Lisa Ottosson, Marita Eastmond, Isabell Schierenbeck; Safeguarding a Child Perspective in Asylum Reception: Dilemmas of Children’s Case Workers in Sweden. J Refug Stud 2013; 26 (2): 247-264. doi: 10.1093/jrs/fes024
This article examines the perceptions and practices of Children’s Case Workers (CCW), employed at the Swedish Migration Board to safeguard children’s interests within the Swedish asylum reception system. The extensive discretionary powers that CCWs enjoy in interpreting and implementing policies are of particular significance. This qualitative study highlights the challenges experienced by CCWs at a regional branch, in their position at the intersection between conflicting policy objectives, and given the contradictions inherent in their professional role as street-level bureaucrats. It outlines the strategies employed by CCWs to manage contradiction and ambiguity, such as adapting to organizational pressures and restrictive norms, and exercising restraint in using their discretionary powers, but also finding ways of resisting when the discord between established practice and personal ethics becomes too great. These strategies shape the ways in which policy gets implemented in everyday practice. While a boost to the new image of the Migration Board as an institution promoting human rights, the CCWs find it difficult to implement children’s rights in the proactive ways envisioned. As a result, in CCWs’ experience, rather than being placed at the centre, children tend to be deported to the margins of daily organizational practice.