and highlighted a detachment of the social worker from the decisions made. They attributed responsibility for decisions to the wider environment. Conclusion: Reflecting on the paradigms within which decisions concerning child welfare are made is essential to improving on the decision-making processes and has implications for both research and practice.

Jarosław Przeperski <> is in the Center for Family Research, Faculty of Social Work, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland.