On "fear management" in child protection work with undocumented families

Interested in child welfare practice with non-citizen immigrant families?  Finding only a nascent literature base?  Well, you may be happy to hear that new work is coming out on the topic in 2012.  My colleagues Dr. Katrin Križ, Alyson Iannicelli and Jonathan Lourie (at Emmanuel College, Boston, Massachusetts) and I have a new study coming out in Children and Youth Services Review next year – but it is available online now at this link.  To learn a bit more about our work, here is the abstract from the paper:

Drawing on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a sample of 24 child protection workers in the northeastern United States, we analyze how workers engage with non-citizen immigrant families. Confirming findings from previous scholarship on immigrants’ fears when interacting with Child Protection Services (CPS), workers reported encountering different fear factors—the organizations, events, or people that instill fear in immigrant families. These included fear of deportation, fear of CPS workers as the people who remove children, and fear of CPS as a potentially repressive government agency.We also found that workers seek to minimize or leverage these fears in the engagement process—we refer to this process as fear management. Most of the workers interviewed seek to minimize immigrant families’ fears, and we show that they employ four strategies to do so: providing knowledge, brokering services, doing dignity and status work, and learning culture.

We are working on more papers from this study – so watch for more!  Our next paper will address the causes and consequences of fear amongst non-citizen immigrant families who are involved in child protection cases – and how this fear impacts the early stages of case practice in this arena.

Please cite this article as: Križ, K., et al., Fear management: How child protection workers engage with non-citizen immigrant families, Children and Youth Services Review (2011), doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.11.001

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