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Collaboration patterns among Swedish professionals in the repatriation of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children: an explorative study



This study explores patterns of collaboration between Swedish professionals involved in the repatriation of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children. A qualitative case study methodology was used. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a total of 20 statutory social workers, social workers at care homes, police officers, Swedish Migration Board officers, and legal guardians. A thematic approach was used to analyse the data. The results showed low levels of collaboration among the professionals and the use of different strategies by the professionals to manage their work tasks. Patterns were found among the professionals: some tended to isolate themselves from interaction and acted on the basis of personal preference, and others tended to behave sensitively, withdraw, and become passive observers rather than active partners in the repatriation process. These behaviours made it difficult for the relevant professionals to employ dignity and efficiency in the repatriation of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children.
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European Journal of Social Work
ISSN: 1369-1457 (Print) 1468-2664 (Online) Journal homepage:
Collaboration patterns among Swedish
professionals in the repatriation of
unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children:
an explorative study
Johanna Sundqvist, Kenneth Ögren, Mojgan Padyab & Mehdi Ghazinour
To cite this article: Johanna Sundqvist, Kenneth Ögren, Mojgan Padyab & Mehdi Ghazinour
(2015): Collaboration patterns among Swedish professionals in the repatriation of
unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children: an explorative study, European Journal of
Social Work, DOI: 10.1080/13691457.2015.1082981
To link to this article:
Published online: 14 Sep 2015.
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Collaboration patterns among Swedish professionals in the repatriation of
unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children: an explorative study
Samverkansmönster bland svenska professionella aktörer i arbetet med
ensamkommande asylsökande yktingbarns återvändande: En explorativ
Johanna Sundqvist
*, Kenneth Ögren
, Mojgan Padyab
and Mehdi Ghazinour
Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health Unit,
Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden;
Basic Training Programme for Police Ofcers, Umeå
University, Umeå, Sweden;
Department of Social Work, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
This study explores patterns of collaboration between Swedish professionals
involved in the repatriation of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children.
A qualitative case study methodology was used. Semi-structured interviews were
conducted with a total of 20 statutory social workers, social workers at care
homes, police ofcers, Swedish Migration Board ofcers, and legal guardians. A
thematic approach was used to analyse the data. The results showed low levels of
collaboration among the professionals and the use of different strategies by the
professionals to manage their work tasks. Patterns were found among the
professionals: some tended to isolate themselves from interaction and acted on
the basis of personal preference, and others tended to behave sensitively,
withdraw, and become passive observers rather than active partners in the
repatriation process. These behaviours made it difcult for the relevant
professionals to employ dignity and efciency in the repatriation of
unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children.
Keywords: collaboration; Sweden; repatriation; unaccompanied children; refugee
Denna studie undersöker svenska aktörers samverkansmönster i arbetet med
ensamkommande asylsökande yktingbarn som ska återvända. Kvalitativ metod
har använts. Semistrukturerade intervjuer har genomförts med totalt tjugo
socialsekreterare som arbetar med ensamkommande yktingbarn, personal vid
hem för vård och boende, poliser, handläggare Migrationsverket och gode
män. En tematisk analysmetod har använts. Resultatet visade låg nivå av
samverkan mellan aktörerna och att de använde sig av olika strategier för att
hantera sina arbetsuppgifter. Varierande samverkansmönster kunde ses: vissa
tenderade att isolera sig från att interagera med andra aktörer och agerade
utifrån personliga preferenser, andra tenderade att bete sig känslomässigt, dra sig
undan och bli passiva observatörer snarare än aktiva deltagare i
återvändandeprocessen. Dessa beteenden gjorde det svårt för aktörerna att både
praktisera ett värdigt och effektivt arbete gällande de ensamkommande
asylsökande yktingbarnen som skulle återvända.
Sökord: samverkan; Sverige; repatriering; ensamkommande barn; yktingbarn
© 2015 Taylor & Francis
*Corresponding author. Email:
European Journal of Social Work, 2015
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War, armed conicts, and political persecution send thousands of people eeing every
day around the world. Many of these people are children under 18 years who are sep-
arated from parents and other relatives and who become unaccompanied refugee chil-
dren (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR], 2005). The
UNHCR has estimated that there are approximately 34,300 unaccompanied refugee
children worldwide (2015). Sweden and Germany registered one third of all unaccom-
panied refugee children asylum applications in 2014. The countries in the European
Union (EU) have agreed on a common migration policy that includes unaccompanied
refugee children, who are seen as an especially vulnerable group (Directive 2008/115/
EC). Part of the migration policy concerns asylum seekers who are not considered in
need of protection or who have other reasons to stay. These people have the opportu-
nity for a dignied return to their home countries or to a transit country. When repa-
triation involves an unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee child, several authority
actors become involved and must collaborate to preserve the childs dignity. This
article examines how Swedish professionals address challenges in collaboration in
repatriation processes concerning unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children.
This issue is highly relevant because Sweden is one of the European countries that
has received the greatest number of refugees over the years. In 2014, approximately
7000 unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children came to Sweden. In 2015,
more than 8000 unaccompanied refugee children are expected to seek asylum in
Sweden (Swedish Migration Board [SMB], 2015a). With large numbers of refugees
received, repatriation also rises. In 2014, 26% of unaccompanied asylum-seeking
refugee children were not granted asylum (SMB, 2015b). When an unaccompanied
asylum-seeking refugee child repatriates, either to his or her home country or to a
transit country, the Swedish workers involved must consider two different demands.
The rst demand requires dignied repatriation, which is incorporated into the
EUs Return Directive (Directive 2008/115/EC) to Swedish Aliens Act (SFS,
2005:716). The second demand, directed at the SMB and the police authority, requires
that the repatriation process be conducted efciently, which means that a higher
number of repatriation cases must be processed (Swedish Government, 2014a,
2014b). The fact that the same professionals have different and seemingly contradic-
tory requirements places high demands on the involved collaborators.
Four types of professionals collaborate in the Swedish child repatriation process.
Social services care homes (HVB, which is the Swedish acronym for Hem för vård
och boende), and the Board of Legal Guardians are both operated on a municipal
level. The police and the SMB, in contrast, are state operated. These professionals
are involved in different stages of the repatriation process. For instance, the police
are engaged only in cases in which a person is unwilling to cooperate in the repatria-
tion procedure. In such a scenario, the SMB refers the case to the border police for
enforcement (SFS, 2005:716).
One study from the UK on collaboration between police ofcers and social
workers in the reception of unaccompanied children found that the collaborators cri-
ticised each others work and that the children suffered the consequences by not
receiving the help they needed (Westwood, 2012). In the context of studying unac-
companied asylum-seeking refugee children, relatively little research has focused
on collaboration.
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Therefore, this study aims to explore the patterns of collaboration between
Swedish authorities in the repatriation process. We believe that the knowledge gener-
ated by this investigation might provide insight to researchers, policy-makers, and
practitioners to help foster understanding of how the patterns of collaboration
affect the futures of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
The next section describes the Swedish asylum process, followed by a theoretical
presentation of the concept of collaboration.
The asylum process in a Swedish context
The SMB has the overall responsibility for unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee
children. SMB employees are responsible for receiving and reviewing applications
for asylum and, where appropriate, conducting age assessments, investigating the
childs family members during the asylum period, and managing the practical repa-
triation arrangements for children who are not granted a residence permit.
When a child arrives alone in Sweden, a legal guardian (in Swedish, god man)is
appointed by the Board of Legal Guardians in the municipality where the child
resides. The legal guardian, who can be a layperson, is the custodian responsible for
the childs personal circumstances and manages the childs affairs throughout the
asylum process (SFS, 1994:137). In the repatriation process, the legal guardian sup-
ports the child in an eventual appeal and manages the communication with the SMB.
According to the Social Services Act (SFS, 2001:453), social services have the ulti-
mate responsibility for providing support to all individuals in need, including unac-
companied asylum-seeking refugee children residing in a municipality. Throughout
the asylum process, social services, and thus the statutory social workers who work
with the children, follow up on unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children.
They have close contact with the care homes and the legal guardians. In the repatria-
tion process, statutory social workers are responsible for the unaccompanied asylum-
seeking refugee children until their last moments before leaving the country. The social
services in the municipality are responsible for the childrens living arrangements.
Most unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children live in care homes at the begin-
ning of their stay in Sweden. Care homes can be operated by a municipality, a non-
governmental organisation, or a private owner and are inspected by the Health and
Social Care Inspectorate, a state agency. In a care home, the child has one or more
contact persons (social workers at the care homes) responsible for the childs daily
living arrangements, schooling, healthcare needs, and nutrition. The contact
persons interventions are governed by documents that are the responsibility of the
statutory social worker, who follows up on the child. The child remains at the care
home until the day he or she repatriates.
In Sweden, an asylum-seeking child must leave the country if such a decision has
been made by the SMB. Negative migration case outcomes can be appealed in the
Migration Court (in Swedish, Migrationsdomstolen). If a dispensation review is
granted, a case may even reach the nal legal court, the Migration Court of Appeal
When a nal decision is made, one of the following scenarios often occurs:
(1) The child cooperates and accepts the repatriation. A repatriation decision may
not be enforced unless it is established that the childwill be received by a family
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member, a nominated guardian, or a reception unit that is well suited to take
care of children (SFS, 2005:716).
(2) The child refuses to cooperate and will not return voluntarily. In this case, the
SMB submits the enforcement case to the police (SFS, 2005:716).
Because Sweden ratied the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC; United
Nations General Assembly, 2013), the country must consider childrens perspectives in
every decision involving children. The portal section of CRC is, for example, included
in the Social Services Act (SFS, 2001:453) and the Aliens Act (SFS, 2005:716). The
CRC itself is not a law in Sweden. Thus, if a conict occurs between the CRC and
national law, the latter prevails. The portal section of the CRC states that in all
actions concerning children, including public and private social welfare, institutions,
courts of law, administrative authorities, and legislation, the childs best interest
must be the primary consideration. Furthermore, the CRC underscores that every
child has the right to live, survive, and develop. It also emphasises that every child
should be treated with respect and judged without discrimination.
The concept of collaboration
Previous studies have shown that there is no clear or unambiguous denition of collab-
oration. Even in various governmental publications, different concepts and meanings
are used (Johansson, 2008; Mallander, 1998). In the report Psychiatric Clinic in Ängel-
holm (1982), Berggren examined collaboration by focusing on the character of collab-
oration and the degree of integration between collaborating workers. Danermark and
Kullberg (1999) distinguished three levels of collaboration: structural, organisational,
and individual. Abrahamsson and Rosenthal (1995) divided collaboration into two
parts: the rst, interdisciplinary collaboration, spans professional boundaries, and
the second, inter-organisational collaboration, spans organisational boundaries.
Horwath and Morrison (2007,2011)dened ve types of collaboration: communi-
cation, or talking to each other, is the easiest form; cooperation involves more
enhanced cooperation on a case-by-case basis; coordination involves coordinating
efforts in a more formalised way; coalition occurs when organisations retain their
peculiarities, such as working on shared premises; and integration means that organ-
isations intend to create a new identity together. Horwath and Morrison (2007)
present communication as the lowest level of collaboration and integration as the
highest level. Low-level collaboration is authority focused and is characterised by
working towards different targets and goals, whereas high-level communication
focuses on services and is collaboration oriented. Furthermore, the authors emphasise
the importance of clear agreement on the structure of collaboration to achieve separ-
ation between different responsibilities. To dene patterns and describe different types
of collaboration, we use Horwath and Morrisonsdenition of collaboration as the
theoretical framework for this study. Our choice is based on their work with vulnerable
Research on collaboration can be divided into two categories. One category indi-
cates the difculty of collaboration (Johnson, Zorn, Kai Yung Tam, Lamontage, &
Johnson, 2003; Sandfort, 1999), and the second indicates how organisations can
achieve benets from collaboration (Boklund, 1995; Danermark & Kullberg, 1999;
Darlington, Feeney, & Rixon, 2005). A lack of information on available services
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and a lack of knowledge about the role of other workers have been reported as barriers
to initiating and maintaining collaborative work (Johnson et al., 2003). Sandfort
(1999) found that if there are strong disagreements between collaboration partners,
all information about and interactions with the other authority are perceived in a
way that amplies the unwillingness of the professionals to collaborate.
To achieve an effective collaborative relationship, it is important to respect and
positively regard the other collaborators (Darlington et al., 2005). Previous studies
have identied factors that promote collaboration from a Swedish perspective.
Examples of success factors include a common starting point and frame of reference,
common methods of developing collaboration, careful discussion of objectives, prin-
ciples, and ethics before beginning collaboration (Danermark & Kullberg, 1999),
and the ability to understand each other and the various assignments (Boklund,
1995). A commonly held opinion is that collaboration is a necessity that produces
better outcomes compared with non-collaborative situations. Swedish national legis-
lationfor instance, the Social Services Act (SFS, 2001:453) and the government
bill strengthening protection for children in vulnerable situations (2002/03:53)
states that social services have a responsibility to collaborate with all involved
actors. However, Bergmark and Lundström (2005) argue that collaboration consumes
time and energy, and research showing that the advantages outweigh the disadvan-
tages has been insufcient.
Study design and setting
To explore the repatriation phenomenon, we used a qualitative case study approach.
