Capable to Protect! Participatory Promotion of Ethical Capabilities and Well-being of Child Protection Social Workers (ProCApable)

Main funder

Funder's project number: 322639

Funds granted by main funder (€)

  • 258 464,00

Funding program

Project timetable

Project start date: 01/09/2019

Project end date: 31/08/2022


Child protection social workers function in a highly demanding context. Chronic haste, excessive case overload and lack of qualified personnel are part of everyday practice in the frontline, presenting an extra challenge to intrinsically demanding work. Fulfilling one’s professional aspirations has become ever more challenging in the current era of austerity, leaving many workers to experience high levels of occupational and moral stress and burnout. This project addresses this challenging situation by viewing the phenomenon in a novel way. The project has three interconnected objectives, all of which aim at furthering understanding of social workers ethical capabilities, i.e., their opportunities to practice according to their moral code and the effects this has on their well-being. The first objective (1) is to produce empirical knowledge on both the ethical capabilities, along with their antecedents, and well-being of frontline workers, and the interrelations between these. The second objective (2) is to develop, implement and evaluate innovative daily practices aiming at promoting the capabilities of social workers to practice in an ethically sustainable way under conditions of increasing austerity. To achieve this ambitious goal, the project framework draws on critical participatory action research (PAR), to be carried out in two separate municipal organizations providing statutory child protection services. The third objective (3) is the regeneration of theory by developing the capabilities approach (CA) in conjunction with the theory of moral distress in the context of social and child protection work and the construction of a context-sensitive list of central ethical capabilities. The project adopts a mixed method approach, combining PAR, implementation research and survey methodology. The data comprise four main components: 1) the rich data produced in the PAR process, 2) quantitative and qualitative evaluation data collected to study the experienced effects of the implemented PAR project 3) cross-sectional survey data collected during the project, and 4) supplementary national survey data collected over the years 2011-2012. The project will yield empirical knowledge that is highly relevant and has clear and immediate benefits for more sustainable practice while also contributing to the revitalization of theory .

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Last updated on 2022-06-07 at 12:41