Listening to the Voices of Children in Decision-Making: A Challenge for the Child Protection System in Spain.
Balsells, M. Ángeles. Fuentes-Peláez, Nuria. Pastor, Crescencia.
Published: August 2017
Children and Youth Services Review
Vol. 79 , p. 418-425
3251 Riverport Lane
Maryland Heights, MO 63043
The right of children to participate in decisions that impact their lives has been widely recognized, but it is scarcely present in the decision-making processes within the child protection system. Although research provides evidence of the benefits of such participation, we still know little about its presence in family reunification processes. This paper examines the voices of children and adolescents at the time of removal and reunification in the child protection process. The perspectives of 135 persons were taken through in-depth interviews and group discussions, namely, 30 children and adolescents, 42 biological parents, and 63 professionals in the child protection system. The results suggest that 1) the information that is provided to children and adolescents is inaccurate and incomplete at all stages of the decision-making process, 2) the degree of understanding the reasons that underlie the decision-making is minimal, 3) the main reason for removal defines how the child is involve in participation, and 4) the participation of children and adolescents in the reunification process contributes to its success and stability. The practical implications concern both the need to train professionals and the establishment of mechanisms that ensure children's participation on the continuum of the development of the case plan. (Author abstract)
Spain; decision making; child engagement; child protective services; child welfare services; Removing child from home; family reunification; professional training