Yin (2009) describes a case study as an empirical inquiry, in which the focus is on a
contemporary phenomenon within its context in addition to understanding the
boundaries between such phenomena. It is therefore suitable for studying complex
social phenomena. This approach helps us to understand the complexity of the collab-
oration between professionals engaged in repatriation processes. We conducted 20
face-to-face interviews from May to August 2013. The participants were recruited
from social service organisations, care homes, the police authority, the SMB, and
the legal guardian administration, all of whom were involved in the repatriation of
unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children. The study took place in a middle-
sized to large municipality in Sweden with a population of more than 100,000. All
ve types of workers were represented in the studied municipality. Since 2007, the
city in which the data were collected has developed a refugee reception system
through which unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children are resettled and
await a nal decision regarding their permit applications. This situation made it poss-
ible to recruit participants who had worked with unaccompanied refugee children with
or without a permit. Ethical issues related to this research project were reviewed and
approved by the Regional Ethical Review Board at Umeå University, Dn 2014/
Sample and data collection
All staff members from statutory social service organisations, border police ofcers,
and ofcers at the SMB were included in the case study. A convenience sample was
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chosen from among legal guardians and social workers at care homes. Statutory social
workers, social workers at care homes, police ofcers, ofcers at the SMB, and legal
guardians from one selected municipality in Sweden participated in the study. Four
statutory social workers, 5 police ofcers, 2 SMB ofcers, 30 social workers at care
homes, and 14 legal guardians were working with unaccompanied refugee children
at the time of the research project.
To collect data from the statutory social workers, the rst author contacted a senior
ofcer at the social service organisation to explain the aim and purpose of the study.
Permission was obtained from the senior ofcer to contact all statutory social workers
to inform them about the studyspecically, the studys aim, voluntary nature, and
assurances of condentialityand to gauge interest in participating. The same pro-
cedure was performed when collecting data from border police ofcers and SMB of-
cers. Our sample, based on the case study, consisted of all four statutory social workers
(three women and one man) with an average work experience of three year, all ve
border police ofcers (one woman and four men) with an average work experience
of two years, and both SMB ofcers (one woman and one man) with an average
work experience of ve and a half years.
All social workers at care homes and legal guardians were emailed a letter that
explained the aim, voluntary nature, and condentiality of the study. The sample con-
sisted of six social workers at care homes (four women and two men) with an average
work experience of four and a half years and three legal guardians (two women and
one man) with an average of six years of experience with unaccompanied asylum-
seeking refugee children The semi-structured interviews were divided into four
sections: the participants background, experience with the repatriation of refugee
children, guidelines and policies, and collaboration within the repatriation process.
Each section included a number of questions, and all interviews included the same
questions. With permission from the participants, the interviews were audio recorded
and transcribed. The average time of the interviews was approximately one hour.
Data analysis
All transcribed interviews were manually interpreted, structured, and compressed by
thematic analysis, in which the intention was to search for patterns in the data.
There are two different types of approaches in thematic analysis, inductive and deduc-
tive (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Deductive analysis (theory driven) refers to themes based
on existing theories. Inductive analysis involves identifying themes that are based on
what transpires in the data (i.e. themes identied during the analysis). Thematic analy-
sis can combine both inductive and deductive approaches. Most of our themes were
predetermined based on Horwath and Morrisons(2007,2011)ve types of collabor-
ation. The ve themes were communication, cooperation, coordination, coalition, and
integration. During the analysis, new themes arose from the empirical material,
adding an inductive component to the analysis. In the inductive part of the analysis,
we followed Braun and Clarkes(2006) recommendations for thematic analysis. We
initially became familiar with the data with a process-directed approach, that is,
reading and re-reading the transcribed interviews. After we understood the data
better, we generated initial codes, or sub-themes, which identied data points accord-
ing to the researcher. Third, using a mind map, we searched for themes paired with
each researcher. In step four, we compared our sub-themes and themes in several
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meetings where we discussed and reected on our ndings. These discussions and
reections generated the following themes pertaining to the professionalsbehaviour
patterns in the repatriation process, namely, teamwork patterns, isolated patterns,
and sensitive patterns (Table 1).
The trustworthiness of a qualitative study is essential for transparency and for reect-
ing on the effectiveness of the sample design, data collection, and analysis in addres-
sing the research questions (Dahlgren, Emmelin, & Winkvist, 2007). In this study, the
prolonged working experience of three of the researchersthe rst, second, and last
authorsmade it possible to obtain a broad understanding of the experiences of
the workers engaged in the repatriation process. In addition, investigator triangulation
was applied through continuous negotiations and discussions in the research group
about the preliminary ndings. The research group represents different areas of exper-
tise and cultural understanding, which allowed us to understand and evaluate the nd-
ings from different angles. The rst and second authors are native Swedish researchers
and social workers with experience working with vulnerable people within the eld of
social work in Sweden. The third and fourth authors are Swedish-Iranian researchers.
The fourth author is a social worker with experience with asylum-seeking refugees in
the mental health and public health elds and experience in multicultural social work
Communication level
The majority of the participantsstatements related to the communication level of col-
laboration in terms of existing and non-existing communication between workers
involved in the repatriation process of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee
All of the statutory social workers spoke about receiving informationwhen
describing their communication with other workers. Their communication with care
homes was characterised by reading the childrens client les. The general opinion
Table 1. Overview of sub-themes and themes.
Sub-themes Themes
Compromises within the collaboration Teamwork patterns
Understanding each others roles
Help each other in repatriation work
Feeling lonely in repatriation work
Distancing themselves in repatriation work Isolated patterns
Make their own decisions in repatriation work
Criticizing other actors
Uncertainty about each others roles Sensitive patterns
Role bordering
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of the statutory social workers was that their practical work with the returnees was
functional, but they wanted to have more connections with the other professionals.
Social workers at care homes and legal guardians received information about when
and how the border police were going to receive a child for repatriation, but they could
not reveal this information to the child. In one such case, a social worker expressed the
feeling of being a traitor.
It is almost better not to know. Because then you can truly say that we did not know this
was going on. When we know, then you feel like you have been lying and knew about this,
but said nothing . [Social worker at a care home]
All SMB workers held the view that they only needed some information to manage
their work, mostly from legal guardians and, in some cases, from the border police.
Furthermore, one SMB worker did not think that they were obligated to contact
other workers after the asylum decision was made. This SMB worker argued that
because the unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children came with their legal
guardians to receive the asylum decision, the legal guardians could spread the word
if they wanted other workers to know about the decision.
I feel that the SMBs role is to work with the legal guardian. The legal guardian is the one
who will monitor the young persons interests, and if the legal guardian thinks that the
municipality should know that they received a negative decision, then the legal guardian
has to say it [to the municipality] . [Staff at SMB]
Another SMB worker also thought that the secrecy that existed between the involved
workers was intended to protect the child and therefore was important to maintain.
Based on this persons experience, the SMB worker believed that it was best for children
to have as few persons involved as possible. In practice, this meant that other workers
were sometimes not informed regarding when the return trip would occur.
It may be difcult for the person [the child] to be handed over to the police, and the person
may not want that information to be held by someone else . [Staff at SMB]
The majority of the border police mentioned the importance of informing other
workers about where they were in the enforcement process so that everyone would
know what was happening. One of them also mentioned the importance of the
other workers having general knowledge of the border police work.
