International Visitor - Associate Professor Emily Keddell, University of Otago, New Zealand. Decolonising Child Protection: What reduces baby removals? Political, practitioner and parent perspectives
13th September 2023
We are very privileged to welcome our first International Speaker of 2023/24 - Associate Professor Emily Keddell (University of Otago, New Zealand) is currently visiting Lancaster University. She will speak about Decolonizing Child Protection: What reduces baby removals? Political, practitioner and parent perspectives.
This is a unique opportunity to hear Emily speak in person in the United Kingdom.
Book your place now: Book Here
This talk examines the multiple, interlocking factors that reduce the chances of infant removals into fostercare, utilising theoretical frameworks including the decision-making ecology, policy orientations and legitimacy. Drawing on the example of Aotearoa New Zealand, this talk will describe key trends in recent years which show first an increase, then a large reduction in the rate of baby removals, as well as the disparities within them. Political drivers contributing to this reduction include a combination of media pressure, Māori grassroots and organisational advocacy, legislative change and public inquiries, and devolution of some services to Māori organisations. Political pressure forced the statutory agency to engage in legitimacy work, which produced both substantive and more superficial changes. At the policy and practice level, the perspectives of mothers and their key practitioners provide a different lens on what helps prevent removal. This includes the need for holistic service provision with specific key elements, and the mediation of risk perceptions by the key practitioner. Where disability is an issue, direct advocacy using an adapted version of the social model of disability was needed. Women valued non-judgementalism, and encouraged other women to be persistent and to draw on their love for their children as motivation to keep going. Lack of service coordination, superficial assessment processes, and changing or unrealistic expectations from the child protection service were key ‘system factors’ that could impede prevention efforts.
Emily Keddell is an Associate Professor in Social and Community Work at the University of Otago – Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo. Her research focusses on the intersecting social inequities affecting the child protection system in Aotearoa New Zealand. Beneath this broad umbrella, she examines disparities for specific citizen groups, decision-making variability, knowledge interpretation in practice, the use of algorithmic decision tools, and the politics of state intervention in family life. Current projects include how to effectively prevent the removal of babies to fostercare; how decisions to report to child protection services are made by community social workers, police and schools; and a cross-national comparative project examining student social workers’ perceptions of risk.
She is particularly interested in the ethical aspects of algorithmic decision tools and the implications for data provenance, the practitioners using them, and the citizens they affect. She was an invited witness to the Waitangi Tribunal hearing (WAI2915) (investigating inequities for Māori in the Aotearoa New Zealand child protection system), and the Royal Inquiry into Abuse in State Care. She is a founding member of the Reimagining Social Work blog, an associate editor of Qualitative Social Work, and a member of the editorial collective of the journal Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work. Her work highlights issues of rights, equity and justice within child protection systems and how to address them.