Mandated prevention in child welfare: Considerations from a framework shaping ethical inquiry

Stanley Houston, Trevor Spratt, John Devaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Summary: This article outlines a framework for approaching ethical dilemmas arising from the development, evaluation and implementation of child welfare policies. As such, it is relevant to policy-makers, social researchers and social workers. The central tenets of the framework are developed by drawing on ideas from moral philosophy and critical social theory. These ideas are presented as axioms, theorems and corollaries, a format which has been employed in the social sciences to offer a rational justification for a set of claims. • Findings: This process of reasoning leads to four principle axioms that are seen to shape the ethical scrutiny of social policy: 1) problematizing knowledge; 2) utilizing structured forms of inquiry to enhance understanding; 3) engendering enabling communication with those affected by the ethical concern; and 4) enhancing self-awareness. • Applications: The four axioms are then applied, by way of example, to the current and contentious, 'third way' policy of mandated prevention in child welfare, where the aim is to obviate deleterious outcomes in later life. It is argued that the framework can be applied beyond this specific concern to other pressing, ethical challenges in child welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-305
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number3
Early online date09 Sept 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)


Dive into the research topics of 'Mandated prevention in child welfare: Considerations from a framework shaping ethical inquiry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this