It can get a little difcult, and that means we may not tell everyone [workers] about what
we intend to do. Many times its because then we cannot get the person to be enforced. It
is important that we have this structure that weve talked to everyone about, so that you
know when this is happening . [Border police]
Cooperation level
At the cooperation level, more than half of the statutory social worker group believed
that like-minded thinking was one way to achieve successful collaboration with the
other workers.
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It feels good, the times youve talked together about some things and you were thinking
reasonably similar . [Statutory social worker]
One SMB staff also spoke, from the perspective of experience, about the merits of
sharing thoughts and actions with other workers:
The longer a municipality has been receiving unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee
children, the more experienced they are . [Staff at SMB]
One border police, in contrast, did not believe that different ways of thinking about
roles presented an obstacle to collaboration.
No, were thinking in different ways. We should reasonably do that. [Border police]
One social worker at care homes mentioned the importance of structuring the work
they shared with the legal guardians from the outset so that everyone knew their roles.
One legal guardian held a similar opinion:
We simply make up our plans and write down who is responsible for the different things
. [Legal guardian]
The majority of border police ofcers were clear that their assignment demanded a
high level of cooperation to make the enforcement process dignied for the child. One
border police ofcer gave an example of a time when he gathered everyone involved
around a table:
I wanted everyones [the authoritiesand the childs] voice to be given considerable weight
somewhere . [Border police]
Coordination level
Few statements were identied on the coordination level for all workers. Half of the
statutory social workers group said that they wanted to have more exchange at the
coordination level, but they were uncertain who was responsible for that type of col-
laboration and how to make it happen. At one previous meeting, a group of represen-
tatives from different elds had discussed issues concerning unaccompanied asylum-
seeking refugee children:
We actually talked about that we would like to resume it [coordination] . [Statutory
social worker]
One border police noted that their collaboration at the coordination level started at
a personal level but that it was at a functional level several years later:
It is probably the case that it is based on function. So I feel, even though perhaps it
was at the individual level from the beginning, it has evolved to function . [Border
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Coalition and integration
We could not nd anyone who mentioned any examples from these two levels of
In the following section, we present the results from the three different collabor-
ation patterns we identied from the data: teamwork patterns, isolated patterns, and
sensitive patterns.
Teamwork patterns
One social worker at care homes mentioned that compromise was necessary to create a
sense of teamwork in the workplace:
It is hard work as well. They [statutory social workers] have said what they thought not
has been working out from our side, and we have done the same thing. Then, we have
made something good out of it . [Social worker at the care home]
All of the workers mentioned the importance of understanding each others roles
for successful collaboration. If legal guardians understand why border police ofcers
do not reveal when they are going to pick up a child prior to repatriation, then the
guardians may realise that doing otherwise would place the legal guardian into an
uncomfortable situation in which he or she must make the decision to either reveal
that the child will soon be repatriated or remain silent and feel like a traitor.
It may be a high demand to insist that one should be quiet, too. Then, its just as good that
we are not talking, because then there will be no condence crisis between them [the legal
guardian and the child] . [Border police]
Isolated patterns
All workers mentioned feeling lonely in their roles working with unaccompanied asylum-
seeking refugee children. Half of the statutory social workers felt lonely if they had an
opinion about the childrens wellbeing that opposed other workersopinions. The
other half of the statutory social workers mentioned feeling that they lacked a
common mission in their work with unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children.
Both SMB ofcers also mentioned feeling lonely in their role. Their focus inthe repatria-
tion process involved giving unaccompanied children the opportunity to reunite with
their parents. However, they did not think that the other workers had the same approach.
All legal guardians also expressed feelings of loneliness in their role as the childs
voice in the asylum process:
It can be quite [an] exposed [situation] to be a legal guardian . [Legal guardian]
The majority of the border police ofcers also mentioned loneliness. They were
seen as a threat not only by the unaccompanied child but also by other authorities.
All social workers from care homes described their role as distancing themselves
from the SMB. If they had contact with the SMB, then a child might think that the
care home workers could inuence the SMBs asylum decision. Therefore, the social
workers wanted the legal guardians to be that contact.
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It was not the thought that we should have contact with the SMB. The times we had it, it
was an exception because the legal guardian was not available . [Social worker at the
care home]
A few social workers at care homes and legal guardians felt that collaboration was
impaired when other government authorities determined the course of action:
You feel compelled to participate, but you are trying to not make it easy for them [border
police] . [Legal guardian]
When collaboration does not occur, legal guardians have the right to take control
of the situation. Their role provides them with broad discretion to make decisions in
the interest of the child. For instance, legal guardians can move a child from a
care home that they consider negative for the child despite the objections of social
Sensitive patterns
The statutory social workerscriticism was mostly directed towards what they per-
ceived to be wrong decisions by the SMB and inappropriate behaviour from the
border police and legal guardians. Often, their criticism pertained to actions that
made the process less dignied for the child:
We also talked to some legal guardians specically. Youhave to be an adult as well. Every-
thing the child wants and thinks does not always have to be the best for the child. [Stat-
utory social worker]
A few statutory social workers said that they felt a difcult-to-dene uncertainty as
to how they should collaborate with other professionals:
I think it is clear who does what in the different processes. But it may not be . [Statutory
social worker]
One statutory social worker and a legal guardian also mentioned the importance of
not interfering with other authoritiesassignments and remaining within the bound-
aries of their roles.
I assume my responsibilities and have not taken it as my responsibility to care about how
the police do their job, for example. I must assume that they do their job, and they will
assume that Im doing mine . [Statutory social worker]
No, I will not hasten or do something; they can work and then get in touch . [Legal
The aim of the present study was to explore the patterns of collaboration between
various Swedish authorities and administration (the social services, including the
European Journal of Social Work 11
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care homes, the police authority, the SMB, and the board of legal guardians) in the
repatriation process of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children. Our ndings
revealed several levels of collaboration and three types of working patterns: teamwork,
isolation, and sensitivity.
Levels of collaboration
The workers described different needs for collaboration within their roles in the repa-
triation process. Most of the collaboration took place at the two lowest levels of col-
laboration: communication and cooperation. The SMB staff, who have relatively little
contact with the involved children, generally indicated less of a need for collaboration
than the other workers. The statutory social workers saw a need for stronger collabor-
ation, but they seemed to be unable to implement collaboration, even though regu-
lations (Governmental bill, 2002/03:53) have given them the overall responsibility
for collaboration in this area. The border police ofcers expressed their need for
close collaboration with other workers to keep the enforcement process as dignied
as possible for the child. Their collaborative work was mostly discussed at the
cooperation and coordination levels. Based on the different levels of collaboration
dened by Horwath and Morrison (2007), the statements of the participants in our
study exemplied a rather low level of collaboration, which could be interpreted as
indicating their authority-focused collaboration. This study found no examples of col-
laboration at the integration or coalition levels. One possible explanation for this
result, as expressed by the statutory social workers, is that the workers do not have
knowledge regarding how to collaborate closely. In a study of child protection pro-
fessionals, Darlington and Feeney (2008) showed that the professionals themselves
called for improved communication, an enhanced knowledge base for collaborators,
and adequate resources for managing a higher level of collaboration. A US study of
workers involved in refugee and child welfare services identied a critical lack of com-
munication and coordination between the involved workers, despite the staffs beliefs
in the benets of collaboration (Morland, Dunean, Hoebing, Kirsehke, & Sehmidt,
2005). Darlington et al. (2005) found that inter-organisational collaboration had
benets, such as reduced anxiety, for both vulnerable children and professionals.
