The HESTIA project aims to discover the nature and impact of variations in child protection systems through a comparison of three quite different welfare states (England, Germany, the Netherlands). It includes a comparative analysis of child protection policy and empirical studies of child protection practice. Findings from the policy analysis will underpin the empirical phase, which will compare (i) state responses to child maltreatment notifications and (ii) parent perspectives on professional intervention in different welfare states. We will compare:

  • the ways child protection measures are negotiated, legitimized and perceived (by professionals and parents);
  • their impact on children (e.g. protection/re-abuse; removal from home);
  • the relationship between national policy, thresholds for intervention and social justice;
  • rhetoric in child protection policy and practice, locating this within the wider child welfare policy framework in each country.

The study will also compare wider assumptions about the role of the state in family life, (including those regarding the rights of parents) and the ways different welfare states seek to balance children’s rights to protection (under the UNCRC) and parents’ rights to family life (under the Human Rights Act).
Through this comparative analysis, the HESTIA project will generate new insights into child protection policy and practice and so have a significant impact on future developments in child welfare in Europe.

The project is carried out in cooperation of working group F3 - "Family Support and Child Protection" and working group J2 - "Structures of Child and Youth Welfare Services" and in cooperation with the universities of Groningen (Prof. Grietens) and York (Prof. Biehal) (

Financed/ sponsored by:


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