Repositioning prevention in child protection using performance indicators
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Performance indicators have both technical and value dimensions, capable of providing data for monitoring and reporting in addition to framing policy problems and their solutions. This paper considers the performance indicators proposed in a recent child protection inquiry in Australia that recommended ‘decreasing the numbers of children in the child protection system’ as a primary policy objective. The paper examines the context in which the indicators were set, the values and theories they endorse, and how they position stakeholders. The analysis shows how the indicators communicate that child protection services should be only for the most serious cases of child maltreatment, and the reach of statutory services should be curtailed. Children who have been maltreated or who are at risk of harm from abuse or neglect should be diverted from the child protection system (positioned as bad) to the family support system (positioned as good), and at the same time from the state to the nongovernment sector. The shifting relations between government, service providers, and families signified by the indicators can be seen in a broader international context of tightening the boundaries around child protection and concurrently advancing concepts of compliance within family support.
© 2016 Taylor & Francis (Routledge). This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Policy Studies on 23 Sep 2016, available online: 10.1080/01442872.2015.1110236
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