Patterns of collaboration
Our ndings suggest three types of working patterns in professionals engaged in the
repatriation of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children: teamwork, isolation,
and sensitivity. All professionals involved in repatriation aimed to consider the chil-
drens best interest; this was their main reason for collaboration. However, conicting
demands from the governmentto perform the repatriation process both efciently
and with dignity (SFS, 2005:716; Swedish Government, 2014a,2014b)made it dif-
cult to meet the requirements of the CRC (United Nations General Assembly,
2013). In a Swedish study of childrens case workers at the SMB, Ottosson, Eastmond,
and Schierenbeck (2013) found that despite the authoritys promotion of childrens
rights, children tended to be placed in the margins of daily organisational practice.
The strategies of isolated and sensitive professionals created reduced collaboration
compared to what might occur between professionals with a teamwork-focused
agenda, who would be more likely to act in the childs best interest.
12 J. Sundqvist et al.
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The teamwork pattern is characterised by professionals who understand the differ-
ent roles in the repatriation process, are willing to compromise for the sake of collab-
oration, and are helpful to the collaborating workers in the repatriation process. These
professionals have a collaborative perspective, according to Horwath and Morrison
(2007). The presence of a common mission, common collaborating methods, an
understanding of each other and the various assignments, and a positive attitude
towards other collaborators are success factors in collaboration (Boklund, 1995;
Danermark & Kullberg, 1999; Darlington et al., 2005). The strength of teamwork-
focused professionals is their motivation to collaborate with other professionals
involved in the childrens repatriation. This can be seen as an example of what the
Swedish Aliens Act calls a dignied return(SFS, 2005:716). A challenge for this
type of professional is the time necessary for collaboration (Sheehan, Paed-Erbrederis,
& McLoughlin, 2000).
The isolated pattern is characterised by professionals who distance themselves in
the repatriation process, feel lonely, and make decisions despite other workersobjec-
tions. They are lonely in the repatriation process. According to Horwath and Morrison
(2007), the pattern of this type of professional represents authority-focused collabor-
ation because it is more important for them to execute their own decisions than to
negotiate with other workers. Maynard-Moody and Musheno (2003) note the ten-
dency of these professionals to dene themselves based on their identication with
the person they are helping, which affects their behaviour. Isolated professionals
may be important people for the child because they ght for the childs rights, but
they also ght against other collaborators rather than working with them. The chal-
lenge for this type of professional may be that different workers operate with different
knowledge bases, discourses, and conceptual frameworks, which may lead to misun-
derstanding and disagreement in communication and joint decision-making (Davis,
2012). This strategy impairs professionalsability to collaborate to meet the childs
needs when their focus is on authority (Horwath & Morrison, 2007; Ziviani, Darling-
ton, Feeney, Meredith, & Head, 2013).
The sensitive pattern is characterised by professionals who criticise other workers
in the repatriation process. They are uncertain of the other workersroles, and they
want to maintain the boundaries of their role by not interfering with the work of
others. They are passive observers rather than active participants in the repatriation
process. Sandfort (1999) showed that strong disagreements between collaboration
partners reduce the willingness to collaborate. Westwood (2012) found that people
involved in work with unaccompanied children criticised the work of others in colla-
borative situations.
Even though all professionals involved in working with unaccompanied asylum-
seeking refugee children agreed on their main taskmaking the repatriation
process as dignied as possible for the childour ndings showed that their collabor-
ations were conspicuously low. These ndings should be interpreted in light of unac-
companied refugee childrens vulnerable situation. In particular, what impact does low
collaboration between workers have on unaccompanied refugee children, knowing
that they are exposed to an extreme situation while living under asylum seeker
status? From this point of view, and with regards to the CRC, our conclusion is that
European Journal of Social Work 13
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the Swedish governments demands to both be efcientand make the repatriation
digniedfor the child have resulted in difculties.
As we have seen, repatriation processes are complex, and the government has not
yet provided any systematic review of this work. This has led to disorganised patterns
characterised by professionals acting outside of their own framework in the collabor-
ation process of repatriating unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children.
There is little knowledge about the repatriation of unaccompanied asylum-seeking
refugee children, both in terms of the repatriation process itself and in terms of the pro-
fessionals engaged in that process. In this study, we have started to shed light on this
issue, but further research is necessary. One research direction could involve deepening
the understanding of how child repatriation professionals perceive their general
mental health and how they cope with their work tasks. Another direction could
involve listening to one essential involved party that is seldom consulted: the children
themselves. Further research could give these children a voice to tell their own story
about the repatriation experience.
Finally, the strength of our study lies in the application of the case study method,
which enabled us to explore a complex social phenomenon. However, there are some
limitations worth mentioning in this study.
Our results are based on a single case study examining collaboration patterns of
professionals in the repatriation of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children
in the context of one single municipality. Conducting this study in several municipa-
lities might have yielded a different pattern of collaboration.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
This work was supported by the European Return Fund [grant number R16-209-1-01].
Notes on contributors
Johanna Sundqvist is a Ph.D. student at Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine,
Epidemiology and Global Health Unit at Umeå University. She is also involved in projects
within Basic Training Programme for Police Ofcers. She has a Bachelor degree in Social
work and have been working with vulnerable adolescents for 10 years.
Kenneth Ögren is a Senior lecturer at the Department of Social Work, Umeå University. He has
a Bachelor degree in Social work and is a Phd in medical science. His thesis deals with the history
of psychosurgery in Sweden 1947 to 1958 with special respect to lobotomy performed at a State
Mental Hospital in northern Sweden.
Mojgan Padyab is a Statistician, MPH, and researcher at Department of Social Work, Umeå
University. She obtained her doctorate in Social work from Umeå University with research
about client violence toward Iranian Social Workers.
Mehdi Ghazinour is Professor of Social Work, licensed psychotherapist and clinical supervisor.
He is also Director of the Research Program for Basic Training Programme for Police Ofcers at
Umeå University. He obtained his doctorate on stress, trauma and resilience in Medical Faculty,
Department of Psychiatry, Umeå University.
