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  • Faculty of Educational Science

    Campus der Universität Bielefeld
    © Universität Bielefeld

Risk Assessment and Case Processing in Early Preven­tion and Child Protection

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Project duration: 

  • 10/2020 – 09/2023

Project lead: 

Project staff: 


The research project explores how – i.e. by which professionals, with which practices, instruments and procedures and in which institutionalised networks – risk and stress factors and needs for support of families are assessed in Germany in the first year of a child's life. The project investigates how these assessments become relevant for the provision of early support and/or other measures according to the Bundeskinderschutzgesetz (BKiSchG) and the Sozialgesetzbuch VIII (SGB VIII). It aims at a qualitative-empirical reconstruction of these assessments around children's birth, with a focus on procedures and instruments that have been established since the commencement of the BKiSchG in 2012. The BKiSchG is characterised by a double orientation towards a simultaneously narrow, interventionist and a broad, preventive understanding of child protection. The BKiSchG and the establishment of early support systems led to differentiated case categorisations and accordingly to new forms of interprofessional and interinstitutional cooperation. The project focuses on those (professional) distinctions and decisions that are made below the intervention threshold in case of an endangerment of the welfare of the child (i.e. before the initiation of § 8a proceedings, SGB VIII). It investigates how case categorisations, responsibilities and delimitations are practically conducted and locally organised, and which problems arise in this context.

In terms of an institutional ethnography, and in applying ethnographic and document-analytical approaches, the analysis focusses on two case levels: 1. The reconstruction of how children and their families are categorised and documented in situ with reference to risks in the context of early support and how (series of) distinctions and decisions with reference to child welfare and case constructions and processing with reference to families are practically processed. 2. The reconstruction of the local variations of practical process logics of placement in early support and/or other measures of youth welfare services. Here the case level refers to the municipal regulation and organisation of the early support and child protection networks. The ethnographic fieldwork will be conducted in contrasting fields, i.e. in the networks for early support and child protection in two large cities and two rural administrative districts.

The project will contribute to fundamental research on the interfaces and networks of early support and child protection. The project aims at theoretical results that show

  • how, in the context of a broad understanding of child protection, observation spaces and networks are configured and constituted in early childhood.
  • how early support and interventional child protection is coupled or decoupled in situ and in different local procedural variants;
  • if and how early support and interventional child protection, on the level of instruments and documents, are conceptualized as a continuum and practically conducted.
  • Kelle, H. (2020). Risk Screenings After Birth in the Context of Early Support. In Alaasutari, M., Kelle, H. & Knauf, H. (Hrsg.) Documentation in Institutional Contexts of Early Childhood. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, S. 15-39.
  • Kelle, H. (2020). Risikoscreenings rund um die Geburt im Kontext von Frühen Hilfen. In Kelle, H. & Dahmen, S. (Hrsg.) Ambivalenzen des Kinderschutzes. Empirische und theoretische Perspektiven. Weinheim und Basel: Beltz-Juventa, S. 84-109.
  • Dahmen, S., & Kelle, H. (2020). Ambivalenzen des Kinderschutzes. Empirische und theoretische Perspektiven. Weinheim und Basel: Beltz-Juventa.
  • Dahmen, S., & Kläsener, N. (2019). Kinder- und Jugendhilfe als Kindeswohlgefährdungsvermeidungsstrategie?. Soziale Passagen, 10(2), S. 197-210.
  • Dahmen, S. (2018). Die Neue Sorge um das Kindeswohl-zu den praktischen Auswirkungen der präventionspolitischen Mobilmachung im Kinderschutz. Widersprüche, 39(4), S.45-58.

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