Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 8

Child Protection Related Abstracts

8 Role of Social Workers in Juvenile Justice Board as a Child Protection Mechanism for Children in Conflict with Law

Authors: Ida D. Souza, Lena Ashok


Every child has a fundamental right to be protected and it is only a safe, supported child who can effectively cope with difficult circumstances and lead a happy childhood. The vulnerability of children has increased due to emerging lifestyles, raising cost of living, higher expectations from adults, parental and care-giver stress /burn-out and a general raise in demand for services for children. A major area of concern is the rise of juvenile crimes in the overall crimes committed in the country. The UNCRC 1989 and JJ Act 2000 enables the structures to handle the juvenile children in care and concern in its real terms. One of the mechanisms to protect the children is the JJB a justice system. The aim is to hold a child culpable (guilty) for offence they committed, not through punishment, but counseling the child to understand their actions and persuade them away from such deviated activities in the future. The JJB consists of two social workers and a judicial magistrate and one of whom should be a woman. This study aims at understanding the role of social workers in best practices in deciding the best course of action for the rehabilitation of the child. Two case studies were carried out through in-depth interviews with the social worker member of the JJB of two Udupi and Mangalore districts. The best practices reported in which children are being allowed to express themselves in a child friendly environment and in the best interest of the child. The study highlighted team work to be very effective in understanding the child in their reformation.

Keywords: Juvenile Justice, Child Protection, best practices, reformation teamwork

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7 Just Child Protection Practice for Immigrant and Racialized Families in Multicultural Western Settings: Considerations for Context and Culture

Authors: Sarah Maiter


Heightened globalization, migration, displacement of citizens, and refugee needs is putting increasing demand for approaches to social services for diverse populations that responds to families to ensure the safety and protection of vulnerable members while providing supports and services. Along with this social works re-focus on socially just approaches to practice increasingly asks social workers to consider the challenging circumstances of families when providing services rather than a focus on individual shortcomings alone. Child protection workers then struggle to ensure safety of children while assessing the needs of families. This assessment can prove to be difficult when providing services to immigrant, refugee, and racially diverse families as understanding of and familiarity with these families is often limited. Furthermore, child protection intervention in western countries is state mandated having legal authority when intervening in the lives of families where child protection concerns have been identified. Within this context, racialized immigrant and refugee families are at risk of misunderstandings that can result in interventions that are overly intrusive, unhelpful, and harsh. Research shows disproportionality and overrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities, and immigrant families in the child protection system. Reasons noted include: a) possibilities of racial bias in reporting and substantiating abuse, b) struggles on the part of workers when working with families from diverse ethno-racial backgrounds and who are immigrants and may have limited proficiency in the national language of the country, c) interventions during crisis and differential ongoing services for these families, d) diverse contexts of these families that poses additional challenges for families and children, and e) possible differential definitions of child maltreatment. While cultural and ethnic diversity in child rearing approaches have been cited as contributors to child protection concerns, this approach should be viewed cautiously as it can result in stereotyping and generalizing that then results in inappropriate assessment and intervention. However, poverty and the lack of social supports, both well-known contributors to child protection concerns, also impact these families disproportionately. Child protection systems, therefore, need to continue to examine policy and practice approaches with these families that ensures safety of children while balancing the needs of families. This presentation provides data from several research studies that examined definitions of child maltreatment among a sample of racialized immigrant families, experiences of a sample of immigrant families with the child protection system, concerns of a sample of child protection workers in the provision of services to these families, and struggles of families in the transitions to their new country. These studies, along with others provide insights into areas of consideration for practice that can contribute to safety for children while ensuring just and equitable responses that have greater potential for keeping families together rather than premature apprehension and removal of children to state care.

Keywords: Child Protection, child welfare services, immigrant families, racial and ethnic diversity

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6 The Role and Challenges of Social Workers in Child Protection: The Case of Indonesia