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... Collaboration is an important aspect of social care practice, with previous collaborative research showing that conflicts are common among collaborating actors, organizations and authorities that are supposed to cooperate (Gardner, 2015;Hesjedal, Hetland, & Iversen, 2015;Sundqvist, Ögren, Padyab, & Ghazinour, 2016;Wieczorek, Marent, Dorner, & Dür, 2016). Lindberg (2009) states that factors contributing to the success of collaboration include the following: Leadership and functional borders are decided in an appropriate manner, organizations are located at the same place, administrative and political management and finance are coordinated, cooperation includes all levels in the involved organization, mutual trust and respect exist between the cooperating parties, mutual additional training of all personnel is provided, mutually beneficial development projects are conducted and economical stimuli or forced legislation exist. ...
... No threat to the unanimous triad is visible, and no rhetoric used could exclude anyone (Basic, 2018a(Basic, , 2018b(Basic, , 2015b. The presented performances during the meeting also offer insight into the balanced morality value of the unity (Gardner, 2015;Hesjedal et al., 2015;Sundqvist et al., 2016;Wieczorek et al., 2016). The actors' resources in the form of rhetoric act as a stimulant for the other members to embrace the speaker's definition of the 'self' and 'others'. ...
... The morality of the actors appears in different interactive patterns in this study. It seems that the morality is part of the construction of a successful collaboration (Gardner, 2015;Hesjedal et al., 2015;Sundqvist et al., 2016;Wieczorek et al., 2016). ...
Full-text available
The aim of this ethnographic study is to analyse themes for ‘the successful collaborations’ that emerge from the study field notes on youth in Swedish juvenile care, and that can be interpreted as beneficial for these youth. These successful collaborations were observed, for instance, at meetings where the young persons were being discussed, and where an observer could distinguish planning for them that was carried out practically. The empirical base for this study is its total of 119 field observations/notes. The examples analysed reference a completed appointment for an eye test, a practical realization of active leisure, homework help and an internship placement that works. The coherence of three actors belonging to three different categories (coherent triads), and success points of interest that benefit the youth in the situation, create the image of a positive development for them. In this way, common identities of interplay that are useful for the young person are created and elucidated. The physical presence of the young person in these situations is an especially important theme for the ‘successful collaboration’. This study shows that trust and motivation are important aspects for a successful collaboration and inclusion of less powerful individuals and groups of individuals within a community. Young people discussed in this study receive confirmation of their identities by participating in the community, with a successful interaction between actors in juvenile care a prerequisite for successful involvement and integration.
... Furthermore, to unite the child with its biological family is seen as the ultimate solution without considering the home environment or the re-settlement, which is a much longer process than just repatriating a child physically from place A to B (Bhattacharya & Sen 2005;Cavendish & Cortazar 2011;Farrow & O' Connel Davidson 2007;Bhabha 2014;Muchini 1993). The process of rescuing, repatriating and reintegrating child migrants together with the long-and short term consequences for the psychosocial wellbeing of the children are in highly need of further research (Farrow & O' Connel Davidson 2007;Gozdziak & Bump 2008;Sundqvist et al. 2015). Importantly, as highlighted in a recent report on collaboration patterns among Swedish professionals in repatriating unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, research need to include the children whom this concern, their trajectories and to give them a possibility to share their experiences on repatriation (Sundqvist et al. 2015). ...
... The process of rescuing, repatriating and reintegrating child migrants together with the long-and short term consequences for the psychosocial wellbeing of the children are in highly need of further research (Farrow & O' Connel Davidson 2007;Gozdziak & Bump 2008;Sundqvist et al. 2015). Importantly, as highlighted in a recent report on collaboration patterns among Swedish professionals in repatriating unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, research need to include the children whom this concern, their trajectories and to give them a possibility to share their experiences on repatriation (Sundqvist et al. 2015). Only then do we have chance to fully understand their migrant trajectories and how to provide services to keep them safe. ...
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The border area between India and Bangladesh has a long history of migration, and today, formal and informal migration from Bangladesh to India forms one of the major migration corridors in the world. In recent years there has been an increased focus on child trafficking between the two countries, leading up to a policy agreement on the Rescue, Recovery, Repatriation and Integration (RRRI) process, a child protection apparatus designed to rescue and repatriate Bangladeshi children in India. However, there is little knowledge on how a rescue and repatriation apparatus affects children’s psychosocial health. Therefore, the aim of this study was to identify the risks and protective factors children on the move between Bangladesh and India experience during their trajectories, both before and after they come under the RRRI apparatus. Material was gathered through interviews with stakeholders, both adults and children with the relevant knowledge and experience within the field of child migration between the two countries. With the help of a social-ecological model, risks and protective factors were identified on an individual-, relational-, community-, and societal level. The findings suggest that the RRRI process plays an important role in relation to children’s trajectories by both attenuating and amplifying the risks and protective mechanisms children carry with them from previous experiences but also by introducing new possibilities and challenges into children’s lives, affecting their psychosocial health and their level of protection. Child protection apparatuses, designed to rescue and repatriate children need to take into account the different social levels affecting children’s resilience and in addition, include the whole cycle of migration, both in relation to children’s past and present experiences, but also the future perspectives to be able to cater for children’s psychosocial wellbeing in case of repatriation.
... Previous studies reported that deviant police behaviour and officers' negative emotions related to stress can impact how they treat vulnerable populations (Hansson, 2017). A Swedish study exploring the nation's repatriation of asylum-seeking children reported low collaboration among the professionals involved (Sundqvist et al., 2016). Hansson (2017) investigated Swedish police officers' mental health in the context of deportations of unaccompanied, asylum-seeking refugee children and found that the police officers seemed to utilize both emotional and problem-solving coping during the deportation process. ...
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An arrest can be a potentially traumatic event for parents and children. In Norway, the National Police Immigration Service (NPIS) has introduced four child-specific principles – safety, understanding, predictability and involvement – to guide a new practice to prevent traumatic stress. We explored how the police understand and practise the new approach when arresting families to be deported. We conducted 20 semi-structured interviews with police officers who arrest migrant families. We analysed the levels of understanding, from descriptive to practical and reflective understanding. Analysing the levels of understanding makes it possible to decide where and how to improve the practice and the delivery of instruction. We found that police officers who demonstrate a reflective understanding are capable of reflecting on their own actions and use the principles to reduce stress, thereby operationalizing their “know-how” in practice. We suggest creating institutional activities that promote reflection-on-action to develop the collective institutionalization of the new practice, meeting the pressing challenges of contemporary policing.
... In addition to studies aimed at illuminating the perspectives and experiences of the minors themselves, there is research focused on the professional perspective. This research includes, for example, studies of police officers' and social workers' experiences of the forced repatriation of URM (Hansson et al., 2015;Sundqvist et al., 2016), social workers' views on how their practice can help unaccompanied children resettle in a new context ( Kohli, 2006), and Migration Agency case officers (Hedlund, 2017). There is also research investigating the ambiguous narratives and discourse of URM, how stereotypical ideas are re-constructed, reproduced and re-established in media and public debate (e.g. ...
