Child protection practitioners are frequently presented with the challenges of making decisions that have considerable impact on the lives of children and their families. Research in this area has primarily focussed on intake, investigation and reunification decisions, and reflects the importance of considering the role of the decision maker and the decision making environment in decision making. Despite over 43,000 children living in out of home care in Australia at June 30, 2014, the decision making processes leading to finding children safe and secure long-term out of home placements are considerably under-researched.
This study aimed to develop a tool based on the theory of planned behaviour framework, measuring the theoretical determinants of practitioner behaviour; attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control, in order to examine the intention of child protection practitioners about placing children in out of home care. The resulting measure, the Child Placement Questionnaire (CPQ), was evaluated by experts and piloted with a sample of 53 child protection practitioners working in the Australian out of home care sector. Individual items were reviewed for their relevance. Participant responses reflected a positive intention to place children in kinship care, but highlighted the importance of pragmatic constraints when placing children. Future research should focus on psychometric evaluation of the measure with a larger sample.