Why do they stay? A study of resilient child protection workers in three European countries

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Frost, E. ; Höjer, S. ; Campnaini, A. ; Sicora, A. ; Kullberg, K. (2017)

Whilst 50% of child protection workers across much of Europe and the affluent ‘West’ leave after 2 years, many stay and develop substantial professional careers. This paper discusses research in Italy, Sweden and England examining what factors explain ‘remaining’ for more than 3 years in this stressful job. Underpinned by a hermeneutic epistemology, qualitative interviews were undertaken and subject to an interpretative thematic analysis. The findings proved to be complex and multi-layered and this paper presents an overview of these. The theoretical framework for the project mainly drew on organizations and resilience, and the initial sections of the paper consider how formulations of resilience as contextual and relational can elucidate professional sustainability. Organisational issues are considered, including the impact of work management, of supervision and of allocation in different national contexts. The paper also focuses on the role of friendships and informal support at work. Threaded through these established themes are more, perhaps surprising, concepts: e.g. creativity, power, reflexive spaces and interpersonal relations as explanatory of remaining in child protection work.
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