Purpose Organisations working with children have acknowledged that unaccompanied refugee minors (URM) across Europe are exposed to environments and situations that put them at risk for becoming addicted to drugs or becoming involved in crime. The purpose of this paper is to study an examination of existing international research concerning URM and of whether, and if so how, issues relating to drug use and criminality among these children are discussed in the international literature. Design/methodology/approach A literature review was conducted using PsycINFO, PubMed, Sociological abstracts and ERIC databases, which together cover the social and behavioural science and also medicine. Findings Findings from the present review show that the issues of drug abuse and criminality among URM are rarely acknowledged in the international research literature. When the occurrence of substance abuse and/or criminality is discussed, it is often in relation to mental health problems and in terms of self-medication, i.e. that alcohol or drugs are used by the URM to cope with painful experiences or mental health problems, and also with the challenges of integrating into a new society, difficulties finding work, unsuitable living conditions and a lack of social support. Originality/value This review shows that several researchers have emphasised that untreated mental health problems, stressful living conditions and a lack of support and control might put these children at risk for substance abuse and criminality, and this suggests a need for further research in this area.
... Det er flere kategorier forskningsbidrag som kan ha relevans for vår analyse. I den første kategorien er internasjonal forskning om asylsøkende barn og enslige mindreårige asylsøkere som fokuserer på enslige mindreåriges «institusjonelle mistillit», deres mestringsstrategier og relasjoner til tjenesteytere (Anderson, 2001;Kohli, 2006;Ní Raghallaigh & Gillian, 2010;Sundqvist, Ögren, Padyab & Ghazinour, 2015;Vitus & Lidén, 2010). ...
Drawing on in-depth interviews with representatives from 17 organisations, this paper focuses on patterns of collaboration between different actors involved in the pre- and post-adulthood trajectories of youngsters arriving in Belgium as unaccompanied refugee minors. First, we clarify that the Belgian support system for these minors is characterised by fragmentation. In order for this fragmented system to benefit minors, different actors need to collaborate closely. Our qualitative analysis reveals that there is room for progress, specifically when concerning information exchange, case transfer and case coordination among different organisations. We identify five different but interrelated factors that engender interprofessional collaboration: timely and adequate diagnoses; knowledge of all service providers; sufficient capacity; informal trust relationships between professionals; and cultural competence of social workers and other professionals. While some of these issues can be addressed at the level of individual organisations, many are also embedded in a structural context of time pressure, understaffing, increased stress levels and high personnel turnover.
Background Sweden received, in 2016, 40% of EUs asylum seeking unaccompanied minors (UAM) (individuals less than 18 years of age). Some of these youth end up in a court mandated compulsory-care institution within months upon their arrival. A key concern is the appropriateness of UAMs ending up in an institutional care system which is aimed at youth with significant criminal justice, violence and/or drug problems. A second concern is that UAMs in compulsory care may display behavioral and acting out behaviors while in care due to their history of trauma and confusion regarding being institutionalized. The research question examined is whether UAMs in compulsory care receive more restrictive actions by compulsory care staff compared to their counterparts who are non-UAMs. Materials and methods The research team used national compulsory-care registry data from 2014-2016 to compare a range of restrictive actions taken by institution staff between UAMs versus non-UAMs while in care. Differences in the rate of compulsory care restrictive actions reported between UAMs and non-UAMs, while in care, were examined using chi-square test and Poisson regression methods. Results A total of 2398 children and youth were placed in compulsory institutional care during the study period, of whom 423 (17.5%) were unaccompanied. The Poisson regression model identified that being subjected to body search, limited body inspection, drug use testing, and care in locked unit were used significantly less often for UAMs individuals compared to non-AUMs. In addition, repeated number of intakes in compulsory care and number of dropouts were lower among UAMs during this time period. Conclusion The finding of this national registry study revealed that restrictive actions by institutional staff within compulsory care were significantly less common for UAMs versus non-UAMs. This study roughly suggests that the Swedish policy makers overseeing NSBIC need to consider and evaluate other care alternatives for UAMs, in addition to youth compulsory institutional care.
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This study aims to contribute to the knowledge of social support and its association with mental health amongst social workers and police officers in forced repatriation work of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children. Nationally distributed surveys to social workers and police officers with and without experience of forced repatriation were used, measured by an abbreviated version of the Interview Schedule for Social Interaction (ISSI), and analyzed by univariate and multivariable regression models. Social workers in forced repatriation showed significantly poorer mental health than other social workers, but simultaneously relatively high access to social support. Irrespective of working with forced repatriation, police officers reported relatively high access to social support, but no difference in mental health. Furthermore, low levels of satisfaction with social interaction and close emotional support increased the odds of psychological disturbances for police officers in forced repatriation. Findings are discussed with special regard to the complexity of forced repatriation, particularly when children are the focus.
Full-text available
The purpose of this study is to analyse observed situations of successful cooperation, even if it unfolds during shorter interaction sequences. The aim is to analyse how and when the actors within juvenile care in Sweden present successful cooperation, and which interactive patterns are involved in the construction of this phenomenon. Forming the empirical basis for this study are 119 field observations of organised meetings and informal meetings before and after organised meetings, during visits to youth care institutions in Sweden, social services offices, and the Swedish National Board of Institutional Care. In this study, markers are used to define successful cooperation in the empirical material, so that actors who belong to at least three different categories will be identified (coherent triad). The professional actors can also shape a coherent triad with young people or parents in cases where past conflicts arise. When some professionals create a distance from other professional partners, conflicts can be erased so as to generate new conditions for coherence of the triad. Construction and reconstruction of collaboration success is an ongoing, interactive process. Presentation of the proper interaction moral is created and re-created during interactions and appears in the myriad of everyday interactions.
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Police officers and social workers are key actors in the forced repatriation of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children. Police officers are tasked with arranging the children’s departure, whereas social workers are responsible for the children’s well-being during their stay in Sweden. To gain a better understanding of how to handle stressors and cope effectively with forced repatriation work, the current study aimed to describe and compare police officers’ and social workers’ coping strategies for forced repatriation work, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and social support. Nationally distributed surveys to social workers (n = 380) and police officers (n = 714) with and without experience of forced repatriation were used, analyzed by univariate and multivariable regression models. The police officers used more planful problem-solving and self-controlling strategies, whereas the social workers used more escape-avoidance, distancing and positive reappraisal coping. Additionally, social workers with experience in forced repatriation used more planful problem-solving than those without experience. Police officers involved in forced repatriation manage their work stress via adaptive coping strategies and control over the situation, whereas social workers use more maladaptive coping strategies. Concrete tools are needed at the individual level to strengthen key actors’ ability to support the well-being of unaccompanied asylum-seeking refugee children.