Authors: B. Rusyidi


Since 2009, the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs has been implementing Program Kesejahteraan Sosial Anak (PKSA) (Child Welfare Program) a conditional cash transfer program that targets neglected children, children with disabilities, street children, children in conflict with the law, and children in need of special protection, all from poor households. PKSA integrates three elements: Transfer of cash, care and social services through social workers, and institutional childcare assistance. This qualitative study analyzed the roles and the challenges of social workers in implementing PKSA and lays out recommendations to inform policy changes. Data were collected in late 2014 from national and local government and non-government child welfare agencies, social workers, and childcare institution representatives through interviews and Focused Group Discussions (FGDs). Field work took place in six districts in the provinces of Jakarta, Central Java and South Sulawesi. The study found that the social workers’ role was significant in facilitating cash transfer, providing education and guidance, and linking children and families to basic social services. This improved utilization of basic social services enhanced children and families’ behaviors and contributed to the well being of the children. However, only a small number of childcare institutions have social workers, leaving many children and families without care and social service linkages, depriving them of rehabilitative components to help them regain their social functions. Some social workers reported their struggles with heavy workloads, lack of professional competencies and training, limited job security, and inadequate professional acknowledgment from other professions. Parts of those challenges were due to the centralized nature of the program and the lack of shared vision and commitment about the child protection system among related government agencies both at the national and local levels. The study highlights the necessity to implement an integrated child protection system, decentralize the PKSA program, and increase the number, competence, case management, and management and monitoring of social workers. The most recent progress of the program and its impacts on social workers are also discussed.

Keywords: Working conditions, Child Protection, social worker, conditional cash transfer, program decentralization

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5 Child Protection Decision Making in England and Finland: A Comparative Analysis

Authors: Rachel Falconer


Background: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the duties placed on signatory nations to take measures to protect children from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and maltreatment. The systems for ensuring this protection vary globally, shaped by national welfare policies. In England and Finland, past research has highlighted differences in how child protection issues are framed and how state agencies respond. However, less is known about how such differences impact processes of social work judgment and decision making in practice. Method: Data was collected as part of a wider PhD project in three stages. First, social workers in sites across England and Finland were asked to complete a short questionnaire. Participants were then asked to comment on two constructed case vignettes, and were interviewed about their experiences of child protection decision making at the point of referral. Interviews were analyzed using NVivo to draw out key themes. Findings: There were similarities in how the English and Finnish social workers responded to the case vignettes; for example, participants in both countries expressed concerns about similar risk factors and all felt further assessment was needed. Differences were observed, in particular, in regard to the sources of support and guidance participants referred to, with the English social workers appearing to rely more upon managerial input for their decisions than the Finnish social workers. These findings suggest evidence for two distinct decision making approaches: ‘supervised’ and ‘supported’ judgement. Implications for practice: The findings have relevance to the conference theme of research and evaluation of social work practice, and support the findings of previous studies that have emphasized the significance of organizational factors in child protection decision making. The comparative methodology has also helped to demonstrate how organizational factors can influence practice in different child protection system ‘orientations’. The presentation will discuss the potential practice implications of ‘supervised’, manager-led approaches to decision making as contrasted with ‘supported’, team-led approaches, inviting discussion about the relevance of these findings for social work in other countries.

Keywords: Decision Making, Social Work, Child Protection, vignettes, comparative research

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4 Reconceptualising the Voice of Children in Child Protection

Authors: Lynn Kelly, Sharon Jackson


This paper proposes a conceptual review of the interdisciplinary literature which has theorised the concept of ‘children’s voices’. The primary aim is to identify and consider the theoretical relevance of conceptual thought on ‘children’s voices’ for research and practice in child protection contexts. Attending to the ‘voice of the child’ has become a core principle of social work practice in contemporary child protection contexts. Discourses of voice permeate the legislative, policy and practice frameworks of child protection practices within the UK and internationally. Voice is positioned within a ‘child-centred’ moral imperative to ‘hear the voices’ of children and take their preferences and perspectives into account. This practice is now considered to be central to working in a child-centered way. The genesis of this call to voice is revealed through sociological analysis of twentieth-century child welfare reform as rooted inter alia in intersecting political, social and cultural discourses which have situated children and childhood as cites of state intervention as enshrined in the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by the UK government in 1991 and more specifically Article 12 of the convention. From a policy and practice perspective, the professional ‘capturing’ of children’s voices has come to saturate child protection practice. This has incited a stream of directives, resources, advisory publications and ‘how-to’ guides which attempt to articulate practice methods to ‘listen’, ‘hear’ and above all – ‘capture’ the ‘voice of the child’. The idiom ‘capturing the voice of the child’ is frequently invoked within the literature to express the requirements of the child-centered practice task to be accomplished. Despite the centrality of voice, and an obsession with ‘capturing’ voices, evidence from research, inspection processes, serious case reviews, child abuse and death inquires has consistently highlighted professional neglect of ‘the voice of the child’. Notable research studies have highlighted the relative absence of the child’s voice in social work assessment practices, a troubling lack of meaningful engagement with children and the need to more thoroughly examine communicative practices in child protection contexts. As a consequence, the project of capturing ‘the voice of the child’ has intensified, and there has been an increasing focus on developing methods and professional skills to attend to voice. This has been guided by a recognition that professionals often lack the skills and training to engage with children in age-appropriate ways. We argue however that the problem with ‘capturing’ and [re]representing ‘voice’ in child protection contexts is, more fundamentally, a failure to adequately theorise the concept of ‘voice’ in the ‘voice of the child’. For the most part, ‘The voice of the child’ incorporates psychological conceptions of child development. While these concepts are useful in the context of direct work with children, they fail to consider other strands of sociological thought, which position ‘the voice of the child’ within an agentic paradigm to emphasise the active agency of the child.

