Het spanningsveld tussen ‘front-’ en ‘backstage’ in intensieve pedagogische thuisbegeleiding | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 37, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1567-7109
  • E-ISSN: 2468-1652



Both in Flanders and in the Netherlands, there is a growing attention to family preservation programs. Research on family preservation is, however, mainly conducted within a positivist framework. Because of that, we have gathered some insights into overall trends, but we have very little detailed information about the day-to-day practice of family preservation. What happens when a social worker and a family are face-to-face? What are the underlying mechanisms that influence the impact of a family preservation program? In this study, we use a multiple case-study with a triangulation of different ethnographical methods to build knowledge about the complex and dynamic tension in which family preservation programs take shape. We illustrate the discrepancy between how an intervention is displayed ‘front stage’ (in case-files, reports, registrations) and what happens ‘back stage’ (during the face-to-face contacts). We describe how, at the beginning and at the end of a treatment process, the focus on the ‘front stage’ influences the attunement between a social worker and a family. In between, however, the social worker undertakes small but significant actions at the ‘back stage’ of the intervention process, which are regarded as extremely helpful by the families. By shedding light on what happens beyond case-files, reports and registrations, it becomes possible to open the black box of social interventions and enrich the conceptual framework of ‘what works’ in family preservation. In addition, by working collaboratively between researchers, social workers and families, a collaborative research community is formed and local improvement processes are enhanced.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): multi-level; case-study; evidence based practice; family preservation; what works
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