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This article examines the perceptions and practices of Children’s Case Workers (CCW), employed at the Swedish Migration Board to safeguard children’s interests within the Swedish asylum reception system. The extensive discretionary powers that CCWs enjoy in interpreting and implementing policies are of particular significance. This qualitative study highlights the challenges experienced by CCWs at a regional branch, in their position at the intersection between conflicting policy objectives, and given the contradictions inherent in their professional role as street-level bureaucrats. It outlines the strategies employed by CCWs to manage contradiction and ambiguity, such as adapting to organizational pressures and restrictive norms, and exercising restraint in using their discretionary powers, but also finding ways of resisting when the discord between established practice and personal ethics becomes too great. These strategies shape the ways in which policy gets implemented in everyday practice. While a boost to the new image of the Migration Board as an institution promoting human rights, the CCWs find it difficult to implement children’s rights in the proactive ways envisioned. As a result, in CCWs’ experience, rather than being placed at the centre, children tend to be deported to the margins of daily organizational practice.
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Previous research illustrates the lack of services and provision for the needs of migrant children; assessments of needs in the early stage of their arrival into the UK have previously been advocated. This paper reports on a qualitative study with officials in agencies working with children at a UK port of entry. Along with a sense of isolation and fragmentation between those agencies involved in this work, there were clear tensions between the safeguarding agendas and practices of the agencies involved. Analysis of interviews with social workers and police officers suggests that there was a lack of confidence and trust between agencies and in multi-agency approaches to safeguarding children entering the UK. Assessment approaches tend to be risk orientated at the expense of being culturally attuned and children's rights focused. These findings are discussed together with recommendations for further research. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ‘Clear tensions between the safeguarding agendas and practices of the agencies involved’
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Thematic analysis is a poorly demarcated, rarely acknowledged, yet widely used qualitative analytic method within psychology. In this paper, we argue that it offers an accessible and theoretically flexible approach to analysing qualitative data. We outline what thematic analysis is, locating it in relation to other qualitative analytic methods that search for themes or patterns, and in relation to different epistemological and ontological positions. We then provide clear guidelines to those wanting to start thematic analysis, or conduct it in a more deliberate and rigorous way, and consider potential pitfalls in conducting thematic analysis. Finally, we outline the disadvantages and advantages of thematic analysis. We conclude by advocating thematic analysis as a useful and flexible method for qualitative research in and beyond psychology.
This study investigated factors related to successful and unsuccessful collaborations, studied the specific problems that are part of the collaboration process, and identified solutions to minimize their occurrence. Thirty-three stakeholders from nine state departments and three private social services agencies in Ohio were categorized into two groups: program chiefs and program specialists. Participants were interviewed as to their opinions on successes, problems, and solutions related to interagency collaboration. Interviews were transcribed and data were analyzed using content analysis. Significant differences were found in two areas: factors that jeopardized interagency collaboration and areas each group would change in future collaborative efforts. Based on the outcomes of this study, seven factors related to successful interagency collaboration were delineated.
This article examines the ability of frontline human service agencies to collaborate across organizational boundaries. Data come from an in-depth study of the public welfare and private welfare-to-work contractors in two Michigan counties and document significant problems that arise from the inability of these two sectors to collaborate in the provision of welfare programs. I use ethnographic methods that capture the perspectives of frontline workers themselves in order to understand how collaboration is actually thwarted. In spite of dramatically different organizational settings, frontline staff in both sectors draw on the same sources of evidence, that is, past relations, daily experiences, and client stories, when assessing the organizations with which they are mandated to collaborate. These collective beliefs create parameters within which staff interpret events and react to them. Their interpretations and reactions further reinforce the beliefs shared throughout the organization about the legitimacy, efficiency, and effectiveness of the partner organization. In this way, the social process at the front lines of the welfare system creates systemic barriers to collaboration. I conclude by considering how this analysis can help the local manager improve policy implementation and human service collaboration.
Many contemporary support services for children and young people (CYP) in out-of-home-care have adopted a collaborative approach to service provision in order to best meet the complex needs of clients. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the perceptions of Evolve Behaviour Support Services (EBSS) frontline and managerial staff delivering services to CYP in out-of-home-care with disability and complex behaviours regarding interagency/stakeholder collaboration. Views about the number and nature of collaborative partnerships, factors which facilitate or hinder effective relationships and advantages (including unintended benefits) of collaboration were sought. Qualitative interviews with 21 participants highlighted issues around: (1) general and agency/stakeholder specific issues and barriers, and (2) benefits of collaboration. The collaborative approach to service provision was seen as greatly enhancing the effectiveness of EBSS' response and ability to meet the range of CYP's complex needs, as well as having benefits for carers and service providers. Nevertheless, difficulties with collaboration were also encountered. Frequently identified challenges included reduced stakeholder engagement, differences in professional backgrounds and practice frameworks, unequal initiation of contact and follow-up, organisational disparities, communication and information sharing problems, frequent stakeholder turnover and geographical barriers in rural/remote areas.
Multidisciplinary strategic collaborations are becoming increasingly commonplace. This is particularly evident in relation to safeguarding children. However, whilst there is a growing body of literature on both the effective leadership of collaborations and child protection there is little that combines the two. This means that senior managers, who are members of safeguarding partnerships, have a limited evidence-base to inform their collective learning and development. This paper seeks to add to the body of knowledge by first exploring both the literature on strategic collaboration and considering the implications for safeguarding partnerships. Second, by making an argument, that in order for members to engage in the effective joint leadership of collaborations they require opportunities for reflection and ongoing collective development. Third, providing an example of a way in which this can be achieved through the use of a self-assessment and improvement tool. Finally, considering the lessons learnt from the development of such a tool, focusing specifically on the implications for members of partnerships addressing complex problems such as the multifaceted issues associated with child maltreatment.
This paper provides a qualitative analysis of mental health and child protection professionals' perceptions of best practice when working on cases where there is parental mental illness and there are protection concerns for child(ren). Data were collected as part of a state-wide survey of professionals in both fields. Respondents offered many suggestions for improving interagency relationships, collaborative processes, and outcomes for children and parents. These suggestions encompassed three major content areas: improving communication; enhancing the knowledge base of professionals in both sectors; and providing adequate resources and appropriate service models. Within the three domains of communication, knowledge development and resources, strategies encompassed both formal, organisation-led initiatives as well as more informal initiatives that could be implemented by individuals or small groups. Additionally, strategies were suggested that required implementation at a range of levels of organisational activity, from the front-line workplace to state-wide policy changes. Thus, a complex picture emerges of intersectoral collaboration that comprises several key domains and needs to be implemented at all levels of organisational influence.
Whether on a patrol beat, in social service offices, or in public school classrooms, street-level workers continually confront rules in relation to their own beliefs about the people they encounter. Cops, Teachers, Counselors is the first major study of street-level bureaucracy to rely on storytelling. Steven Maynard-Moody and Michael Musheno collect the stories told by these workers in order to analyze the ways that they ascribe identities to the people they encounter and use these identities to account for their own decisions and actions. The authors show us how the world of street-level work is defined by the competing tensions of law abidance and cultural abidance in a unique study that finally allows cops, teachers, and counselors to voice their own views of their work. Steven Maynard-Moody is Director of the Policy Research Institute and Professor of Public Administration at the University of Kansas. Michael Musheno is Professor of Justice and Policy Studies at Lycoming College and Professor Emeritus of Justice Studies, Arizona State University.