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    Critical examination, using the decision-making ecology framework, of macro, institutional and individual decision-maker influences on decision making in response to child abuse and neglect.

    Decision making in child welfare is complex and requires a broad range of knowledge, skills and reflective capacities. Decision-making in this high stakes environment relies not only on individual practitioners, but is shaped by institutional, cultural and macro influences. This paper explores decision-making in the Aotearoa New Zealand context, and aims to develop critically reflective practitioners.

    About this paper

    Paper title Decision-making in Child Welfare
    Subject Social Work
    EFTS 0.1667
    Points 20 points
    Teaching period Semester 2 (Distance learning)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,482.46
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    SOWK 509
    Limited to

    Teaching staff

    Associate Professor Emily Keddell

    Teaching Arrangements

    The Distance Learning offering of this paper is a combination of remote and in-person teaching.

    There are two compulsory workshops for this paper - one at the start and one at the end of semester.

    Readings will be provided online. There is no set text.
    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Critical thinking, Ethics, Cultural understanding.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete the paper will:

    • Be able to critically analyse the child welfare decision-making environment, recognising the legal, ethical, social, cultural and political dimensions shaping the parameters of decision making in the Aotearoa New Zealand context. This includes the influence of colonisation and disparities for Māori.
    • Be able to identify institutional influences on judgement, including organisational cultures, feedback, groupthink, team decision-making processes, interprofessional decision making and the influence of the resource environment
    • Understand the individual drivers of decision making, including values and beliefs, cultural differences, cognitive processes (including biases), and the interpretive and dialogic nature of decision making
    • Be able to describe differing approaches to, and processes of, decision making in the child welfare environment. Approaches include actuarial/predictive, professional discretion, safety-oriented, Kaupapa Māori and relationship-based practice approaches. Processes include participatory practice with children and whānau, and culturally diverse decision-making processes.
    • Be able to apply relevant research in the areas of risk, safety, trauma, ethics, parenting capacity, and participation to decision making practice.


    Semester 2

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught through Distance Learning
    Learning management system
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