This paper presents a qualitative analysis of front‐line practices regarding emergency removals in Finnish and Irish child protection. It examines how the responses to children's immediate danger are framed by legislation and how front‐line practitioners assess the child's situation and make emergency placement decisions. The data consist of interviews with 16 Irish and 33 Finnish social workers. These child welfare protection systems respond differently to a task that appears to be similar. The Irish team‐based practice rests on the social workers' shared assessment of the child's needs, and the formal decision is made by the courts (or police officers at night‐time); and the Finnish practice involves only one single social worker who makes both the assessment and the removal decision. The Irish system is tightly time regulated, whereas the Finnish system provides a more flexible time frame. Both approaches put a lot of stress on social workers' practice, which also includes creative workarounds (e.g., “planned emergency removals” in Finland). Future research will need to explore these features from the point of view of a child's right to protection.