by Nina Biehal
On July 2nd Nina Biehal and Helen Baldwin presented the findings of the HESTIA study to a regional workshop for social work professionals, managers and researchers held in the city of York. The first strand of the study compared the development and current nature of child protection policy in three apparently similar Western European countries: England, Germany and the Netherlands. The second strand investigated the operation of child protection systems in the three countries while the third was a qualitative study of parents’ perspectives on their involvement with child protection services. Many of the workshop participants were surprised and intrigued by the differences found between the three countries.
The presentations briefly explained the policy and institutional contexts for child protection in the three countries and then focused principally on a comparison of child protection systems, drawn from an analysis of data on child protection practice with a total of 1,200 children (400 per country). Although there were some similarities in the operation of the three child protection systems there were also a number of key differences. There was much discussion among the workshop participants about the nature of these differences and how they related to the wider historical and current policy contexts of the study countries. There was also considerable interest in the comparison of findings on parent perspectives on child protection services, although these did not appear to vary greatly between countries despite the differences in national policy and systems.