Keywords: Child Protection, child-centered, views of the child, voice of the child

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3 A Case Study Approach on Co-Constructing the Idea of 'Safety' with Children

Authors: Beng Zhen Yeow


In most work that involves children, the voice of the children is often not heard. This is ironic since a lot of discussions might involve their welfare and safety. It might seem natural that the professionals should hear from them about what they wish for instead of deciding what is best for them. However, this, unfortunately, might be more the exception than the norm in most case and hence in many instances, children are merely 'subjects' in conversations about safety instead of active participants in the construction or creation of safety in the family. There might be many reasons why it does not happen in our work. Firstly, professionals have learnt how to 'socialise' into their professional roles and hence in the process become 'un-childlike'. Secondly, there is also a lack of professional training with regards to how to talk with children. Finally, there might be also a lack of concrete tools and techniques that are developed to facilitate the process. In this paper, the case study method is used to show how the idea of safety could be concretised and discussed with children and their family members, and hence making them active participants and co-creators of their own safety. Specific skills and techniques are highlighted through the case study. In this case, there was improvement in outcomes like no repeated offence or abuse. In addition, children were also able to advocate for their own safety after six months of intervention and how the family members were able to explicitly say what they can do to improve safety. The professionals in the safety network reported significant improvements. On top of that, the abused child who was removed due to child protection concerns, had verbalized observations of change in mother’s parenting abilities, and has requested for home leave to begin due to ownership of safety planning and having confidence to co-create safety for her siblings and herself together with the professionals in the safety network. Children becoming active participants in the co-creation of safety not only serve the purpose in allowing them to own a 'voice' but at the same time, give them greater confidence to protect themselves at home and in other contexts outside of home.

Keywords: Child Protection, partnering for safety, collaborative social work, family and systemic psychotherapy

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2 Invisible and Visible Helpers in Negotiating Child Parenting by Single Mothers: A Comparative Analysis of South Africa and Germany

Authors: Tanusha Raniga, Michael Boecker, Maud Mthembu


In South Africa and Germany, countless number of children are raised by single mothers with little or no support from the biological fathers. As evidenced in literature, having an involved father living at home can have a positive influence in the life of a child and the mother can be supported in her role. Often single parenting is seen as a causative factor in numerous psychological and social challenges which are faced by children from single-parent households, which is an indication of a pathological lens of viewing single parenting. The empirical data from our study reveals that single mothers in formal employment experience social, economic and emotional hardships of parenting. However, a sense of determination to raise healthy and well-balanced children using economic and social capital accessible to them was one of the key findings. The participants reported visible and invisible sources of support which creates an enabling environment for them to negotiate the challenges of parenting without support from non-residence fathers. Using a qualitative paradigm, a total of twenty professional single mothers were interviewed in Germany and South Africa. Four key themes emerged from the data analysis namely; internal locus of control, positive new experiences, access to economic capital and dependable social support. This study suggests that single mothers who are economically self-reliant and have access to bonding social capital are able to cope with the demands of single parenting. Understanding this multi-dimensional experience of parenting by single parents in formal employment is important to advocate for supportive working conditions for mothers.

Keywords: Social Capital, Child Protection, child parenting, single parenting

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1 Protective Custody in Child Protection: Reflection of Residential Care Workers in the Philippines

Authors: Hazel S. Cometa-Lamberte


This paper presents the residential care workers reflections in working with children who were under protective custody and placed in a residential care facility for children. Key informant interviews and focus group discussion were employed in this study to analyze the views of residential care workers on the programs and services and case management system in residential care for children. Results suggest that working in a residential care facility for children needs the interplay of both the worker’s personal and professional values, knowledge and skills in working with children. Analyzing the residential care workers experiences in handling children in residential care facilities is vital for the improvement of the policies, programs and services, the repertoire of techniques and facilitate the creation of a new social work practice framework/model in child protection specifically in residential care facilities.

Keywords: Social Workers, Child Protection, residential care, residential care workers

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