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Integrity, autonomy and participation in child protection: How do children and parents experience the proceedings of Child and Adult Protection Authorities?

English title Integrity, autonomy and participation in child protection: How do children and parents experience the proceedings of Child and Adult Protection Authorities?
Applicant Cottier Michelle
Number 177445
Funding scheme NRP 76 Welfare and coercion
Research institution Département de droit civil Faculté de droit Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Legal sciences
Start/End 01.09.2018 - 31.08.2022
Approved amount 707'776.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Legal sciences
Psychology
Sociology
Social work

Keywords (6)

Parental rights; Children's rights; Child protection proceedings; Autonomy; Integrity; Participation

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
How do children and parents experience the proceedings of Child and Adult Protection Authorities?Through historical and legal analysis as well as an empirical study in the French and German speaking regions of Switzerland, this project studies how children and parents understand, experience and respond to what happens to them during child protection proceedings.
Lay summary

Project description
In line with the goals of the NRP 76, this project aims to produce knowledge about key features of fair child protection proceedings. Historical analysis provides a record of existing historiographic knowledge about children’s and parents’ experiences of the actions and decisions of child protection authorities (pre-1981 and 1981-2012). Legal analysis studies the long-term development of parents’ and children’s rights in child protection proceedings (1907 - to date) and innovative developments in other countries. The empirical study in French- and German-speaking regions of Switzerland asks how parents and children currently perceive the actions and interventions of Swiss Child and Adult Protection Authorities (CAPAs). A final interdisciplinary phase will develop a draft legislation for a new child protection procedure and accompanying guidelines.
Context
Both historical and current international research indicate that child protection proceedings, being complex and controversial, create manifold opportunities for actions and interactions that children and parents may experience as violating their integrity and threatening their autonomy. To avoid this risk, it is necessary to know more about parents’ and children’s experiences with child protection authorities.
Aims
The project aims to study how children and parents understand, experience and respond to what happens to them during child protection proceedings, and in encounters with Swiss CAPAs, and what the characteristics of proceedings are that will encourage them, in particular the children, to make use of their right to be heard, and participate in ways that are both meaningful to them and have their best interest at heart.
Importance
The results will be of significance not only for scientific debate, but will also raise the awareness of child protection professionals regarding the conditions and settings that encourage and support genuine participation by children and parents. The project will furthermore provide information on innovative, deliberative models designed to facilitate participation in child protection proceedings, and thus help realise the full potential of the interdisciplinary composition of Child and Adult Protection Authorities in Switzerland.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 20.06.2018

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Abstract

This project asks how children and parents understand, experience and respond to what happens to them during child protection proceedings, and in encounters with Swiss Child and Adult Protection Authorities (CAPAs), and what the characteristics of proceedings are that will encourage them to make use of their right to be heard, and participate in ways that are meaningful to them. The project therefore aims to explore the relationships between the written law, the implementation of the law and the experiences of children and parents involved in child protection proceedings. The project combines historical analysis, legal analysis and a multi-method empirical study. The historical analysis will provide a record of existing historiographic knowledge about children’s and parents’ experiences of the actions and decisions of child protection authorities (pre-1981 and 1981-2012), and follows recommendations on systematic reviews. The results of existing and ongoing historical, interview-based studies on how the guardianship authorities’ actions have been experienced by those involved in child protection proceedings have not so far been systematically brought together. By doing this, the historical analysis will produce new insights and provide a valuable knowledge base for the legal analysis and the empirical study. The legal analysis will consist of three parts. The first will aim to give a clear picture of the legal framework in place when parents and children encountered the former guardianship authorities; and will discuss shifts in legal discourse. The focus will be on the Swiss Civil Code of 1907, which entered into force in 1912, with revisions in 1978, 1981, 2000 and 2013, designed to improve the legal position and participatory rights of children. The second part will analyse the legal framework post-2013 and will clarify the legal context of the encounters between CAPAs and children and parents examined in the empirical study. The third, comparative law part, will aim to identify innovative and deliberative models developed abroad of the involvement of children and parents in child protection proceedings. The empirical study is designed to be a comparative method triangulation study combining qualitative and quantitative methods; it includes three elements. Firstly, eight multi-perspective case studies will be conducted (two in each of the four participating CAPAs; with equal numbers in French- and German-speaking regions). As such it will include: (1) Participant observation of several stages of a child protection procedure where the CAPA is involved. (2) Interviews with children and parents, and group interviews with members of the authority involved. (3) Case file analysis. Secondly, two online surveys will be conducted, one addressing children and parents, the other, members of CAPAs. Questionnaires will be informed by insights obtained from the multi-perspective case studies used to identify the communications, settings and situations in child protection proceedings that are conducive, or unconducive, to experiences of integrity, autonomy and children’s and parents’ participation. Thirdly, in each language region three focus group interviews will be conducted: two with children (aged 8 -17); two with parents, and two with members of CAPAs. Combining historical, legal and social science perspectives, and taking into account the results of the historical analysis, the legal analysis and the empirical part of the project, a final interdisciplinary phase will develop: (a) draft legislation for a new child protection procedure; (b) guidelines for CAPA professionals and child welfare agencies. In line with the goals of NRP 76 we aim to produce knowledge that enables professionals to recognise the factors that ensure genuine participation by children and parents in the processes of assessment, hearing (“Anhörung”/”audition”) and the pronouncement of decisions taken by the CAPA. The project aims to provide information on innovative, deliberative models designed to facilitate participation in child protection proceedings, and thus help realise the full potential of the interdisciplinary composition of Child and Adult Protection Authorities in Switzerland.
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