G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)
Effectiveness of the Finnish systemic practice model for children’s social care : a realist evaluation (2022)
Suomalaisen systeemisen lastensuojelun toimintamallin vaikuttavuus : realistinen arviointi

Aaltio, E. (2022). Effectiveness of the Finnish systemic practice model for children’s social care : a realist evaluation [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Jyväskylä. JYU dissertations, 571. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-9224-8

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Aaltio, Elina

eISBN: 978-951-39-9224-8

Journal or series: JYU dissertations

eISSN: 2489-9003

Publication year: 2022

Number in series: 571

Number of pages in the book: 1 verkkoaineisto (131 sivua, 46 sivua useina numerointijaksoina, 50 numeroimatonta sivua)

Publisher: University of Jyväskylä

Place of Publication: Jyväskylä

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: English

Persistent website address: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-9224-8

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel


The aim of this dissertation was to study the effectiveness of the Systemic Practice Model (SPM) for children’s social care within a realist evaluation framework. The SPM is a Finnish adaptation of Reclaiming Social Work (RSW), a practice model for child and family statutory social work developed in the London borough of Hackney. Previous research has shown that RSW improved the quality of practice and work-related well-being in Hackney. While implementation in new sites in the UK has met various challenges, practitioners have primarily reported positive experiences of RSW. However, evidence of its effectiveness remains limited. This thesis is based on four sub-studies and three distinct study designs and data. Two of the sub-studies, which compared family-level outcomes between a SPM group (n=56 cases) and service-as-usual group (n=56 cases), using repeated measures data, were quasi-experimental. The third sub-study, which assessed implementation fidelity and the factors influencing this, applied a concurrent transformative mixed-methods design, i.e., simultaneous quantitative and qualitative data collection, and mutual interpretation of the findings. The fourth sub-study was a research-led process aimed at formulating a programme theory for the SPM based on discussions generated in workshops and expert interviews. The key finding was that during its initial implementation the SPM did not outperform service as usual in relation either to the selected outcome measures or service-user feedback, although the volume of meetings in the SPM group was higher. The implementation fidelity analysis revealed several barriers that inhibited practitioners from adopting the SPM and applying systemic practice as intended: the core components of the SPM were unclear, training was insufficient, and organisational factors (i.e., high caseloads, high staff turnover, inadequate support from leaders) hindered its implementation. Finally, to aid future implementation and research, a programme theory, including a detailed description of the SPM’s core components, was formulated together with key informants involved in the national development and dissemination of the SPM.

Keywords: child protection; social work; family work; operations models; efficacy; results; evaluation; realisation (active); children (family members); families; doctoral dissertations

Free keywords: systemic practice model; SPM; RSW; children’s social care; child protection; realist evaluation; effectiveness; outcomes; implementation; programme theory

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Last updated on 2023-24-03 at 18:34