Care planning using SMART criteria in statutory youth social work in Denmark: reflections, challenges and solutions.

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Care plans are an inherent part of statutory work with young people today. They have multiple functions such as securing young people’s rights to support, managing care, and motivating young clients and their families. Taking the case of care planning in Denmark, this paper explores how the Danish State takes a linear and managerial view of statutory care planning by suggesting that the SMART criteria regarding goals being Specific, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic, and Time-related, should be employed by statutory caseworkers. The linearity involves an encompassing assessment of the young person’s problems being carried out first, followed by a planning stage that builds on the assessment, prior to making a decision about specific interventions. Flyvbjerg’s phronetic perspective on planning is used to challenge a linear perspective on generating care plans. Ten challenges to a linear view of planning are identified rooted in an understanding of the complexity of statutory care planning in youth social work. The challenges draw attention to the unpredictability of statutory social work, power issues and the significance of caseworker discretion. Instead, a three stranded model is developed that involves ideal planning, based on a linearity from problem to solution, youth planning that explores and develops the young person and their family’s view of their scope of possibilities, and resource planning that focuses on legal, financial and pragmatic possibilities. The model does not resolve care planning issues as they are viewed as inherent in the field, but the model may be a resource when generating care plans.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Social Work Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)64-74
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • social work and social conditions
  • social work
  • planning
  • goals
  • case management
  • statutory social work


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