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Consent and objection in child welfare decision-making

The research project explores the parallel existence and use of voluntary and involuntary care orders in Finland by examining how consent and objection are expressed, acquired and interpreted in child welfare decision-making. As care order in both types means a restriction of a child's and a parent's fundamental and human rights, one may ask on what terms, if any, it is legitimate to consent to such a restriction and to request such consent. These two types of care order are analysed and compared by their features as socio-legal entities, influenced by the institutions of law and social work, and practiced in interaction with children and families. The research is multidisciplinary and the research group consists of social work, institutional interaction and public law researchers.


The project aims to consider the strengths and shortcomings of the parallel use of two different types of care orders and how care orders position the relations between parents, children and the state - social workers as its representatives in particular. The outcome of this research will highlight a form and practice of decision-making that makes the major part of care order decisions in Finland. Yet it has been excluded from the agenda of research. The very existence of voluntary care order is rather unknown internationally; therefore the project will contribute to the studies of child welfare decision-making by analysing a social work led decision-making system which rests on the idea of consent and agreement, and the controversies in legitimacy of such decisions.

Funding source

Academy of Finland

Contact persons

Tarja Pösö

Professor / PI

tarja.poso [at]

+358 50 433 6258