Publication type: Conference other
Type of review: Peer review (abstract)
Title: The voice of the child in assessments of risk : do children from families on social assistance get less attention?
Authors: Lätsch, David Cyrill
Quehenberger, Julia
et. al: No
Conference details: 16th International Conference of the European Scientific Association on Residential & Family Care for Children and Adolescents (EuSARF), Zurich (online), 1-3 September 2021
Issue Date: 3-Sep-2021
Language: English
Subjects: Kindesschutz; Sozialhilfe; Familienhilfe
Subject (DDC): 362.7: Youth services
Abstract: Context: In child protection cases, findings indicate that children may benefit from inclusion in the decision-making process in many ways. In spite of this evidence, there seems to be a persistent gap between the normative claim to participation of children and the actual implementation of participatory processes. Research has begun to explore the factors that drive case workers’ tendencies to create opportunities of participation for children. However, a theoretical model of such prerequisites is lacking. In the present paper, we propose that the tendency of a professional to have a child participate in decision-making will depend on i) the perceived participatory competence of the child, ii) the perceived affectedness of the child by the problem at hand, and iii) the perceived information potential of the child. We further assume that the perceived participatory competence of the child will not only depend on the child’s individual characteristics (such as age or developmental status), but in a kind of spill-over effect will be affected by the participatory competence that is ascribed to the family unit as a whole. One factor that has been shown to decrease the participatory opportunities for families in child and youth welfare is family poverty. To test this last facet of the model, we hypothesize that children from families who are on social assistance will be given less opportunity to participate in decision-making as compared to their peers. Method: Data were collected from six child protective agencies in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Cases were formal assessments of possible child endangerment. Case files from a one-year period were randomly selected. Characteristics on multiple levels (case, caregivers and children, social workers, decisional outcomes) were coded according to a predefined system. In a binary approach, child participation was coded as present when the views of the child on the case were explicitly mentioned and addressed in the case report submitted to the child protection authority. Case files from children under the age of four were excluded. The analysis is based on data on 124 children (53.2 % girls). Results: The inclusion of the voice of the child in the report was found in 54.8 % of cases. The likelihood of participation increased strongly with the age of the child. Case workers were much less likely to take children’s views into account when the family was on social assistance (OR=0.21, p<0.01), even when controlling for plausible confounders in a multilevel model. Conclusions: Our study did not falsify our hypothesis. Independent of our model, the evidence points to something peculiar about families receiving social assistance that distracts social workers’ attention away from the perspective of the child and/or that makes the inclusion of this perspective seem less advisable. We will consider possible explanations and discuss implications for practice.
Fulltext version: Published version
License (according to publishing contract): Licence according to publishing contract
Departement: Social Work
Organisational Unit: Institute of Childhood, Youth and Family (IKJF)
Published as part of the ZHAW project: Standardisierte Abklärung im Kindesschutz: Effekte auf Prozesse und Entscheidungen
Appears in collections:Publikationen Soziale Arbeit

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